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Notes from the Ghanaman File: The Media and Politicians’ role in dressing and Keeping the Earth

Security personnel are part of the taskforce

From the earth’s creation, the Bible says God charged the man (Adam) in Genesis 2:15 to be in charge of the earth (the garden of Eden) to ‘dress it and keep it!’. I am sure the good Lord is very disappointed with us as a people for failing to dress our environment and rather destroying it for our selfish interests.

From the throwing of garbage about with careless abandon to doing open defecation along our beaches and the reckless destruction of the land in search of God’s gift of mineral wealth underneath the earth, we have broken God’s heart. We haven’t dressed the earth and haven’t kept it but lost it to ungodly people who have mortgaged all of us and our future for their selfish gains.

Thank God, we have come to ourselves after some previous failed attempts to reverse the trend. With the support of the media and civil society, political leadership is fighting to reclaim what is left of the widely-destroyed environment. As the media drives the agenda, the Honorable Minister in charge of our Natural Resources, Peter Amewu has been on the road visiting Galamsey sites after his initial 21 deadline expired. He has indeed done very well trying to clear the sites of these illegal miners and destroyers of God’s earth. We hope that his promise to sustain the gains made will not be a flash in the pan.

Minister Amewu’s Proceed on Leave turned to outright dismissal?

My attention was caught by a statement by the Minister last week when he asked some officers of the  Minerals Commission to proceed on leave for negligence of duty. In fact, the searchlight seem to be on the Minerals Commission whose mandate is to give authorization for exploration and mining activities in Ghana. They have a department which takes care of monitoring the activities of the entities licensed for mining activities. That is where the Minister faults them for failing to carry out that mandate properly and allowed some illegal and unlicensed folks to sneak in to destroy the environment.

Following the Ministers ‘proceed on leave’ order to the Minerals Commission staff, he granted an interview on TV3 in which he now clearly stated that the affected staff were in fact, fired! He made it clear that his Ministry could not work with such officers. That is where I have a problem. My beef is that ,his ‘proceed on leave’ statement was made across several media and was understood to mean that they were either on suspension or were interdicted for further investigations. Not knowing, the Honorable Minister had other ideas. And he shared that on only one platform and therefore left several people debating this. That is how politicians often deal with the media and when they come under fire, they retreat and blame the poor journalists as scapegoats by pleading that they have been misquoted or quoted out of context. I pray this will not be the case and I also hope the Minister has the power to fire people under him through the media like those revolutionary days.

Our President promises to make Accra Africa’s cleanest city

Around the same time when Honorable Amewu changed the ‘proceed on leave’ to outright dismissals, our President, His Excellency Nana Akufo Addo raised the hopes of Ghanaians by declaring his resolve to make Accra the cleanest city in four years! We must all sing hallelujah to that. I however, believe that it is not one of the political talks but His Excellency thought through the environmental challenges before making that pronouncement.

President’s promise, a political Talk?

Let me explain why I am with a lot of doubts for the president to surprise me by 2020.The problem is not just about collection of waste and not having plants to convert same into profitable materials. It is a battle of the mind in which several of our countrymen and women do not appreciate the need to play their roles in keeping the environment clean and therefore throw their garbage about; in the streets, in drains and water sources. Check out how passengers drop their waste in moving tro-tros, taxis and private vehicles and you will understand my fears.

Please don’t get me wrong that what the President has said is not doable! We have the example of Rwanda to show that it is very possible. But mind you, President Kegame has been described even by right groups as a dictator. What it means is that, he has bitten the bullet by breaking some of the ‘democratic’ barriers. Ghanaians seem to be Catholic than the Pope and think that any acts by Government which does not allow them unfettered freedom is ‘evil’ punishable by kicking out the Government at the next elections. And that is what the Politicians here fear.

Will our culture let our president succeed?

Oh, and our culture of running to take refuge in ‘powerful men and women’ to act on our behalf. I was shocked to know that the belief that we don’t have ‘tankas’(a corruption of Town Council) officials who used to put the fear of God in our parents in the communities for not keeping their houses and communities spick and span is false. They are in Accra and other MMDAs. Yes, they are not many and my interview with some of them showed that they are no more effective because each time they get offenders who breach the sanitation rules and try to process them to the sanitation courts, one big man or woman connected to ‘an Oga at the top’ intervenes. The net effect is that, they receive their monthly salaries for not carrying out their jobs as they should and some of them also take advantage to line their pockets with bribes or ‘tips’ from those they arrest.

Mr President, I trust that the media will not let you fight this fight alone and will tag along but as you said in your inaugural address, the change most Ghanaians craved for which swept you to victory will be a window dressing without a true change in our attitudes. The behavioral change to dispose our waste properly and not insult those who question the littering of our streets by the offenders, plus influential people not interfering in the work of law enforcers are all the basis of my fear of failure for this noble promise.

Please disappoint me and the other doubting Thomases and don’t disappoint the larger community and the global world who have ranked Ghana as the eighth dirtiest nation. We must dress this land and keep it for our generations yet unborn.

By Kojo Ackaah-Kwarteng,

Head of Station,Onua 95.1

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