Former President John Mahama has dared President Nana Akufo-Addo to drink from the Birim River if he has indeed tackled illegal mining in the country.
Mr Mahama was reacting to President Akufo-Addo’s recent comment that he has sanitized the mining sector and that his fight against illegal mining remains unchanged.
Addressing a rally at Manso Nkwanta in the Ashanti Region, on December 1, 2020, President Akufo-Addo noted that ” I will not support illegal mining which will destroy the environment. My decision remains the same, where I am on this fight remains unchanged.”
But in an interview with Kwame Minkah and Mugabe Maase on Power FM, Mr Mahama mocked President Akufo-Addo’s promise and said if he was committed to fighting illegal mining as he said yesterday, then he should not find it difficult fromdrinking from Birim River whose source is in the president’s home region – the Eastern Region.
“If he [Akufo-Addo] says he has tackled galamsey, I am daring him, he should get a cup and fetch water from Birim river and drink it,” Mr Mahama stated. “Previously Akyem people could drink from Birim so if he says he has conquered illegal mining, he should be able to drink from Birim.”
To him, illegal mining has not been dealt with by the Akufo-Addo government because the river bodies have been heavily polluted than when the NDC was leaving power in 2017.
He said President Akufo-Addo’s government burnt excavators belonging to small scale miners when his government declared war on illegal mining in 2017 only to turn around to seize concessions from persons who had legally acquired them and gave them to his party executives.
“Go and see our river bodies today… Go and see Birim and Ankobra… Today the waterbodies are looking like coffee because its is the NPP executives who are now doing the illegal mining with impunity,” he said.
Small Scale Miners Suffering
The NDC flagbearer has been consistent with his policies to sanitize the mining sector in his message to Ghanaians.
Last month while addressing a rally at Tarkwa in the Western region, Mr Mahama urged small scale miners to vote out president Akufo-Addo in the upcoming elections for depriving them of their livelihoods.
He said the president in the run up to the 2016 elections promised to snaitize the mining sector and regulate their businesses to save the environment in mining areas but has pushed them out of job and replaced them with party faithfuls when voted into power.
“Today we are here and witnessing what is happening in this area. The NPP government has collapsed small scale mining that feeds you here and subjected you to hardship and hunger,” Mr Mahama said while explaining that the NPP has not been fair to legitimate small scale miners who are not aligned to the ruling NPP.
“He [President Akufo-Addo] has not only collapsed your businesses, he has given your jobs to party cronies, his DCEs and party executives to mine in areas that you people should be getting your source of livelihoods,” the former president added.
To him, President Akufo-Addo did not promise the people such discriminattion hence when they go to the polls on December 7, they should kick the NPP government out and pave way for the next NDC government which will create avenues in the mining sector for qualified people to be returned back to their lands to work.
“When you bring us to power, we have a policy that will allow you to get back your excavators that were seized under the guise of tackling illegal mining (galamsey) under this government. We will ensure you get back your jobs and mine in a responsible way that will not negatively affect the water bodies and arable lands,” Mr Mahama assured in Akan.
The NDC leader says he is committed to creating a Gold Board that will streamline the activities of small scale miners in the country to preserve the environment.
“We don’t have a proper supervisory structures that is why we have said we will bring a Gold Board,” Mr Mahama told Mugabe and Kwame as he explained that graduates from University of Mines will be sent to districts to monitor how mining would be done and also ensure that miners strictly adhere to the mining standards.
In his visit to the Asantehene some weeks ago, Mr Mahama said “We’ll introduce cooperative mining so that if these miners have cooperative groups, we’ll get mining safety officers to ensure that they’re doing things right to ensure that they don’t destroy the land in the process. Whatever, it is they make, they’ll save it, they’ll use the resources to ensure that the land is restored. We’ll plant trees on those lands and repay their monies. If they don’t do that, we’ll use their monies to pay for a bulldozer to clear the place and the people who help restore the land.
“There are lots of things we can do to ensure that the country benefits from mining. God blessed us with it so it is pointless using military men to chase these youth to kill them. So as for us, we’ll make new laws to ensure development in our country,” Mr Mahama added.