The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has said that the fight against illegal mining (galamsey) and natural resources mismanagement should not be a political stunt.
Speaking at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources (FRNR) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Samuel Abu Jinapor said that it is wrong to address the issue of exploitation of natural resources at the play of party politics.
“We cannot come to grips with these issues if they continue to be politicized and exploited by political parties for their personal gains. It cannot be right in the face of all of these challenges for opposition party leaders to say, if you vote us into power, we will release all jailed illegal miners and allow you to mine,” he said.
The Lands Minister added that “likewise it cannot be right if ruling party leaders put their political or economic fortunes ahead of this fight. This fight must be above partisan politics. It must be a national fight and it requires our collective efforts to win this noble struggle of ours.”
The Minister noted that perpetrators of illegal mining are known by authorities and thus called for a collaborative effort to ensure that natural resources are safeguarded.
“I can say without a shred of equivocation no one can bring a chain saw to harvest rosewood in the forest or an excavator to mine in the bush, to work on river bodies in the community without the knowledge or passive approval somehow of the chief, elders, the assemblymen, opinion leaders and local authorities in the community,” he stated.
Mr Jinapor said that the efforts made to fight illegal mining will be in vain without the support of every individual adding that there needs to be a collective action, education sensitization, and re-orientation.
He stated that “we will not make headway if natural resources, forest and range managers, security personnel, and other professionals connive with the very people against whom they are to enforce government policies and laws. We are faced with a conundrum.”
The 40th-anniversary celebration of the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources (FRNR), KNUST seeks to highlight the impact of the FRNR in solving global and Ghana’s natural resources challenges.
The anniversary was themed “FRNR 40 Years of Training Natural Resource Managers: A New age For A New Focus”.
Mr Jinapor entreated the faculty to add its voice to the fight against resource exploitation adding that the country needs the independent, authoritative, and strong moral voices of the faculty in addressing the menace.
“As natural resources managers, you must provide strategic and material insights into these conversations and debates: what is the Ghanaian attitude toward conservation and preservation of the nation’s resources for the next generation?”
“How does that feed into the broader policy of responsible and sustainable management of our natural resources? How can we re-orient our citizens to buy into the broader policy of preserving our environment and natural resources,” he said.
Chief of Asakyire, Nana Osei Mensah Bonsu who represented Asantehene, also added that “the government should provide the enabling environment for them to be able to deliver on the conservation and sustainable management of our natural resources.”