James Kwabena Bonfeh, former Ag General Secretary, CPP

The fight against “galamsey” under many code names has been renewed with fierce intensity. We are at it again, burning excavators without regard to Law, as “a method in dealing with an emergency.”

The established place of the Bible as an authoritative source in scientific scholarship is not the focus of this article. However, I precede the views in this piece with a recount of an incident in the exodus of the Israelites recorded in Exodus 32 and 34. It is the story of the ten commandment found in Exodus 20:1 – 17.

Moses had been invited into the heart of Mount Sinai on the instruction of Jehovah. The Lord wrote His commandments on rocky tablets and hewed them out. Moses took the Law to Israel and found them in breach. In his frustration and ensuing anger, he threw the tablets of law at foot, breaking them into pieces. Eventually, he had to endure laboriously, hewing new tablets for the Lord to rewrite the same laws. Breaking the law in the face of abundant impunity is no excuse, solution or cure. It is simply, an aggravated impunity.

Ghana, for her endowments in minerals especially gold, was nicknamed by the invaders of our soil, Gold Coast. That in itself, self-evidently shows our forebears mined gold. That they mined and yet maintained an environmental equilibrium is suggestive of a certain discipline and order. Therefore if today, we are having problems with mining, the truth could not be far from our methods. Methodologies, unlike resources which they are employed to extract them, are not providential but human.

It is trite knowledge that the quality of any product especially in the academic space, largely depends on the validity, verifiability, authenticity, and reliability of its methods. If the methods are questionable, the results certainly cannot stand the test of any serious inquiry. Therefore the fallacy of “the end justifies the means” cannot be sustained under any circumstance in a serious, lifelong and impactful exercise of problem solving. Life is about solving problems.

In the search for solutions to an entrenching, NOT entrenched, mining (illegal, irresponsible, reckless & destructive) menace, we seem to be giving up already on the arduous task of nation building.

It was not an easy exercise when we chose to assert our inalienable rights to self-determine on March 6, 1957. Nothing good comes easy. Nothing worth its sort will seek quick fixes like “kabakaba” weeding in Kintampo. The State of Ghana by her agencies know ALL the marked areas of land under “reconnaissance” “prospecting” or “mining” permits. These same agencies; Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Authority, MMDAs etc, etc, know the names and identities to which such concessions were given. While at it, the arbitrariness in discussing the mining, limiting it to ONLY localized and NOT ‘internationalized’ or ‘multi-nationalized’ excesses is nauseating. How difficult is it to identify wrongdoers on marked physical land sites?

No law can be better than the people who are called upon to obey it or those called upon to implement it (Humphrey, 1964). St. Augustine also said, “an unjust law is no law at all.” How can the citizenry and leaders alike surrender to the impunity of a few reckless ones if indeed we think and aspire differently? On Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, the Supreme Court of Ghana in Bomfeh Vrs. Attorney General (J1/14/2017) [2019] GHASC 2, said: “It is our considered opinion that the acts complained of i.e. the construction of the National Cathedral and the setting up of the Hajj Board does not contravene the guarantees of the freedom of religion and manifestation of beliefs of the people of Ghana. The State is free to lend support or aid to a religious group if it deems such beneficence to be for the good of the nation.

We rather see the government’s plan to build a National Cathedral and the setting up of the Hajj Board as the desire of the state to provide for social cohesion and unity in a country where 88.8 percent of its population is predominantly Christian and Islamic. We find this to be in tune with the political and social objectives as set out in the Directive Principles of State Policy under the provisions of articles 35 and 37 of the Constitution, referred to by the Plaintiff. We take note that the Government has maintained a consistent theme about the unifying effects of the Cathedral on Ghanaian Christians. So far its contribution is to provide land for the cathedral, and the actual construction to be sponsored and financed by the churches.

Citing the case above in respect of the decision of the apex court is not for any self-glorification but to make an emphatic point about the insincerity we live as Ghanaians. We have the penchant for declaratory religiosity but with insincerity and hypocrisy, depart from hallowed religious values of honesty and discipline necessary to drive national development efforts. The “assurance that God is reliable and dependable lies in the truth that He is the God of Law. His will and Law are ONE. His law is never arbitrary or subject to whim and fancy.” If there is any singular subject that automatically guarantees peace, harmony, love or stability and decency, it is Law. If the law is bad, it must give way to amendment. Failure to subscribe to lasting principles which often are difficult and daring, we resort to “easy fixes” which have kept this rather beautiful nation in a spiralling wander in the wilderness of growing impunity. If we were that “Christian and Islamic” as the Law Lords held, how come we are miserably somersaulting before our precepts? Insincerity?

Now to those who have become so obsessed with the “regime-change” or “failed Mahama 2020 comeback” engendered #fixthecountrynow campaign, be they in the President’s New Patriotic Party or the Opposition/Minority venom spewing National Democratic Congress or innocently joining the “agenda”, there are no quick fixes. The late Dr. Ephraim Amu whom I have come to learn was not so enthused about the methods used in the struggle for independence once preached:  

When the struggle for independence reached its climax in this country in 1948, it was common thing to hear people remark: “these white people, they are cheating us too much, we must remove them from office and take their places ourselves, and all the evil will stop.” Some of our own people who studied the situation more patiently and carefully pointed out that fighting against the evils in the country was not the same thing as fighting against the Whiteman. The Whiteman may go, but the evils may still remain; and affairs in the country today have proved those people right. All the power and key positions have been surrendered to us but have we got rid of those evils we severely criticized in the Whiteman? Answer the question in all honesty.”

Leadership of Ghana has the utmost responsibility to lead us all in responsible ways to find lasting solutions to our myriad self-inflicted, recurrent problems. The Intelligence Community must rise to the occasion to do the needful than allowing us to appear so hopelessly helpless. Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana can be better than this. We are better than this! God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong. May we cherish fearless Honesty.

*The writer, James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr., is the Executive Director of Youth for Action Ghana, YfAG; a civil society platform with about two decades of work in the extractive sector, mainly in mining communities.