Thursday, 1 October 2015

When Will The Transfer Of Ghana's Natural Capital To A Powerful Few End?

During a 2003 meeting in the  UK, attended by the Eton-educated ex-SAS officer, and mercenary, Simon Mann, and the Nigerian-born Lebanese businessman, Ely Calil, at which the overthrow of Equatorial Guinea's President Theodoro Obiang was discussed, Ely Calil was said to have remarked: "Now there's a place I would like to be king for a day."

Now that is a phrase pregnant with meaning: As Equatorial Guinea's king-for-a-day, Ely Calil would probably have spent the day signing oil agreement after oil agreement, favouring companies fronting for him, which gave ownership of that oil-rich nation's oil deposits to Calil and his associates.

Perhaps Ely Calil should head for Ghana instead - for it is a welcoming place where he will not need to spend vast sums to effect regime-change by invading mercenaries, to enable him grab a valuable share of Ghana's untold wealth.

He can simply buy greedy and selfish politicians, who will happily collude with him to shortchange Ghana, by signing some of the world's worst agreements, to favour him, for small change: just a few million dollars.

With greedy and cunning politicians like the James Afenyo Markins, the Freddie Blays, and their ilk, around, there will be no dearth of politicians happy to accommodate Calil - and with their help he will soon become the wealthiest Nigerian-born Lebanese tycoon in the world: and swiftly rise to the top of the list of the world's 50 most swashbuckling billionaires.

The crimes of our political class are many and egregious. Where else in the world but Ghana, would politicians ignore national laws giving a monopoly on the development and operation of ports, to a Ports and Harbours Authority - that has already borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to extend and enlarge the nation's ports - and instead give a foreign company with no money of its own, and with a chequered past like Calil's late friend Tiny Rowland's rump Lohnro, the go-ahead to build a freeport to service Ghana's oil and gas industry, as a monopoly? Pure madness.

The Ghanaian countryside is crawling with Chinese nationals engaged in small-scale gold mining - a sector reserved for Ghanaians only. Yet, behind them are said to be  powerful and politically well-connected Ghanaians.

In the meantime, rivers and soils in vast swathes of Ghana's landmass, as well as its ground water table, are being poisoned with heavy metals and toxic chemicals such as cyanide and mercury with impunity. Why are those small-scale Chinese gold miners not being forced to pay for the clean-up of the environmental pollution they are responsible for - which will affect the quality of life of present and future generations of our people? Do they not pay reclamation bonds upfront as required?

And do our leaders not realise that the impunity with which the wealthy criminal syndicates behind illegal logging in Ghana operate (especially those behind the illegal logging that goes on unabated in the Akyem Juaso section of the Atewa range upland evergreen rainforest) has so emboldened them, that they are now putting the Densu Basin at serious risk?

Where will Accra and other urban areas dependant on the Densu River for their drinking water supply, get water from, if the Densu's watershed is eventually destroyed?

Do National Security officials not recognise the threat posed to the Densu Basin by the wealthy criminals who sponsor chainsaw gangs to engage in illegal logging at Akyem Juaso  - and its security implications?

Why should a few super-rich crooks be allowed to grow even wealthier by destroying an upland evergreen rainforest providing ecosystem services vital for ensuring the well-being and quality of life of millions of Ghanaians?

When will that abomination be halted, I ask? There is only one route out of the rainforest at Akyem Juaso for the illegal chainsaw gangs to evacuate their bush-cut lumber: the road off the Accra-Kumasi highway, which begins from Akyem Juaso through Saamang and ends at Osino junction to join the Accra-Kumasi highway.  So why don't the security agencies place surveillance cameras along it? And if they also know that the illegal logging is centred in the areas bordering forestry reserve pillars 92, 93, 95, 96, 97 and 98, known locally as "Thompson" and "Francois" why don't they focus on that section of the Atewa range?

As the Anas Amereyaws work hard to hasten the end of the days of impunity in Ghana, the question our educated urban ruling elites must answer is: When will their transfer of Ghana's natural capital to a powerful few end?  There will doubtless be consequences for them one day. They had better beware - for the ordinary people of Ghana cannot be fooled forever. And neither will they remain forever patient. That is why the transfer of Ghana's natural capital to a powerful and greedy few must end.

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