What is Protectionism in the Ghanaian Context?

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“Welcome to Ghana, a country where a poor man goes to jail for stealing a goat, and the affluent walking through the corridors of powers are only given the punishment of “payback” for raping the public purse” at gargantuan tunes.”

poorMust the fabled Ghanaian hospitality be a vulnerability?
Ghanaians are noted for our compassionate and hospitable nature and it is common to find citizens giving unsolicited support to foreigners who may be in dire need of such.

It is however sad to note that, many a times, these kind gestures of ours have been fed to the dogs by the supposed “vulnerables”. Mention, can be made of the trade issues preceeding the 1948 riots, the Fulani saga (in the Asante-Akyim areas) and now, galamsey.

Issues of migration and economics saw a big name in the European Union block breaking away to concentrate their efforts on their national interest ahead of all other possible interests – BREXIT. Irrespective of whichever lens one uses in judging this audacious step of the people of the United Kingdom, one thing can never be overemphasised that “the interest of the Crown reigns Supreme in all matters coming under its Jurisdiction”.

The Alien Compliance Order of 1969 by the Acheampong regime saw the expulsion of foreign nationals leading to the confiscations and nationalisation of the assets of expatriates with zero tolerance for expropriation, with the aim of safeguarding Ghanaian jobs and ending the price discrimination that existed in the open market then.

This act of economic and political intimidation was reciprocated in kind by the Nigerian government. The many Ghanaians in Lagos and other states (the Agege stories were no falacies) had to come back home with their belonging packed in a woven bag nicknamed “efie wura soa me” (Landlord, help me carry) or “Ghana must go”. Mention can also be made of Operation Feed Yourself which was instituted to boost agricultural yield and ultimately generate more interest in the area of farming.

In a period of about 3 years, two xenophobic attacks in South Africa resulted in the loss of lives of foreign nationals, predominantly Africans, including Ghanaians and Nigerians. How did the affected African countries respond to the issue? Would the affected countries have to wait for a third attempt to call their shots while keeping their aces on their chests?
What is the state doing to protect the interest of her citizens? Forgive my curiosity but let me ask this, are we still under the grace of the “dzi wo fie asem” (be concerned only with what affects your home) foreign policy?

Lives, property and human dignity was lost to the Fulani menace not so long ago in the Asante-Akyim North, South and Central constituencies, and the rippling effect on neighbouring towns is a subject for another day. Women were raped by the Fulanis in their homes and little boys as well as able-bodied men were shot dead for attempting to protect their own property (farms) in their motherland. Need I say the rest is history?

Did you know that some of the burnt cars from the June 3rd disaster are still on site (could they be serving aesthetic purposes…)? What has the state done for those who cheated death and survived with varying degrees of injuries? Well, let me be charitable and assume that “something-is-in-the-pipeline”. Is NADMO now resourced beyond mosquito nets, mattresses and bags of rice???
What is the latest on the Mawarko issue???

When are we to expect the next fire outbreak in our large markets???
Are we happy that we keep soaring up the ladder of open defecation like an eagle???

What about the EPA, are they now very efficient? The GTA GSA, FDA, are they still inefficient that Ghanaians are still buying fake, expired products on our markets???

And for the “norrr norrr” parliamentarians, the least said about them the better. I was embarrassed as a Citizen of Ghana when one MP shouted from behind saying, “Wo boa” (you’re lying) during HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s first State of the Nation Address, while others fulfilled their only use in the house in subsequent sittings by raising placards.

Fast forward, we’re now faced with the devil and the deep blue sea, where would be our safe haven in this galamsey era?
I hate to flog a dead horse but truth be told, have we not been fighting galamsey for over 10years?

It is quite sad that governments over the years, have failed to exercise the prerequisite political will and our security apparatus has been incapacitated in cracking the whip.

How well have the chiefs in whom most of these mining concessions are vested served their people? As cocoa farmers keep selling their farms to miners, how do we achieve the 1,000,000 tonnes of cocoa target at the end of the calendar year?

From Amanfi West through to Manso-Datano to Kwabeng, the evidence of galamsey can be found not on the face of the pink sheet but rather, the deplorable lands and water bodies that look brighter than chocolate with cream.

Previously, the Birim river runs through the school farm of Abuakwa State College calmly and clearly but today, I better spare you the gory details. Rumour has it that, the Achimota forest is going to be touched for a certain project and our Ivorian neighbours have also chastised us for polluting their water bodies.

Ghana and the Republic of China have enjoyed a seemingly symbiotic relationship. The Chinese have unapologetically milked our land (with the help of our own people) and left it in a very sour state, and the irony of the whole situation is the threats in parts of the letter issued to the Lands Minister by the Chinese Mission in Ghana.

“Since a great part of Chinese nationals involved in illegal mining are also victims of fraud and blackmail, if casualties are incurred and plundering and looting take place during operation, it will be extremely harmful to the bilateral relations,” it said.

“There are a number of distorted or biased reports and stories on Chinese people, especially some reports and cartoons that are defaming Chinese leaders and senior officials. The Chinese side is very concerned about this unhealthy tendency.

We hope that the Ghanaian government will pay due attention to this situation, take the necessary action to stop such things from happening again and guide the media to give an objective coverage on the illegal mining issue so as to create a good environment for further development of our bilateral exchanges and cooperation,” the letter said.

At this juncture, one may ask – was the 50,000 cedis donation to the Ghana Police service by the Ghana Association of Chinese Societies in support of the construction of the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards (PIPS) Headquarters at the Nima Police Station just a nibble by the latter to neutralise the former?

On 23rd April 2017 Lands Minister, John Peter Amewu dismissed all mine officers across the country for negligence in the fight against illegal mining and sleeping on the job which I believe is in the right direction. Nonetheless, the small scale miners operating under license and observing the rules must be allowed to stay in business while the regulatory agencies sit up and play their in loco parentis role.

In hundreds of years to come when posterity throws its light back to our days and the damage done to the environment, would we be able to hide our role?

“The Ghana Water Company had to shut down some of their treatment plants in recent past because of excessive pollution of water bodies through illegal mining. Though we believe in the power of education and sensitization, we also believe that lack of enforcement of the laws would slow down or even prevent effective implementation of most initiatives in sanitation and water” – Benjamin Lartey (Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation)

“We can tell you as scientists and environmentalists that the impact of galamsey on this country is transboundary, it is intergenerational and it affects everybody, no matter where you are living in Ghana” – Dr. Chris Gordon (Director of Institute of Environment and Sanitation, University of Ghana)

Lest I forget, if you happen to have some free time one of these nights while you’re in the capital, take a walk through Circle (Dubai), Makola and the areas around Darkuman. You’d be surprised at the number of people who sleep in the open in front of stores. It is pathetic, to say the least. Indeed, “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others” (Animal Farm)

But wait a minute, don’t you think that the individual also owes the state a duty of care, patriotism and utmost good faith in all situations, since apparently the mental picture that has been painted over the years suggests that government is responsible for everything, which would possibly include “sweeping our rooms”?

Let the leaders of our land be compassionate enough to protect the future of this country by any means necessary, and not just their own parochial interest. We are the CHANGE we seek!

By : Sammy Adjei / Newsghana.com.gh

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