After reading this piece, you may think I am a sadist. You may even compare me to an ISIS terrorist or a member of Boko Haram. Several decades ago, the philosopher Karl Popper wrote the following in his most powerful book, his ‘opus magnum’ which is entitled, ‘The Open Society And Its Enemies.’ “We demand that the state restricts freedom to a certain extent, so that in the end everyone’s freedom is protected by the law”
All things being equal, commentaries written in haste can be harsh. I do agree because I am in a haste and angry and there is no time to lose. I have nothing against topicality, but especially when nobody really seems to know what should be done next, there are good reasons for stepping back and looking at things from a different perspective; like the angle, I am going to tackle the issue of galamsey. When I read in the newspapers that the government has trained some 400 military, police, navy and other security personnel to help fight galamsey, I realized how serious the case is. In the beginning I decided to relentlessly use my punchy and trenchant pen to fight the menace but this time around I think I need to do more to make the dream of kicking out galamsey from this country come to pass. That is why I am writing this application to the office of the Army Chief of Staff to recruit me as a galamsey soldier.
I want to be posted to Denkyira Obuase to start my job as a galamsey soldier and when I finish accomplishing my duty at that God-damn town, I will then request to be posted to other places. In fact, immediately after I pass out at the training center, I demand to be promoted as a platoon commander. And when I and my armed platoon enter Denkyira Obuase, the first thing we will do is to round up able bodied young men in the town, match them to where Major Max Mahama fell and ask them to dig graves around the place. Unlike “Operation Vanguard” which has been adopted by the 400 officers, that of my platoon will be code-named “Operation Bury Galamseyers.” They will be made to understand that anytime a galamseyer is killed by my platoon, the person will be buried there to remind them that anyone who will engage in galamsey will end up there. It will also be a tribute to the late Major Mahama. My brother, the boy’s death pained me paa oo!
After this assignment, my platoon will acquire shovels for all the young men and women in the town and match them on daily basis to galamsey sites where they will be forced to cover where they dug for gold in order to reclaim the land. Anyone who will attempt to run away will be mowed down like the way policemen fire at armed robbers. As for the women at Denkyira Obuase, all that they would be required to do is to go to the farms everyday and uproot cassava which would be cooked for the workers on the sites. They may be required to sprinkle salt on the cooked cassava but no stew would be allowed to accompany the meal. Any Jupiter who will dare stampede my platoon would be doing so at his or her peril. After all, AK 47 Assault rifles are not meant to be used to hunt rats. The operation at Denkyira Obuase will take only six months and by the time the mission is accomplished, the people of Denkyira Obuase will realize that you cannot take the law into your hands and go about destroying the environment and when a young military officer is assigned to check you, you turn around to lynch him in a barbaric manner.
If galamseyers at Kyebi and its environs think they are hard nuts to crack, they should get prepared for the Angel Gabriel Platoon of galamsey fighters. My platoon is going to literally seize the Birim River from the hands of galamseyers. Fishes, crabs and crocodiles must return to the Birim River and this can only be possible if a few headstrong galamseyers are killed. I will like to appeal to the Minister of Forest and Natural Resources, Mr. Peter Amewu to start importing the drones he promised because my platoon will need them to survey the length and breadth of River Birim.
Any galamseyer arrested along the banks of River Birim would be forced to drink the polluted River Birim and feel how it is to drink a polluted water. Such a criminal will be killed and buried along the banks of River Birim to appease the river god. I know majority of the people of Kyebi will support my platoon because only a few of the people of Kyebi do galamsey while majority of the galamseyers are foreigners and people who do not hail from the place. Activities of these criminals have changed the old saying which is adored by the people of Kyebi: “Akyem kwaa a onom Brem”. This time because the river is so polluted that one cannot drink it, the saying has been changed to “Akyem Kwaa a onom pure water”
When the kitchen becomes too hot, I know the galamseyers operating along the banks of River Birim will try to join their colleagues who operate inside the Atiwa forest. We would inexorably pursue them there and this time, adopt guerilla warfare. We would marsh it up inside the forest and it would be bloody. It is going to be shoot on sight affair. Galamseyers are enemies of the environment and that constitutes a declaration of war. Our demand for them to abandon the operation is not opened to negotiation or discussion. They will stop their operations or they will face the bullets.
There are three things that these galamseyers can do to save their heads. Leave immediately and permanently all galamsey sites. Hand over all equipment used for the galamsey operations, including pick axes, pans, heavy earth moving machines, excavators, shovels and even cutlasses to the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and finally form groups of ex-galamsey workers so that the government will decide what can be done to create jobs for you. You were not born to have galamsey as the only opportunity for you. As for the chiefs who provide lands for the galamseyers, they have two choices to make. Either you are with us in the fight against galamsey or you are with the galamseyers. If you decide to be with the galamseyers, you will be declared a nation wrecker and a criminal for that matter. You will never know peace and we will name and shame you. Mark my words!
Galamseyers in the Western and Ashanti Regions should expect a lengthy battle. The war against galamsey in these two regions will not be like the war against corruption which is fought at courts of competent jurisdiction. The war against galamsey is going to be like the one which was fought between the US and the Taleban in Afghanistan. You must expect nothing but decisive liberation of all the degraded lands and polluted rivers. In these two regions where galamsey operations started way back in the early seventies, the battle is going to be a lengthy campaign unlike any other we had ever seen. The only way to defeat galamsey in these two regions is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it wherever it grows. And this is exactly what will happen to galamseyers in the Western and Ashanti regions in particular.
All well meaning Ghanaians have thrown their weight behind the fight because they understand that if we fail to fight the menace their unpolluted water bodies will in no time suffer the fate of Birim, Tano, Pra, Ankobra and other rivers which have been severely polluted through the activities of galamseyers. Indeed, the struggle ahead is a Herculean one because the galamseyers will surely fight back. But in this fight, we the good people of Ghana will define our times, not these criminals. It is a fight between good and evil and you know God is not neutral in such cases.
THE ROLE OF BNI IN THE FIGHT AGAINST GALAMSEY
The truth is that Ghana’s Bureau of National Intelligence (BNI) cannot match the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA or the MOSSAD of Israel or the KGB of Russia as far as intelligence gathering is concerned. But in this part of the world, our BNI cannot fail Ghanaians when it comes to spying on galamseyers. If the Operation Vanguard can succeed, the role of the BNI cannot be taken for granted. The BNI should go underground and identify all galamsey sites and inform the soldiers and policemen who have been tasked to root out galamsey. Haven identified the sites, the Operation Vanguard troops can then move in to arrest culprits, destroy equipment or possibly kill anyone who will try to stampede their operations.
A BNI operative can disguise himself as a person seeking for job at a galamsey site and work with them for some days in order to study their modus operandi. Such an operative can engage the galamseyers in conversation and debrief them to know who is behind the operation at the site and report back to the troops. If the galamseyers have a short hidden path which they normally use to the site, the operative can also inform the troops and direct them with his mobile phone. We must direct every resource at our disposal including every tool of intelligence and even intimidation to the destruction of Galamsey in this our dear country. There is no turning back.
By Eric Bawah