Opinion: I Am Disappointed in Our Environmental Scientists by Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

The writer, Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

I suppose that Professor-Emeritus Alfred Apau Oteng-Yeboah was in the country when the Atiwa-Atweredu Bauxite Compact with the Chinese Government was being hotly debated in Parliament (See “Sacrificing Atewa[sic] Forest in China Bauxite Deal Not Acceptable – Prof. Oteng-Yeboah” AfricaNewsAnalysis.com 1/25/19). That was the time that the University of Ghana’s retired Professor of Environmental Biology ought to have demanded to be allowed to make an expert presentation on the august floor of the House before the official vote to ratify the deal was taken. In the present circumstances, and well after the fact, I don’t see that much can be done to vacate or abrogate the deal, except to fight to ensure that the excavation or extraction of the $2 Billion worth of bauxite is legitimately lifted out of the soils of the Akyem-Abuakwa-located Atiwa Range with close and meticulous supervision, in order to ensure that nothing more than what clearly appears in the agreement is lifted out of the sacred soils of Akyem-Abuakwa and, in effect, Ghana at large.

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As for the question of the discovery and naming of plant and animal species in the Atiwa Forest Range, the blame must be squarely placed at the doorstep of our local environmental scientists, and not at the doorstep of the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). If, indeed, our environmental scientists really cared about our forestry and water resources and about the cataloguing of our plant and animal species and other natural resources in the Atiwa Forest Range, we would not be discussing the same long after an agreement had been ratified between the Government of Ghana and the latter’s Chinese counterpart. But what has deeply worried me more than anything else, for quite some time now, is how erudite and distinguished environmental scientists like Prof. Oteng-Yeboah apparently sat duck while illegal Ghanaian miners unwisely collaborated with “Changfang” – I suppose that is what it is called – machine-wielding illegal Chinese miners to effectively lay a humongous chunk of our forestry resources and pristine waterbodies to waste.

It has taken the better part of nearly two years for the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party to bring the situation under control, so it is rather ironic for Prof. Oteng-Yeboah to so cavalierly presume to lecture President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on the long-term deleterious impact of massive bauxite mining in the Atiwa Range. Indeed, had the Chinese not been invited to mine bauxite in the Atiwa Scarp – for as the Israeli Ambassador to Ghana recently had occasion to observe, the Atiwa Range is not really a “mountain” but actually a hill, although relatively speaking, the Israeli Ambassador had absolutely no right, whatsoever, to presume to lecture Ghanaians on what geographical structure or structures qualified to be described as a “mountain” or a “hill,” for that matter – Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, the younger brother of former President Mahama, would have been given carte-blanch to “cream off” the Atiwa bauxite for less than a pittance.

To be certain, the entire West African sub-region has been characterized by expert geographers and cartographers as a “Plateau” or a Tableland. The preceding notwithstanding, I find the cynical attempt by Prof. Oteng-Yeboah to second-guess the fact of whether the Chinese would strictly stick to their end of the contractual bargain by only lifting bauxites, and nothing else, to be inexcusably preposterous, although quite understandable, for the simple reason that it is the bounden duty of the Ghanaian contractual counterparts to ensure that the Chinese strictly stick to the tenets of the agreement. If our expert representatives cannot do this, then it goes without saying that we deserve whatever deal we get in the end or in the process. We, as a people, cannot continue to behave as if we are bereft of common sense and protective selflove.

At any rate, the afore-referenced deal with the Chinese is far better than what Ghanaians would have gotten from Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, the proprietor of the firm called Engineers & Planners, who, had his elder brother, former President John Dramani Mahama, won the 2016 Presidential Election, would have been given carte-blanch or free concessionary rein to use the Atiwa Range, as well as Nyinahin, any which way that he so desired. Is this the sort of self-protective and environmentally greening concession that Professor Oteng-Yeboah would rather have preferred?

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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