Yussif Seidu Kudus Gbeadese has on behalf of the youth reacted to the opening of a one month window for salvaging of already- cut logs in the Savannah region by the Savannah Regional House of Chief.
The Youth Imam siad, the youth “feel this decision is not only a betrayal of trust but a smack on the face of our ancestors and the “skins” the chiefs so swore by to protect their people and the land as well”.
Below is the full statement.
RE: SAVANNAH REGION HOUSE OF CHIEFS GIVES ONE MONTH WINDOW FOR ALREADY-CUT LOGS TO BE MOVED.
On behalf of some section of the Youth of Savannah Region (Gonjaland) who are angered by the activities of illegal logging, I wish to convey our utter disappointment and disproval of the unfortunate decision arrived at by the Savannah Regional House of Chiefs in respect of the above subject matter. Although, we are not surprised at the unpopular U-turn on the obvious populist-public-show of a fight against illegal logging among other menace in Savannah Region (Gonjaland), we feel insulted and exploited yet again.
A press conference addressed by the secretary to the Savannah Regional House of Chiefs’ Committee on Environment who also doubles as the Registrar of the Gonja Traditional Council, Mr Abutu Kapouri, has scheduled a one month window within which illegal loggers can cart their already harvested logs from Savannah Region. In furtherance, these loggers are directed to pay a registration fee of GHC 1000 to the paramouncies where they operate and a flat GHC 5000 on each truck load of logs, says Mr Kapouri. This will be effective from 12th July to 11th August.
We feel this decision is not only a betrayal of trust but a smack on the face of our ancestors and the “skins” the chiefs so swore by to protect their people and the land as well. Gonjaland which was noted for it’s thick forest and arable land has not only lost the thick rainforest so fast, but the arable land is gradually becoming dead soil with their attendant rainstorms and ultimate destruction of lives and properties.
It is recalled that on the 21st of May, 2021, a well attended meeting of the Regional House of Chiefs arrived at a resolution to permanently ban illegal logging, commercial charcoal burning and other related environmental degradation activities in Savannah region effective 10th May, 2021. In order to enforce this ban, a five member committee of eminent chiefs was set up. His Royal Highness, Bolewura Sarfo Kutugefeso (I) was made to chair this committee. Other members include:
-Yapeiwura ABT Zakaria
-Gbenapewura Mahama Sakan
-Naa Dr Agba Jaaga
-Mr Abutu Kapouri (secretary).
Regardless of the doubts of many on this committee to execute its mandate without fear or favor, we still gave them our full support, owing to the fact that all of us become victims in one way or another when the rainstorms and other disasters come. Just when we were about to clap for the opened show of action especially from the Bolewura, our expectations have been confirmed; a retreat and a covert move to get the loggers back to business.
When the Savannah Regional Minister, Hon Saeed Muaz, made that bold statement on the 30th of March,2021 in which he declared war against illegal logging, and pledging his readiness to fight this menace, I was first to chuckle because I knew history was about to be repeated. Three months down, there is nothing to show for the sweat in making this pledge. Will the chiefs ever support any such move?
The same enthusiasm his predecessor, Hon Salifu Braimah displayed upon assumption of office as the first Regional Minister. He equally constituted a 7-member Tejepewura Bunyanso (I) committee to review recommendations made by the Alhaji Nyari committee in which a total ban on logging and aggressive afforestation program were proposed. Information has it that most DCEs who were part of this committee never attended even a single meeting-the rest is history. Some of us called his bluff because we knew what was going to happen in the end.
Meanwhile, one of our sons, a royal and a Member of Parliament for the Damongo Constituency is the minister for lands and natural resources. Another great son, Hon Sulemana Nelson is the deputy CEO of Forestry Commission. These two persons and their government have initiated a very good and aggressive afforestation program (Green Ghana Project) to plant and nurture 5million trees. Instead of our chiefs to take the lead and support this noble initiative, they are the very people who are acting in contrast.
This singular 5th June resolution as read by Mr Kapouri is a betrayal of the two persons mentioned above and a recipe for further destruction of our forest reserve. How do you refer to an act as illegal and then turn around to create a window of opportunity for same to be perpetuated in a well arranged backdoor scheme and covert moves?
Just like many of these plenty talks, populists outbursts and well-crafted stage-plays by some of our chiefs and politicians in the past resulted in the destruction of over 21,894,190 trees in Savannah Region, same way this unfortunate decision will aid and further entrench the impunity with which our trees felled. Most unfortunately, the impunity has assumed an annoying trend of cutting economic and medicinal trees like Shea, Dawadawa, Kepok among others. Will our ancestors forgive us for this recklessness and selfishness?
By this release, we (the concerned youth) are calling on the King of Gonjaland, Yagbonwura Boresa Tuntumba, the Bolewura and his committee members, and all the paramount chiefs of Gonjaland to as a matter of urgency withdraw the 5th June, 2021 directives and ensure that the proposed ban is permanently effected without delay. Failure to to heed our call, we shall initiate a campaign against such move through a petition and other means possible that will get us results. Demonstrations and peaceful marches won’t be out of the options.
We are aware that anytime such window is opened, it is just another way of giving the loggers a blank cheque to go back to business and do the worse. It is a shame for us to eat back our own spit due to the monetary and other inducements from these loggers and other influential hidden faces in this business.
Enough is enough! Savannah youth must stand up and save our dead forest cover.
Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese
(The Youth Imam)
By Sumaila Hafiz Kamara