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Okyenhene calls on religious bodies to lead the fight against galamse

Okyenhene

The Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, has urged religious leaders to take an active role in environmental stewardship amidst the devastating effects of climate change on the global economy and human survival, as well as the scourge of illegal mining in Ghana. Speaking at a public lecture organized by the Graduate Students Association at the University of Ghana, themed “Transformational Leadership in Contemporary Ghana,” he emphasized the significant influence of religious institutions in Ghana, where the majority of citizens adhere to Christianity, Islam, or traditional beliefs.

“One of the cardinal principles underpinning these religions centres on environmental stewardship, yet our actions often fall short of these teachings,” Osagyefuo stated. He stresses the need for religious leaders to inspire their followers to adhere to their faiths’ environmental mandates.

Osagyefuo referenced Genesis 2:15 from the Bible, which underscores the duty of Christians to nurture and protect the environment: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

He also cited Surah Al-A’raf 7:31 from the Quran, which promotes moderation and the avoidance of waste, and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the importance of planting trees and preserving nature. “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (Sadaqah) for him,” he quoted from Sahih Bukhari.

Discussing traditional beliefs, he noted that the Akan people hold the Earth deity Asaase Yaa in high regard, reflecting a deep respect for the environment through practices and taboos. Osagyefuo questioned whether Ghanaians are truly living up to their religious principles regarding environmental stewardship. “The evidence suggests that we have much room for improvement. The Earth’s ability to support life is being severely compromised,” he said.

He also addressed the ongoing issue of illegal mining, or “galamsey,” which has significantly harmed the environment and posed a threat to sustainable development. “Despite the strides made by transformational leaders, several challenges persist in Ghana’s leadership landscape,” he remarked.

“My own efforts to combat galamsey have been vigorous, including calling for all-hands-on-deck approaches, destooling chiefs involved in illegal mining, and supporting government initiatives to end the menace. However, the fight against galamsey remains ongoing, and more robust measures are needed to protect our environment and communities.”

Additionally, the Okyenhene expressed concerns about the effectiveness of Ghana’s decentralization systems. He questioned whether the current local governance structures promote development at the grassroots level.

“The Local Governance framework is intended to bring governance closer to the people, ensuring that local authorities are more responsive to the needs and aspirations of their communities. However, the current practice often falls short of the constitutional mandates,” he noted, referencing Articles 243(2)(b) and 251(1) of the 1992 Constitution.

“Article 243(2)(b) stipulates that the District Chief Executive (DCE) is responsible for the day-to-day performance of the executive and administrative functions of the District Assembly. Similarly, Article 251(1) establishes the Executive Committee of a District Assembly, which is charged with performing these functions. However, in practice, the DCE often assumes roles beyond these mandates, overshadowing the contributions of assembly members who are members of the executive committee to whom these functions have been together given” Okyenhene noted

Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/Kojo Ansah

 

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