“I remember some of us asked him (Osafo-Maafo) to retract and apologise but I didn’t hear anything and it had to take the President to do that; may be too little too late in the day…the presidential regret though mitigating does not take away the integrity challenge that the Senior Minister put across” says the Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr.
The senior journalist was reacting to President Akufo-Addo’s comment on Aisha Huang; Chinese galamsey queen and a subsequent reaction from pressure group, Occupyghana.
If you may recall the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo had at a town hall meeting, justified the decision for the galamsey queen to be deported saying; “Putting (Aisha Huang) in jail in Ghana is not going to solve your money problem. It is not going to make you happy or me happy. We have a very good relationship with China. The main company that is helping develop the infrastructure system in Ghana is Sinohydro, it is a Chinese Company. It is the one that is going to help process our bauxite and provide about $2 billion to us. So when there are these kinds of arrangements there are other things behind the scenes. That is not important…the most important thing is that she has been deported out of Ghana. There are many other things beyond what we see in these matters and everybody is wide awake. The most important thing is that we established regulations and we are protecting our environment. That is far more important than one Chinese woman who has been deported back to her country.”
Months later, President Akufo-Addo, speaking at a forum in Princeton University during a visit to the United States of America said, “the decision to deport Aisha Huang in hindsight was a mistake and that is why that process and procedure is being stopped.”
However, OccupyGhana in reaction to the President’s comment expressed worry at how long it took for government to realise that deporting Aisha Huang was a mistake.
“What we are concerned with is that it had to take hindsight, an understating of the situation only after it had happened and almost two years after the fact, for the Government to realise how bad a mistake that was. Ghanaians knew right from the start that it was a mistake and said so to the Government, which ignored us, making this regret very little and very late,” a portion of their statement read.
Kweku Baako who had earlier asked the Senor Minister to apologise said on Joy Newsfile programme, Saturday that letting Aisha Huang go questioned the country’s seriousness and consistency in fighting galamsey.
According to him “letting her go the way we did, did no favour to government and I think that that one is a minus. The presidential regret though belated has a mitigating effect but it doesn’t purge government of the integrity challenge that occurred”.
Commenting on Osafo Maafo’s comment, he said: “this is somebody when I’m discussing I find it so difficult because I have huge respect for him. He’s a senior friend of mine but I think he goofed beyond recovery. There was no relationship from all my investigations between what had happened to Aisha and the Sinohydrio deal thing…all that he should have done if he wasn’t capable of doing is to let somebody with the legal acumen from the Attorney General’s office to talk about it, explain why the nolle prosequi is…unfortunately, (being the senior minister) gave the credence to what he said, that’s what made some people believe it but the truth is that it was a baseless statement…and this gave government serious integrity challenge”.