FORMER President Jerry John Rawlings has been awarded for his distinguish contribution towards the growth of the country’s mining sector.
He was awarded together with Ghana’s first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah, former member of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), Mr Ebo Tawiah, and former General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers Union, Mr Dominic Foevie.
They were awarded for playing a significant role in shaping the mining sector by the Ghana Mine Workers' Union (GMWU) as part of its 75th Anniversary celebration on October 18 in Accra. They received a plaque and a citation each to that effect.
In his address, the General Secretary of the union, Mr Prince William Ankrah, commended all awardees for their positive contributions towards the development of the mining sector.
He said President Nkrumah's vision and foresight led to the building of the Gold Refinery at Tarkwa.
According to him, although there was no written policy to guide the exploitation of the mineral resources, Dr Nkrumah remained steadfast and resolved to sustain the mining industry.
"Dr Nkrumah nationalised the sector to protect workers’ right to employment, a catalyst for industrialisation," he said.
For President Rawlings, the general secretary said from 1981 to 2000, he initiated and implemented aggressive policies to stimulate investment into the minerals economy.
“The mining sector, under his leadership, received priority attention unrivalled by any under the Economic Recovery Programme in 1983.
“He implemented specific sector policy reforms and promulgated a series of laws culminating in the creation of an effective regulatory framework that boosted foreign investments,” he said.
Mr Ankrah said Mr Tawiah was recognised for securing a tax-free paid overtime for the union and members of three other unions at a time when their salaries were meagre.
"Mr Tawiah ensured that all distressed state institutions earmarked for privatisation were done in line with laid down policies.
“Mr Foevie, for his part, played a pioneering role in shaping the mining industry by building a vibrant labour movement as the former Chairman of the Trades Union Congress’ Executive Board,” he added.
Preserve the environment
Receiving the award, Former President Rawlings expressed satisfaction for the recognition of his role and that of other awardees in revamping the sector for national development.
He said the public should help protect and preserve the environment from destruction through illegal mining, popularly known as ‘Galamsey’, which had affected the country’s ecosystem.
He admonished the authorities, especially the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to exhibit high sense of responsibility by enforcing the laws for effective environmental management.
“The country’s biggest challenge today is due to the growing absence of patriotism. Our patriotic sense and responsibility is lost,” he said.
He made reference to the illegal mining menace in the country as a testament of lack of patriotism.
"Entire rivers have been destroyed by the senseless and unbridled abuse caused by greed, unpatriotic attitudes and the failure of the mining supervisory agencies such as the EPA and the security agencies to enforce the laws.
“The problem of this brazen abuse is collective. There is no doubt that institutions have been weak and the commitment of successive governments even weaker because of shallow political will. Local people and traditional leaders are complicit.
"Until the average Ghanaian recognises the need to show responsibility, first to himself, family and environment, we will continue to experience economic, social and political poverty," former President Rawlings stated.