The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, has stated that there was never an attempt from the side of government to influence the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II statement delivered at the consultative dialogue on illegal mining a week ago in Kumasi.
Before delivering the opening address at the Regional Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining, Otumfuo indicated the Regional Minister and the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor had visited him a day before to ask him to stick to his script.
But the Asantehene before reading his speech then asked the gathering and government to be truthful to itself if the nation intends to truly combat small-scale mining.
According to him, about 30% of the people who had gathered at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology on that day either knew persons who were involved in illegal mining or they were themselves directly involved in the activity currently threatening the survival of water bodies in the country.
“Yesterday when the Regional Minister and my son Jinapor came, they told me to read what’s in the speech. This is because they knew I will say something which won’t augur well for them. But the galamsey menace which has become topical across the country, if we pick 300 people and we divide by 3, one per cent of the people gathered here know those who are involved in galamsey.
Thirty per cent of us seated here know people who are engaged in galamsey. We need to speak the truth because if we don’t, we will always be organizing conferences. Those who were involved with the galamsey came to me and told me a chief gave them the land. Any chief who gave lands out for galamsey operations to take place should know that they are also guilty,” the Otumfuo said.
Many have since Otumfuo’s disclosure interpreted it as a confirmation of the alleged culture of silence under the Akufo-Addo government and an attempt by the government to gag the overlord of the Ashanti Kingdom.
But speaking in an interview with Asempa FM monitored by GhanaWeb, the Ashanti Regional Minister emphasized that the alleged attempt to gag Otumfuo was only a suggestion which was to ensure the programme was not overly lengthy due to non-adherence to schedule.
“We went to Otumfuo, we were having a conversation and we suggested that we wanted a brief ceremony, we had to spend not more than an hour and a half for the opening and so the addresses had to be short. It was in a conversation and you have to note that Otumfuo’s speech was prepared by Manhyia itself. It was neither the Regional Minister nor the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources that prepared it,” he said.
Mr Osei Mensah further noted that besides the level of respect he holds for the Asantehene, he as an Ashanti himself will be erring on the side of custom if he had truly tried to gag the King.
“As an Ashanti, can I go and gag the Otumfuo, that would be me looking for trouble. He is somebody I respect a lot and so it was just a passing comment which we all had a good laugh about.”
“Otumfuo had other important things to attend to but out of respect decided to attend to us and later go back to the other agenda. So we were only trying to have a brief event,” he said on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen.