Ghana-Nigeria relations: History mustn’t repeat itself
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun—The Holy Bible. To those who don’t study history, they are certainly doomed to repeat it.
Ghana is aiming at repeating a significant history that happened in 1969 under the regime of Kofi Abrefa Busia where there was an expulsion of foreigners who were mainly Nigerians estimated to be two and a half million from Ghana.
In the past weeks, life in Ghana for Nigerians has been one with anxiety and uncertainty as Ghanaians are holding Nigerians responsible for rape, kidnapping, defrauding and armed robbery that have been happening lately and are asking for the expulsion of all Nigerians from the country.
Most Ghanaians took onto their social media platforms precisely twitter and Instagram with the hashtag, “#NigeriaMustGo” calling on the government to send all Nigerians back to their country as they fear their (Nigerians) continuous stay in the country will threaten their security. Headlines in relation to “#NigeriaMustGo” became the talk of all the media houses in the country.
However, there were some prominent Ghanaians who also took to their social media platforms to condemn the act of Ghanaians against Nigerians on the case of Suame Magazine spare parts retailers in the Ashanti Region. This was confirmed by the President of All Nigerians Congress, Accra Chapter; Amb. Oloye Oyeyemi Fatuyi in a post he shared on his Facebook page appreciating the actor John Dumelo; the Musician M.anifest, a member of Parliament and Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament, Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, and a leading member of the New Patriotic Party, Mr. Okyere Darko on the roles they are playing to help calm the feud.
The Minister of Information, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah on Thursday, 20th of June 2019 in an interview on one of the local channels assured Ghanaians that the crime risk of the nation has not changed and that the Ghanaian government and the Nigerian High Commission have met and are putting in place measures to ensure that Nigerians in the country are legal residents and have government protection.
Nigerians in Ghana on the other end got agitated by them being referred to as criminals as some of them are living and doing their businesses in Ghana legitimately. In response to the stereotypical and derogative tag, they also resorted to using the same medium used by Ghanaians to hit back at them and redeem themselves.
In the course of the vitriol, a video emerged of a Nigerian Professor whom Ghanaians perceived as “inciting Nigerians against Ghanaians” on the basis of comparing the Ghanaian Education system and the Nigerian Education system; trashing the Ghanaian system and emphasizing the contribution Nigerians are making to the economic growth of Ghana. The professor, Augustine Uzoma Nwagbara who lectured at the faculty of English at the University of Education Winneba in the Central Region was on Sabbatical with the school.
The bone of contention now is what will happen to the Ghana-Nigeria bilateral relations which took Jerry John Rawlings and Ibrahim Babangida to restore after the expulsions in 1969 and 1983 from Ghana and Nigeria respectively?
Ghana and Nigeria had been trading for more than 50 years before independence. Immigrants were coming into Ghana to trade but the absence of a common language between Ghana and Nigeria made the colonial masters introduce the English Language as a common language between the two countries making communication and trade easier.
After independence, Africa Contemporary Record states that more foreigners trooped into Ghana due to the encouragement of freedom of movement propagated by the pre-colonial masters and Nkrumah’s regime. Other historical documents also revealed that more immigrants trooped in as a result of increased economic activity in Ghana. The then government led by Kofi Abrefa Busia passed the Aliens Compliance Order to reduce the upsurge in crime, large immigrant population and immigrants’ domination of certain aspects of the Ghanaian economy.
Some scholars are of the view that the manner the expulsion was carried out was harsh and had inimical effects on the country. It was recorded that the country faced a serious economic setback as the expellees were the major contributors to the economy. Smuggling was said to be the handiwork of immigrants; but it was revealed that it never lessened after the expulsion because Ghanaians were heavily involved in it. It has also been showed that the expulsion was to pave way for government to clear the slums and develop those areas.
Now, there are laws governing the movement of nationals from one country to the other. Ghana and Nigeria are both members of ECOWAS, UN, OAU and Commonwealth. They have so much in common they can take advantage of to become better without prejudice. Governments of Ghana and Nigeria should educate their citizens not necessarily the elite, more importantly, the ordinary citizens of the economic, social and political relationships between these two countries and their importance and the effects any expulsion will have on them.
In every group there is always a Judas who betrays and that does not mean the whole group is a set of betrayers. Just as there are good Nigerians living their lives doing good and commendable things, so there are bad ones who delight in causing pain to people without looking at the larger innocent ones their actions affect. It is a global issue therefore, passing derogatory comments on a whole nation with about 200 million people because of the actions a few bad ones will be unfair to the nation. In the words of the minister of information, “we should report an individual who offends to the police so the individual be dealt with and not relate the crime to a typical ethnic group or people or nationality.
“For this end Africa needs a new type of citizen, a dedicated, modest, honest and informed man. A man who submerges self in service to the nation and mankind. A man who abhors greed and detests vanity. A new type of man whose humility is his strength and whose integrity is his greatness.” Let’s come together as siblings, as a continent and actualise the dreams of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, in that memorable quote.
• Alagbe, a graduate of Ghana Institute of Journalism, Accra, wrote from Koforidua, Eastern Ghana.
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