ABOUT a fortnight ago, we received the shocking news that the Nigerian embassy staff buildings in Accra were levelled to the ground by a Ghanaian businessman, claiming that the edifice had been erected on his own land. He brought papers claiming ownership of the land. Apparently, our legation could not show proof of ownership — a big embarrassment.
Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama issued a press statement saying that the demolition was the handiwork of criminals. Many Nigerians have been understandably outraged.
Many have called for retaliation in kind. However, the Presidency tersely maintains that they would not be starting a “street fight” with Ghana. I commend them for that maturity.
Nigeria and Ghana, are, in a manner of speaking, twins. Ghana is the older of the two, having gotten its independence from Britain in March 1957 while we got ours three years later, in October 1960. It is one of the quirks of nature that the elder of most twins tends to be the smaller in build. Therein lies the seeds of sibling rivalry.
The roots of our rivalry go back to colonial times.
The British imperialists recruited mercenaries from Nigeria to help them “pacify” the unruly principalities of the Gold Coast, including the capture and public execution of the brave female warlord Yaa Asantewaa.
Ghana had all the gold. Nigeria was a vast backwater. The British were prepared to train some of the sons and daughters of the Akan royalty to become subaltern administrators. They built top-ranking schools such as Achimota, Wesley Girls, Adisadel and Mfantsipim.
Their Nigerian counterparts such as Kings College, Queen’s, Hope Wadell, Christ the King Onitsha, Dennis Memorial, Igbobi, and Barewa look like provincial trade schools.
The Gold Coast was well ahead of Nigeria in most indices of development. It had probably the best civil service on the continent. In 1945, a British government impoverished by war, resorted to borrowing from the Ghanaian treasury.
At independence, Ghana was more prosperous than South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.
Interestingly, Nigeria played an important role in the career and destiny of Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah was inspired by the example of Nnamdi Azikiwe to pursue the so-called Golden Fleece in the United States. Nkrumah spent several months with his cousin in Lagos before gathering enough money to sail to the United States. He attended the same Lincoln University in Pennsylvania that Zik had attended a decade earlier.
Kwame Nkrumah was,without a doubt, the greatest pan-Africanist of his generation. His place in history is assured. At independence, Accra became the Mecca of pan-Africanists the world over. They included such personalities as George Padmore, W. E. B. Dubois, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, Kamuzu Banda, Robert Mugabe and many others.
As many of my gentle readers would recall, Nkrumah was the leader of the radical Casablanca Group who wanted immediate unification of the continent. Other members of this group included Sekou Toure of Guinea, Modibbo Keita of Mali and King Hassan of Morocco. The conservative Monrovia Group who advocated a more gradualist approach was led by Nigeria, Ethiopia, Liberia, Sierra Leone andTunisia.
Many suspected Nkrumah to be a man of overweening continental ambition. His assault on multi-party democracy in Ghana, muzzling of the press and independent criticism, removal of a sitting Chief Justice in the person of Sir Arku Korsah,incarceration of opposition leaders such as J. B. Danquah, and the creeping cult of personality, showed all the symptoms of a rising despot.
There was no love lost between Kwame Nkrumah and our first and only Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
Nigeria’s opposition leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a close friend of the Ghanaian leader. They were both socialists. Several of Awo’s lieutenants were trained at Ghana’s Ideological Institute in Winneba. The Nigerian government pointed accusing fingers at Ghana for an alleged plot to violently overthrow Balewa’s democratically elected government. In 1963, Awolowo was tried for treason and imprisoned for 10 years.
When Sir Abubakar was assassinated in the first military putsch led by Majors Chukwuma Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Nkrumah coldly declared that our Prime Minister was a “victim of forces he did not understand”. When he himself was deposed in a military coup barely a month later, we would suppose that he was victim of forces that he presumably well understood.
Over succeeding decades, there has been a love-hate relationship between our two countries. Some of our elder military officers were trained at the Ghanaian Military Academy at Teshie. They include Yakubu Gowon, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Benjamin Adekunle and Olusegun Obasanjo. It was in Teshie that the Nigerians forged life-long bonds with the likes of Akwasi Afrifa and Ignatius Kutu Acheampong.
In 1969, the Oxford-educated Ghanaian Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia, summarily expelled thousands of Nigerians from his country. In 1983, the civilian administration of Shehu Shagari retaliated later by expelling two million Ghanaians from our country. The Ghanaians were right to see it as the darkest spot in the collective humiliation as a people. These sad events have cast a shadow over our relations for decades.
We have made stupendous fortunes from oil, which we have proceeded to fritter away in corruption and graft. Nigeria has come to the aid of Ghana in so many ways. We have given loans and outright grants and offered subsidised petroleum and gas. But they also know that we are a failed state, where nothing really works. We have nothing to show that the Ghanaians can learn from.
Of course, there have been intermarriages. Nigerian music and films are all the rage in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast and beyond. We have naturalised Ghanaians that have made their mark in our country. A notable example being the late Professor Kwaku Adadevoh who became a Professor of Medicine and distinguished Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos. His daughter Ameyo Adadevoh became a heroine of contemporary Nigeria by giving her life to protect the nation from the scourge of Ebola.
Ghana and Nigeria are the two most important partners in ECOWAS.
Nigerians are often left feeling that Ghana outsmarts them at every turn. A good example is Accra winning the right to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area. In my honest opinion, our government acted stupidly and deserved to lose.
Over the last decade, several foreign companies have re-located to Ghana. They have continued to target all their products to the Nigerian market. Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have gone behind our back to sign an interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU. The recent closure of our borders has drawn the ire of some Western powers.
In December 2019, Ghana indicated that it would consider joining the new Eco currency that is being brokered by France to replace the West African CFA. Nigerians regard it as a stab on the back. Nigerian traders are having a hard time in Ghana after the government brought a law requiring them to deposit US$300,000 in the bank before they could start any business. Many shops owned by Nigerians have been closed down and their owners hounded and humiliated.
Last year, more than 50,000 Fulani herdsmen and their cattle turned in Ghana, armed to the teeth with AK47s and other sophisticated weapons. Ghanaian President Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo gave an executive order to chase them out of his country. He gave Ghanaians the right to kill and barbecue any cow that trespasses on their farmland, with a stiff warning to the effect that, “Ghana is not Nigeria”.
The violence, lawlessness and anomie that characterise our country today place us on ground zero in the prestige of nations. I am the last to defend, echoing Chinua Achebe, any Nigerian who goes abroad and defecates on another man’s compound. We must therefore do all it takes to redeem our image if we are to win the respect of Ghana and indeed the rest of the world.
Such a gross violation of the Vienna Conventions on the sanctity of diplomatic legations cannot stand. Ghana must be made to pay. But we must do it in accordance with due process and in conformity with the spirit of the laws. I suspect it to be a high-stakes diplomatic game to trigger a showdown between our two countries so as to orchestrate the collapse of our much-cherished ECOWAS.
Ours has been the most successful regional economic community on the continent, for which Nigeria underwrites 75 percent of the operating budget. The world powers covet the vast mineral resources of our region and they want to unleash chaos so that we would become a dead carcass like the DRC. We must not fall for the bait.
When you pull off your clothes to have a wash by the riverside after a hard day’s work on the farm, you do not give a chase to the madman who picks up your clothes and flees.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
Nigeria Records 603 New COVID-19 Cases, Total Now 28,167
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 603 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 28,167… Read Full Story
COVID-19: Why govs, others are more at risk —Medical experts
MEDICAL experts have spoken on factors that are capable of putting governors and other key political leaders on the first line of the coronavirus pandemic in more danger. They, however, dispelled as untrue the notion that the incidence of COVID-19 is higher among political office holders or health workers as many people assume… Read Full Story
UN Suspends Air Services As Terrorists Attack Chopper In Borno
The United Nations (UN) on Saturday announced a suspension of humanitarian air services in the northeast following the latest attack on one of its helicopters in Borno… Read Full Story
Buhari Appoints Pam As Christian Pilgrims Commission Executive Secretary
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Rev Yakubu Pam as the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC)… Read Full Story
Appeal Court Upholds Yahaya Bello’s Election As Kogi Governor
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division on Saturday affirmed the election of Yahaya Bello as the duly elected governor of Kogi State… Read Full Story
MFM To Begin Another 30 Days Prayer Retreat
The General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM), Dr Daniel Olukoya, has directed that members to extend the ongoing 30 Days Prayer Retreat which marks third session… Read Full Story
109,823 N-Power Beneficiaries Now Business Owners ― Minister
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, says no fewer than 109,823 beneficiaries of the N-Power Programme are now business owners… Read Full Story
Who Flies APC Flag In Ondo?
EXCEPT the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) handles the primary election or selection of its candidate for the Ondo State governorship election carefully, the party in the state may be heading towards another round of crisis similar to the one that engulfed it in Edo State recently which may cause it to… Read Full Story
No Difference Between PDP, APC —Olateru-Olagbegi
Martins Kunle Olateru-Olagbegi is an aspirant of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State. He speaks with HAKEEM GBADAMOSI on the preparedness of the party… Read Full Story
VOICE OF COURAGE: E No Finish?
The controlling leadership of ACN got a casual job in 2015 and took it like a mega contract. They did more than a month’s job for a day’s pay. They pawned everything in exchange for nothing. All core values were thrown away. The ancient landmarks of the fathers were set aside. Many of the icons in the land were… Read Full Story
GIBBERS: Buhari Isn’t Judiciary’s Messiah (1)
In the last 12 years, salaries of Nigerian judges have not been reviewed. In a review of the development of inflation rates in Nigeria between 1979 and 2019, by Worlddata,the average inflation rate was calculated at 19.2 per cent. Now, hold your breath. The report added “overall, the price increase was 80,304.39 per cent… Read Full Story
Threatened Cooperation! Cooperative Societies In The Cloud Of COVID-19
ALL over the world, especially in Third World economies, one of the platforms through which peoples’ common business dreams and financial needs are crytalised is the cooperative society. A cooperative society is simply a voluntary association of individuals who have come together to pursue their economic goals… Read Full Story
COVID-19: The Church And The New Order
The Church is just one of the institutions that have been caught in the heat of the coronavirus pandemic following the ban on public gatherings for about three months as a way of controlling the spread of the virus by the federal and state governments… Read Full Story
40 Years After, Ayinla Omowura Remembered With Album
As part of the activities to mark the 40th year anniversary of the exit of Apala icon, Waheed Ayinla popular as Ayinla Omowura, an album entitled ‘Anigilaje has been released in his honour… Read Full Story