BEVERLY HILLS, September 02, (THEWILL) – The Nigeria – Ghana relations, over the years, have always been characterised by mutual suspicion, envy and mutual jealousy despite the cordial relations existing between the two West African neighbours at the governmental level. The current hostilities between the two countries should therefore be situated against this age-long background.
This, notwithstanding, Nigeria, many times, had gone out of her way in playing the ‘Big Brother’ to Ghana with loads of assistance in the spirit of good neighbourliness and in line with the promotion of the ideals of the Economic Community of West African States, the sub-regional bloc of which the two countries are leading members.
It is therefore no surprise that many Nigerians always see the small nation of 31 million people as the preferred destination in the sub-region for holidays, inter- regional trade and, more recently, educational pursuit for young Nigerians.
No fewer that two million Nigerians live in Ghana now and not less than five Nigerian banks operate fully in the country along with other investments by Nigerians in different sectors of the Ghanaian economy, especially in the real estate sector.
Nigeria is, also, the big market for most manufacturing companies in Ghana because of the huge population here. Some companies in Nigeria even had to relocate to Ghana because of stable electricity to produce and bring the end products back to the big market in Nigeria for sale.
Such is the cordial relations between Nigeria and Ghana despite the historic mutual suspicion and age-long rivalry. The fact that both countries also share a similar colonial history, being former British colonies, further helped in fostering the relationship, especially with English as the official language of the two countries.
Unfortunately and regrettably, Nigeria, for years struggled with political instability, massive corruption and infrastructure decay despite the abundant human and natural resources the country is blessed with.
Ghana, on the other hand, was able to command good respect in the comity of nations, thereby becoming the beautiful bride, because of good leadership and prudent management of the little resources the country has, even before oil was discovered.
The level of direct foreign investments Ghana was able to attract and is still attracting because of the positive outlook has been unprecedented as the country was seen as the “oasis of peace” in the midst of political turbulence, especially in the years following the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra-Leone.
However, the recent frosty relations between the two countries, especially the official response to allegations of ill treatment of Nigerians in Ghana, among others, really calls for urgent attention.
Apparently revelling in the euphoria of the warm embrace of the western world for its relative peace and political stability, Ghana, the beautiful bride of not only the western powers but the Asian Tigers as well, is also talking tough, moreso, with the new economic confidence that comes with the discovery of oil.
From all indications, Ghana now appears ready to call the bluff of Nigeria, especially on issues bordering on national interest, and might no longer be willing to dance to the tune of the ‘Big Brother’, at will, again.
Apparently determined to play the tit-for-tat game with Nigeria, the official response of the Ghanaian Minister of Information, Kojo Nkrumah, to the allegations raised by his Nigerian counterpart, Lai Mohammed, was instructive enough.
Nkrumah betrayed the extreme nationalistic tendency of the average Ghanaian when he maintained that not even the ECOWAS protocol on free migration and trade would override the national laws of his country.
The Ghanaian Minister also maintained that Nigeria had no right to complain about the one million dollar requirement for foreigners, including Nigerians, willing to do retail business in his country.
Nkrumah said the Nigerian border at Seme-Krake had been shut since last August to the country’s West African neighbours despite several trips by Ghanaian officials to plea for the passage of over 200 trucks of goods heading for Nigeria from Ghana trapped at the border.
However his defence of his government’s non-involvement in the pulling down of a section of the building housing the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana was not convincing enough.
The action, even as it was allegedly done by a private individual, was a tacit declaration of war against Nigeria, using a commercial lease agreement that went awry as a mere excuse.
THEWILL condemns the uncontrollable display of emotions and show of extreme nationalism on both sides and urge a quick resolution of the misunderstanding before it escalates into a full-blown trade war.
We also want to advise that issues concerning the interests of two sovereign nations and their people should not be turned into propaganda. Such issues are better handled by experienced diplomats instead of the exchange of allegations and counter-allegations between two Ministers of Information with little or no knowledge of diplomacy.
We however commend the initiative of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, for rising to the occasion, with his planned visit to Ghana, Wednesday, to explore parliamentary diplomacy to douse the rising tension.
THEWILL also calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly convene a meeting with his Ghanaian counterpart, President Nana Akuffo-Ado, to settle, amicably, once and for all, the growing hostilities between the two countries.