Without any shred of exaggeration, one can make a watertight case about millions of Ghanaians’ inclinations toward corrupt practices like many other African nations, such as the self-imposed sub-regional “big brother” Nigeria.
It’s also true that Ghanaians struggle to obey their own laws; they can’t maintain and keep their environment clean; they have “over-spiritualization culture” but the same time they are relatively peace-loving people, among others.
Equally indisputable is fact that no open-minded individual can make a compelling argument establishing a credible conclusion that an average Ghanaian has xenophobic predispositions. In fact, an unemotional review of Ghanaian society since time immemorial, will definitely reveal that Ghanaians in general do not have xenophobic DNA in them. Indeed, the often-repeated story about genuine Ghanaian hospitality goes beyond the African continent.
Therefore, it’s disingenuous for the Nigerian high commissioner to Ghana, Hon. Michael Olufemi Abikoye to suggest that somehow the nationwide expression of moral outrage by Ghanaians toward recorded cases of kidnapping and armed robbery consistently involving some Nigerians living in Ghana is a manifestation of “xenophobic tendencies.”
No sir, Honourable High Commissioner Abikoye, Ghanaians do not have any blood of “xenophobic tendencies” running through their veins. Rather, their pronouncements are not only natural expression of fear and disgust, but also it’s a show of a sense of betrayal and the troubling pattern of high crimes being perpetrated by some Nigeria nationals who have been warmly given a welcome mat into Ghanaian communities.
According to the Nigerian senior high-ranking government representative in Ghana, “The excellent relations that subsist between Nigeria and Ghana …under His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari and his brother, President Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo, can never be allowed to be jeopardised by xenophobic tendencies over such intents” (thestatesmanonline, June 18, 2018).
Surely, the “excellent relations” between President Akufo-Addo and his Nigerian counterpart belong in different league; and, it will endure both on personal levels and also in their respective nations’ interests. But, in the same vein, we ought to point out that the cordial rapport between the two sister nations’ leaders aside, Ghanaians—as would Nigerians—have every right to express their anger in light of serious crimes mainly committed by some foreign elements of Nigerian extraction, and this has nothing to do with xenophobic leanings.
The point is, where does the “xenophobic tendencies” on the part of Ghanaians come from? It is quite obvious the Nigerian High Commissioner is confused regarding the etymological predicates of “xenophobic” and “tendencies.” And, to play a devil’s advocate here, even if Ghanaians’ outrage amounts to “xenophobic tendencies” as we speak, then they may have a “legitimate basis” for portraying cold shoulders toward Nigerians living in Ghana in that it is extremely difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff in this scenario.
It is worth mentioning that there are countless foreign nationals from the West African sub-region besides Nigerians, peacefully living in Ghana and no Ghanaian bothers them. Now, the intelligent question to ask is: why are the Nigerians mostly the target of Ghanaians’ indignation or “xenophobic tendencies” if the latter observation has any merit?
It’s sickening development, especially, when the truth is staring us right in the face, but either out of political correctness and in this particular instance, because of the so-called regional integration paradigm, including the “monster” of ECOWAS, our regional policymakers and some political leaders, it seems, are scared to confront the intricacies associated with interstates political/economic unions. Perhaps it will serve the best interest of the West African regional leaders—more so, the Nigerians to consult the European Union for a good guide.
Let us keep in mind the number one priority or the centerpiece of any multinational union is the internal security wellbeing of each member state. This is because if instability exists or a member nation experiences some form of turmoil, its adverse socioeconomic impact will reverberate throughout the entire union. Admittedly, all countries have domestic challenges or crimes involving their own native citizens, and so they can’t afford to allow foreigners to come in and compound the problems for them
The criminal behaviors of some of our Nigerian brothers in Ghana are despicable; and, Ghanaians’ angry reactions are normal and even less than proportionate, given the frequency of the Nigerians’ crimes involvement in their host nation. This is about one’s country law and order, national security, and its long-term survivability. Contemporary regional integration doesn’t necessarily mean some citizens of a member country must be allowed to abuse the laws of others.
No doubt, the Nigerian government and its people will never sit by and let some Ghanaians or any other nationals come to Nigeria and undermine the country’s internal security via various forms of crimes. It is through this prism that Ambassador Abikoye and others must contextualize Ghanaians’ feelings of revulsion against Nigerians in Ghana at the moment.
Merely dismissing Ghanaians’ reactions to these frightening crimes authentically linked to some Nigerians in Ghana as xenophobic is an exercise based on ultra-nationalistic propensities and gross misunderstanding of international laws governing the concept of territorial sovereignty of nation-states. That is to say, the purported “erudite” visiting Nigerian professor—then at the University of Education, Winneba—Augustine Nwagbara infamously seen on the YouTube in which he was incoherently fussing about what he considered to be unfair treatment of some of his compatriots’ criminal infractions in Ghana squarely falls into the aforesaid exercise.
Unsurprisingly, his colleagues back in Nigeria in a sheer display of jingoism not only see him (Mr. Nwagbara) as a hero for standing up for all Nigerians at the hands of “abusive Ghanaians” but also they regard him as an “erudite” professor; but, clearly, his rambling argument caught on the social media runs counter to a brainy and well-informed professor of applied linguistics. Interestingly, the wrongly-named “erudite” professor Nwagbara asserts that Nigeria’s quality of education is way ahead of Ghana’s without any empirical evidence as top-notched college professors all over the world do.
By the way, let me share with the “erudite” professor Augustine Nwagbara the following well-researched information concerning the state of Nigerian politics and its education. In his New York Times bestseller book “Political Order and Political Decay” Francis Fukuyama, one of the leading American political scientists/researchers, observes that “Radical Islamist groups, having been pushed out of South Asia and the Middle East, have been setting up shop in countries with weak governments such as Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Somalia.
The reason that this part of the world is so much poorer in terms of income, health, education…can be traced directly to its lack of strong government institutions” (p.4). Believe this, Ghana’s education system—with all its foibles—is not mentioned in the book. What does it tell you, the honourable “erudite” professor of applied linguistics, Mr. Nwagbara? Let us focus on the realities of the crime issues involving some Nigerians in Ghana and spare us your disjointed rigmaroles.
Bernard Asubonteng is a US-based sociopolitical analyst.
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