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Nigeria-Ghana relationship

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., an Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City, writes on the a newstory recently published by a Nigerian magazine Businessdayonline.com’s  that “30 percent of Ghanaians working in the United States” entered the country on Nigerian passports (See “30% Ghanaians Working in US with Nigerian Passport” Ghanaweb.com 6/7/10),

He opines that the story is the kind of clinically retarded journalism that one wishes that no group of name-worthy media professionals practiced in twenty-first century Africa.

For starters, the afore-referenced publication does not tell its readers precisely how it arrived at the figure of 30-percent of Ghanaians working in the United States on Nigerian passports. For instance, what is the population of Ghanaians resident here in the United States? And what percentage of that number is made up of legal/permanent residents who hold Ghanaian passports, as opposed to those holding Nigerian passports?

Then also, what percentage of Ghanaians hold both Ghanaian and American passports, under Ghana’s dual-citizenship system? And then what percentage holds only American passports? In sum, until all the preceding questions, and some more, are scientifically/objectively answered, there is absolutely no rational way for anybody, group of persons and/or publication to pitch the sort of self-congratulatory subterfuge that the operators of Businessdayonline.com are mischievously trying to do.

We must also remind ourselves that it has been twenty-seven long years since Ghanaian migrants to Nigeria were deliberately and massively deported; and we must also quickly add that there is absolutely no evidence indicating that, indeed, there has in recent years occurred any significant influx of Ghanaians into violence- and crime-prone Nigeria.

Actually, what we Ghanaians have experienced is the exact opposite, with many Ghanaians expressing the sort of “takeover anxiety” that supposedly triggered the massive anti-Ghanaian sentiment that resulted in the swift and summary deportation of an estimated one-million-plus Ghanaian migrants by the Shagari government in 1983.

We must also quickly and candidly point out that it has been exactly forty years since the Busia-led Progress Party (PP) government engineered the equally massive albeit publicly long-signaled and pre-advised deportation of Nigerian “immigrants,” largely unemployed and crime-prone, from Ghana.

For instance, the then-besieged Nigerians of Ibo ethnicity – the direct outcome of the infamous Biafran War – were expressly exempted from the deportation orders, as long as their Ibo ethnic identity could be proved or established. And I personally have several Ibo conjugal relatives who were legally unaffected by the so-called Aliens’ Compliance Order then and have continued to reside and conduct business in Ghana even as I write!

What is also remarkable about both incidents is that while in the case of Nigeria, the widely alleged pretext for deporting Ghanaian residents regarded highly skilled and qualified Ghanaian professionals, largely employed in the education and managerial sectors of the Nigerian economy, allegedly accused of snapping up jobs meant for indigenous Nigerians, in the case of Ghana, the Busia government cited the quality-of-life hazard posed by these immigrants as its raison detre.

In other words, an unacceptably high percentage of Nigerians resident in Ghana was alleged to be engaged in either criminal and/or morally reprehensible activities. In the case of the latter element, the key players were largely women.

What the foregoing means is that even assuming that a whopping 30-percent of Ghanaians living and working in the United States are, indeed, holders of Nigerian passports (the alleged result of unsavorily lax immigration law-enforcement), still, the likelihood of these Ghanaians being engaged in the sort of fraudulent and terrorist activities widely associated with the Nigerian community here in the United States is relatively and statistically insignificant to virtually nonexistent.

And so far, it is interesting to observe, none of the Nigerian citizens apprehended for serious engagement in criminal activity, including Mr. Abdulmutallab, the shoe-bomb terror suspect, have been forensically proven to actually be of indigenous Ghanaian descent or nationality. There is also something criminally laughable about the Nigerian magazine’s assertion that most of the Ghanaians alleged to be holding Nigerian passports only recently reverted back to the use of Ghanaian passports merely because of President Obama’s landmark visit to Ghana, in the wake of the latter’s assumption of the U.S. presidency, last summer.

Needless to say, had the editors of Businessdayonline.com been closely observing the African political scene during the last twenty years, for example, they would have long noticed that Ghanaians had never exhibited so much pride as when Mr. Kofi Annan was elected as the first African Secretary-General of the United Nations.

And for good measure, we both recall that heady moment in history when Mr. Annan, together with the globally celebrated institution that he headed, had his sterling leadership caliber further authenticated by the Swedish Academy with the Nobel Peace Prize, the highest of its kind. In short, wouldn’t the foregoing period have given a far greater cause/motivation for patriotic, albeit hitherto alienated, Ghanaians (at least in the opinion of the Businessdayonline.com operatives) to switch from Nigerian to their original Ghanaian passports?

The fact of the matter is that a greater likelihood exists for many a Nigerian resident of the United States to crave a Ghanaian passport than vice versa. And it would constitute the height of mental retardation for the editors and publisher of Businessdayonline.com not to be aware of the same.

At any rate, in selecting Ghana as an official destination of choice on the African continent, over the more obvious choice of Kenya, his fatherland, America’s Chief-of-State categorically noted that Ghana stood head-and-shoulders above any of the 48, or so, nations constituting the so-called Black Africa in terms of historical achievements and as a sterling beacon of democracy for the entire West-African sub-region.

Ultimately, what we do know and have, in fact, known all along is that in their morbid desperation to revamping their almost irreparably damaged national image, some Nigerian journalists appear to have ill-advisedly elected the proverbial “crabs-in-a-bucket” strategy. If so, then these writers had better stay clear of Ghana or have themselves to blame in the long haul.