Ignatius’Nat Muotoh views the unfortunate ill-treatment of Nigerians in Ghana as a direct reflection of failure of successive Nigerian governments to record a progressive scorecard and ensure the safety of lives and property of her citizens, wherever they legitimately reside
There goes a popular Igbo proverb that says “when an adult behaves like a mouse, the cat automatically hunts it down for food.”
Nigerians have watched with shock, the xenophobic and discriminatory events unfolding in Ghana, and directed specifically at Nigerian nationals doing legitimate businesses in that country. The Ghanaian officials had recently sealed off the shops belonging to Nigerian traders in Accra for allegedly failing to have the ($1million) one-million-dollar equity stipulated by the Ghana Investment Promotions Council. This amount by any means, is considered unrealistic and unreasonable.
It’s quite important to state right here, that Ghana, a sister country in the West African Sub-region is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also, with its headquarters at Abuja Nigeria.
To so many of us, this unprecedented demand by the Ghana Investment Promotions Council, is simply another way of labelling all Nigerian businessmen and women operating legitimately in that country, ‘persona non grata’ and as such, are requested to eave Ghana.
As much as a nation has the right to do as she pleases within her territories, this unprecedented demand by a Ghanaian government agency, is indicative of a ‘new low’ successive Nigerian governments have plunged the Nigerian state into. It might suffice to state here, that the government of Ghana will never contemplate making such an unreasonable demand from the nationals of say South Africa, Rwanda or Britain who operate their legitimate businesses in Ghana.
Unreasonable and discriminatory as it is, these measures reminds one of the ‘good old days’ for Nigeria.
There was a time, when having a Nigerian passport was the vogue and a matter of pride. I still remember the good old days when as a Nigerian, one can walk into any British High Street Bank in major cities of the United Kingdom, with the Naira and come out 10 minutes later with £0.78p to your N1 (being the exchange rate at that time). I’ll gladly add that one was not even required in those days, to complete any complicated application form that may require your details and that of your extended families for such transaction.
Those were the days when one naira exchanged for five thousand Ghanaian cedis (N1/GH₵5,000). It was also the days when ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ jute bags were carried by Ghanian refugees like bouquet of flowers in all corners of Nigeria. I also remember as a young Nigerian student in England; walking into an exclusive nightclub/restaurant in the company of my fellow students from Kenya, Zambia and Ghana. When asked by the doorman to identify ourselves and where we come from, my friends claimed that they are Nigerian nationals also. Those were the days, when it was a thing of pride to introduce oneself as a Nigerian.
Today, one needs N600 to exchange for a £1 if one is lucky enough to complete such transaction before the Naira depreciates further.
Today, our schools, colleges, and universities have been so bastardised, dilapidated and pulverised that the affluent Nigerian parents, are now choosing to send their children to Ghana for better education when in fact, it was the reverse in the past. So many Nigerians have also, voluntarily relocated to Ghana for a better life. At least there, they’re guaranteed uninterrupted power supply rather than the darkness currently being experienced by Nigerians throughout the whole country.
I’ll imagine that one might ask, “What has all these got to do with this new regulation by Ghana Investment Promotions Council”. Why do I have to remind the people about the good old days as Nigerians.
Of course I will.
Because, a nation is respected by what that nation has achieved, and is doing for her citizens/nationals. Respect for the citizens of other countries by the host nation, is a reflection of the respect such host nation has for foreign nationals residing within their country.
American citizens and those of Great Britain, Canada and Germany are respected by the host nations, because, each of these countries are willing to go to war simply to protect one of their citizens when that individual is maltreated by a host country. They value the lives of their citizens greatly wherever they legally reside.
Of course, we can all criticise the Ghanians for introducing those draconian regulations aimed at excluding Nigerian businesses from their country. However, Nigeria must reflect and ask herself that important Question.
‘When did we as a nation, turn into a mouse, that has become the pray for the cat’?
The answer to this question, lies with the performance of successive Nigerian governments in all indices of development from the early 1980s. One can equally ask, ‘have successive Nigerian governments done so well to earn and maintain the respect from Ghanian government and from other countries’?
In my opinion, I’ll say a ‘no’.
However, some may disagree with my views. Such is the beauty of democracy and the freedom of speech and thought. I have put the blame squarely on the shoulders of past and present Nigerian governments, and the political class dating back to the late 70s. These successive governments have unfortunately, succeeded in turning Nigeria into ‘mouses for the Ghanian cats to prey on’.
No day passes without one reading about an unprecedented event peculiar to Nigeria in terms of its magnitude. Be it in corruption or in security of life and property.
Yesterday, it’s was a snake in some part of the country swallowing a whooping N53 million from a local government treasury, while teachers in that state are owed over six months salaries. Nothing was heard about this mysterious snake or the money it swallowed from the government anymore. It’s business as usual.
And what about the scandal in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) where it was alleged that the Chairman awarded in just seven months a total of 1,922 emergency contracts valued at N1.07trn against its annual budget of N400 billion.
Or what about an uneducated former car wash attendant Raymond Abbas, who goes by an Instagram name of Hushpoppi arrested by Dubai police amid claims of a £350 million cyberscam?
Next is a former NNPC GMD Andrew Yakubu, who claims that a total of $9.7million, £74,000 found in his house are gifts from friends while in the services of his former employer the NNPC. Another case is about the case of ‘the hunter becoming the hunted’. This is about the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu who was arrested on the July 6, 2020 by operatives of the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Police Force, and driven to the Presidential Villa where he was made to answer questions on alleged corruption against him. Such levels of corruption and financial crimes are so unprecedented in countries in other countries but Nigeria. These are the sort of crimes that are the embodiments of a failed state or a Banana Republic.
No wonder the government of Ghana, sees the Nigerian state as a failed state. Certainly not the Giant of Africa of the yesteryears.