Opinions Wed, 23 Sep 2020

Is Ghana really a neighbour to Nigeria?

Often there are right calls from around the globe to both Ghana and Nigeria to strengthen their relations in the spirit of brotherliness because we are ‘neighbors’. I fined that call rather hypocritical if Togo, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire and Benin are left out in such demands.

In fact before this calls, many Ghanaians were collaborating with our Nigerian counterparts in the areas of music, poetry, trade, research papers, banking with filmmakers’ kriss-crossing both countries for business and knowledge sharing.

I am told that in economics, Nigeria’s population plays to the advantage of Ghana when it comes to export. Similarly the relative peace and the undeniable hospitality of Ghanaians has seen growing numbers of Nigerians fraternizing with the indigenous people of Ghana without any difficulty.

Probably the reason for Ghana and Nigeria to see each other’s as sisters, brothers or in-laws dates back to time immemorial as a result of the English language bequeathed to us by our colonial masters else I don’t see why Burkina Faso who shares borders with us in Upper East and West are hardly referred to as friends.

For instance Togo sharing same markets with Ghana at ‘Ashigeme’ and ‘Cinkasse’ in Volta, North East and Upper East Regions do not have the same attention for greater collaboration even in terms of trade.

Though Cote d'Ivoire a stone throw to Bono Ahafo Region in Ghana shares common names of people and places just like in Upper East and Volta regions, scarcely do we hear of efforts at strengthening their co-existence.

I am therefore disappointed in the action of most Nigerians in Ghana with their complete disregard to our national laws but quick to refer to international laws to tell us how legally they are to plied their trades in Ghana without any restrictions.

This same people have played the ostrich by pretending to have forgotten their deliberate closure of borders with Benin which affected most Ghanaian entrepreneurs’ especially pharmaceuticals beverages and other food stuffs.

I remember very well that no amount of negotiation initiated by Ghana changed the minds of authorities in Nigeria to rescind decision resulting to goods on transit destroyed. Not even the same Ghanaian delegations like what they dispatched to Ghana recently to intercede on behalf of their citizens could get them allow at least goods that were already at the border enter their country resonated to them.

In view of the above, I think I have a reason to state categorically that Ghana is not a neighbor to Nigeria at least as far as geography is concerned.

Actually what has made me gone mad on this issue of Ghana-Nigeria relations is a release from Nigeria to warn Ghana to be careful on how we treat their people and their subsequent call on presidents of Ghana at Jubilee house on the same matter.

In fact, their delegations to Jubilee House should have been told in plain words that activities of their citizens here is uncalled for.

Again their earlier call for our media not to attribute the name of their country to its nationals who involve in crimes here was a misplaced one. Both countries needed opportunity to work as partners in terms of foreign policy and to avoid charting paths that would make this two African giants enemies hence my honest condemnation of their constant call for possible retaliation on Ghanaians though they have not broken any laws of their country.

I insist that between Nigeria and Ghana there is Benin and Togo so it cannot be correct that Ghana is a neighbor to Nigeria as people want us to believe. It’s only our mutual respect that can change the narrative but if the other party is not ready for win-win approach lets consolidate learning of English and French to foster relationship with our real neighbors Burkina, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire.

In fact my silence in anticipation to hear from geographers telling both sides that they are not neighbors is not yielding any result as clearly Nigeria is taken advantage of this saying to bully Ghana which I think must seize now.

That notwithstanding the recent debate on how we can prevent coronavirus through partnership to me was another hypocritical move if we could do that without recourse to Togo, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Benin.

This is because I have a strong belief that no amount of meeting between Ghana and Nigerian can help deal with the disease or any border issue through partnership if those middle countries are left out.
Columnist: David Fianko-Okyere
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