Ghana-Nigeria Relations: Xenophobic Signals Being Emitted
We had cause a few weeks ago to comment on the issue of isolated attacks on Nigerian businesses in the country. Although it is not widespread and largely exaggerated, some occurrences have occurred regrettably.
Xenophobia has never been part of our culture and should not be encouraged now. The age-old Ghanaian hospitability is under threat by such isolated cases.
We did call for restraint in such matters even as we support the call by the membership of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) that the law barring foreigners from engaging in retail trading be applied.
In matters that involve Ghana and Nigeria especially, extra caution must be taken considering the implication of things getting out of hand as they could be when there is chaos in the issue under review.
The two countries have a lot of things in common all of which are steeped in history; they are inseparable and must avoid anything that can create an impression of xenophobia.
Information reaching us indicates that some Nigerians have demonstrated in front of the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria over the bad treatment of Nigerians in Ghana. This is not the kind of news President Akufo-Addo and his predecessors would like to hear. They have all worked hard to enhance the bond of friendship existing between the two countries and would be pained to observe such degeneration.
Nigeria and Ghana stand to benefit symbiotically from cooperation in trade and other activities as is already being witnessed. Indeed, these have gone on for close to two hundred years and nothing should be done to scuttle it.
We recall what happened in South Africa when some locals stretched xenophobia beyond sensible limits: the result was fatal. Free trade is the bedrock of capitalism and should be exploited by both countries under the aegis of ECOWAS.
Today there are close to twenty Lagos vehicle termini in Accra and equal number in the commercial capital of Nigeria; this is an indication about the volume of informal trade between the two countries; citizens of which travel to and fro by road and air, economic activities thereof impacting on the lives of the citizens immeasurably.
The impact of prolonging the burgeoning bad blood as recorded in some towns in the country would not inure to the interest of the regional economic bloc, ECOWAS.
What would be the use of the many summits and interactions between heads of state of ECOWAS member countries when xenophobia subtly underlines the relationship?
It would appear that the law which is the source of the extremism being witnessed should be looked into with a view to arriving at something which would serve us positively and in the contrary.
The European Union has a lot of lessons for us. That officialdom has not been able to openly support the extremists in this direction, suggests the challenge it is facing in taking a decision.
The impression that Nigerians are suffering xenophobia in Ghana can be scathing and should not be allowed by all means.
This op-ed is an editorial by Ghanaian news platform, Daily Guide as published in Modern Ghana