Feature Article of Monday, 2 July 2012
Columnist: Akyeampong, Prince
When I clicked on the Ghanaweb news headlines on June 28, the first thing that caught my attention was the caption about 70 Nigerian ex-militants in police grips. Honestly, I was stunned by this nauseating revelation. A number of questions raced through my mind among which were - why accommodate these ex-militants in this country for purposes of "reintegration?" Is the Nigerian government not responsible for the rehabilitation of these rebels? What kind of deal was struck between these two countries regarding the rehabilitation of these ex-militants? Lastly, what does the Ghana government stand to benefit from any such arrangement or deal? After racking my brain for a while, nothing regarding this issue made any sense.
On the one hand, the government is asking Nigerians who do business in Ghana to deposit $300,000 or face imminent deportation. On the other hand, the government appears to have welcomed Nigerian rebels with open arms and is apparently in the process of assisting them to reintegrate. Are these two scenarios reconcilable? Why try to frustrate law-abiding Nigerian citizens in Ghana who are only trying to earn a living whilst we turn around to hypocritically accommodate the hardened riff-raff of that country. It's very hard to change the disposition of rebels; whatever the Mills-led government is trying to achieve with these dangerous people is inevitably an exercise in futility. By accommodating these rebels, the government is treading on extremely dangerous grounds. Ultimately, they are likely to vanish into thin air only to re-emerge as ruthless armed robbers.
According to the publication, these ex-militias had the temerity to mount road blocks in the area where they resided - if that is not an attribute of armed robbers, then God help us all. Only in Mills' Ghana! Where else would such absurdities be tolerated in the world. Another instance in the publication that I found both puzzling and irritating was the report that the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana rushed to the area to calm tempers and negotiate for the release of his countrymen. If the Nigerian government is that concerned about the fate of their "countrymen," why ship them to Ghana? In any case, the joke is on us for accepting Nigeria's social misfits. I thought the Ghana security agencies had their hands full with increasing reports of armed robbery nationwide. Apparently, President Mills and his lieutenants don't see things that way; why else would these dangerous Nigerians be given a free pass by the government?
As is typical of them, I expect the country's leadership to downplay this disturbing development and subsequently attempt to sweep it under the carpet. What they don't realize is, this modus operandi is likely to catch up with them at some point. They cannot keep on glossing over such disturbing issues as if they had no bearing on the well-being of Ghanaians. When this very issue came up a few years ago, some of us jumped to the President's defense and argued that he was incapable of making such a move. Presently, not only has this government made nonsense of the optimism that some of were filled with initially, their persistent refusal to accept constructive criticism (but rather have it their own way) can be likened to a runaway train that is virtually impossible to stop.
From my perspective, the government should immediately halt whatever dealings they have with these dangerous rebels and send them back to Nigeria without delay before they run amok. Ghana is no dumping grounds for hardened criminals and ex-militias! Ideally, they should be kept under heavy guard before being processed and sent back to their country. Something tells me most of these rebels don't intend to go back to Nigeria; so, if Egya Atta and his lieutenants dilly-dally with this situation, this would enable the militants to buy time and thus, like I indicated earlier, vanish into thin air. This is not an anti-Nigerian article or anything of that nature; in fact, going back to the $300,000 deposit, I still believe that this amount should be reduced to a more affordable rate to enable peaceful law-abiding Nigerians to do business in Ghana. We should not forget that there are Ghanaians who live and work in Nigeria and that is why we have to approach the Nigerian traders' situation diligently.
However, that does not give Nigerians the right to dump their rebellious citizens in our country! Ghanaians, regardless of their political affiliations should learn to come together to resist any attempt to compromise our security and safety. Whether you are an NDC sympathizer or not, you cannot stand idly by whilst the gevernment plays games with your safety. This is essentially about the safety of Ghanaians. In spite of political wranglings and the recent ethnic clashes in Ghana, the situation is still relatively better. The Nigerian government is having to deal with two potentially disastrous situations; the Boko Haram terrorists in the North and the rebels in southern delta area - shipping these militants to Ghana is not the solution to these problems. The Nigerian government should look for better options. We do not want our country to be overrun by lawless Nigerian militants, nor do we want to live in a state of fear and uncertainty. Violence has never been part-and-parcel of our lives, so why import it from Nigeria? These prople have to be sent back to their country without delay before all hell breaks loose! God bless mother Ghana!
Prince Akyeampong, Washington D.C. email:[email protected]