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Opinions of Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Ambassador Obanikuro Should Stop Meddling!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I have been following the short and recent career of Mr. Musiliu Obanikuro, the Nigerian high commissioner to Ghana, in the country and cannot vouch that the man has half-conducted himself as professionally as the Ghanaian media whose practitioners he has gone on record as having rather imperiously accused of “exhibiting unprofessional behavior” (Ghanaian Statesman 3/24/09).

First of all, for a senior diplomat, the man is rather too loud, to speak much less of the patently obnoxious. He also behaves as if he were a lone ranger, or the only foreign diplomat representing any country in Ghana. I firmly believe, however, that such obnoxiousness primarily stems from our faulty, albeit proverbial, Ghanaian hospitality.

Secondly, I find it to be deeply offensive that Mr. Obanikuro, a failed gubernatorial candidate for Lagos State and a former senator, would rather have the Ghanaian media sit duck, or passively by, while undesirable criminal elements of his country swamp our, otherwise, staid and placid nation and recklessly threaten to lay the very moral and cultural fabric of our society to waste.

And just what is Mr. Obanikuro’s rationale for having our media turn a blind eye to Nigerian organized-crime kingpins recklessly operating in the sovereign territorial space of Ghana, but the vacuous and purely self-serving fact of a handful of Nigerian-owned, or heavily patronized, banks having set up store in our country? And on the latter score, perhaps, somebody like me ought to boldly and plainly inform the stentorian high commissioner that Nigerian businesses operating in Ghana are no charitable institutions, and that their obviously overriding motive is the proverbial capitalist profit margin.

But even were these Nigerian-controlled and/or –operated banking institutions, indeed, charitable organizations, would such fact, in of itself, imply, at least in the apparently flamboyant imagination of Mr. Obanikuro, that Ghanaians promptly surrender our birthright and dignity on the sheer grounds of a supposedly storied Nigerian magnanimity?

Also, the curious notion that, somehow, constructively probing minds among our media practitioners are single-mindedly dead-set against forensic veracity, and would rather stampede commissions of enquiry into issuing prejudicial reports against Nigerian entrepreneurs in Ghana, is unpardonably insulting. Maybe that is more in keeping with Nigerian political and judicial culture; and so, perhaps, Mr. Obanikuro had better be reminded that Ghanaians have been at the very forefront of the crucial business of justice and fair-play, however perfectly or imperfectly.

The grim fact is that, contrary to what his evidently hyperbolical sense of proportion dictates, by and large, Nigerians do not have a very good reputation outside their own country. Indeed, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the former American military’s Joint-Chiefs-of-Staff chairman, Gen. Colin Luther Powell, was routinely reported to be claiming that the spate of abject corruption and scam-artistry in Nigeria was only bested by Pakistan. And what is more, here in the United States, the curiously ironic legend has it that the most ardent of Nigerian criminals are almost invariably hi-tech savvy and Ivy League-educated, with advanced degrees from such globally recognized institutions as Yale, Harvard and Columbia universities. And the latter may partly explain the resounding “success” of the so-called 4-1-9 scheme.

Then we have also had morally debilitating and emotionally mortifying cases of Nigerian gangster-pimps prowling our secondary educational institutions and aggressively recruiting teenage Ghanaian women to engage in filmic sexual orgies or pornography. The most recent of the latter nature vividly remembered by this writer occurred at Mpraeso Secondary School (MPASS). And so rather than self-righteously blame a supposed dearth of professionalism among members of the Ghanaian media, Mr. Obanikuro ought to be holding forth with the leaders of the Nigerian immigrant communities, with the prime objective of finding effective and lasting solutions to the glaringly disproportionate acts of criminality committed and perpetrated against innocent and responsible Ghanaians by some of his immigrant countrymen and women.

To be certain, quite a remarkable number of American-resident Nigerians with whom this writer has interacted have, invariably, stated their serious intention of permanently relocating to Ghana for two significant reasons, namely, a peaceful and relatively crime-free environment, and a conducive economic milieu. Could Mr. Obanikuro readily and confidently impugn the authenticity and integrity of such visceral observations?

In any case, exactly what does the Nigerian high commissioner mean when he asserts that “Bashing Nigerians on radio and the newspapers today has become the order of the day. This must be addressed quickly or [it] would turn into something horrible”?

The reader can bet his proverbial “bottom-dollar” that if I were in charge of Ghana’s foreign – or external – affairs ministry, Mr. Obanikuro would already be packing up his baggage and luggage to return to Bataan, as it were.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of twenty books, including “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/, 2008). E-mail: ###