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Opinions of Friday, 10 January 2014

Columnist: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

Ghana's interest is in United Africa

Jim O'Neill, the former Goldman Sacks banker who coined the term BRIC to denote that Brazil, Russia, India, and China are the next destination of world investments: translation; they are the next tier of economic powers down from the G8, has come up with the next group of economic powers that he called the MINT countries referring to Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey.

Though not all the members of the BRIC countries are doing so marvelous economically, the mere existence of the idea has create a new level of cooperation among these nations. They have started their own "G8" meetings and are working on cooperative measures that will ensure their economic power. The MINT countries will start doing the same too. The more groups of countries carve themselves from the rest and work together to ensure their economic success, the worse off the rest of the nations who are not in any groups are, and the fact that Nigeria is among the MINT does not bode well for Ghana.

Ghana and Nigeria have so much in common. I recently saw a Youtube piece on Ghana-Nigeria Grudge. I thought it was more of a rivalry. We have been friends in many ways and we have been rivals in many ways, especially on the soccer field. We just may be rivals again in Brazil this year. (How I wish it will happen.) If Ghana does not make it out of the group stage and Nigeria, chances are we will all be cheering them. If Ghana makes it out of the group stage and Nigeria doesn't, they will be cheering us. If we both make it out of the group stage, our rivalry will continue. That's how we have been for many years though we have had issues like "Ghana go home" and the "Nigeria go home" that preceded it.

What has always been missing from our relationship with Nigeria is strong trade bond. Among the reasons, I believe is the value of our currencies. Nigerians want dollars, pound sterling, Euro and the likes in trade and we want the same thing. Nigerians, just as Ghana will get more of these currencies trading with US and Europe than us trading with each other. With the MINT lurking in the corner, Nigeria is poised to form economic bonds with these countries than with Ghana and it does not bode well for Ghana.

The fact is that the bond that we have that could have been exploited for the benefit of both countries weren't exploited to the detriment of Ghana. What the BRIC countries have in common is large population. What does the MINT countries have in common; the next level of large population. Ghana will never have large population like these countries. Our hope is to play on the advantages that we can offer Nigerians and exploit them.

Before I make my next point, I will like to make it clear that I do not subscribe to the ECOWAS becoming a country. I know many people will see it as along the lines of what I am suggesting here, but I believe that if ECOWAS become one country, we give other clusters of nations to form their own countries and we cede many opportunities to other countries. I will write one more paragraph on this to give an example.

Strait of Gibraltar is a nine mile channel that separates Africa from Europe. Many people continue to explore design possibilities to build a bridge across this channel. Africa as one country offers a stronger financial back bone to explore the possibilities. If we section ourselves from the rest of Africa, the northern African cluster of nations will have a big green light to form their own nation. Other groups like eastern African cluster of nations who are already planning the same unity as the ECOWAS is planning. We will thereby lose all the opportunities that trade with Europe through the Strait of Gibraltar will bring and cede it to Morocco or the northern cluster of nations that may form one country. One AFRICA is the future.

Let me get back to Ghana and Nigeria. Imagine that Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria form one country. This is seemingly similar to the ECOWAS, but in the scenario that I have envisioned, these countries will form the beginning of the future of united Africa. In my vision, I have called these countries UPAS for United Progressive African States so I will continue to call them UPAS in this article. UPAS will become United Pan African States once majority of the African counties join in.

If these four counties form one country, the UPAS, rather than just Nigeria will become part of the "MINT" countries. It will give "Nigeria" more power and give all four countries economic fortitude. This economic should be of interest to Nigeria as well as Ghana and the other two countries.

Ghana and Nigeria are English speaking countries. Togo and Benin may have reservations because of the language, but if UPAS becomes a bi-lingual country and Ghana and Nigeria help the French speaking countries to provide strong English training for them as well as require Ghanaians and Nigerians to learn French, the idea may be easier to sell. I would say make a concession and make French the stronger language, but English is becoming the world's "official" language and we will not be doing anybody a favor not to offer them the opportunity to learn it.

If this can be done, and the Francophone countries are at ease with it, it won't take much to sell the idea to Ivory Coast. If Ivory Coast Joins in, Liberia, which is already English speaking will find it in their interest to join in: AND SO STARTS THE UNITED AFRICA and the economic deliverance for the future of Ghana. I must say that if all these countries that I have mentioned join UPAS, I don't think it will take too much for Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and even Niger to join in. After that, if things go well, it will be easier to bring the rest of Africa together.

Let me say that former President Kuffour could have exploited his friendship with former President Obasanjo to sow the seed for such a unity if not go to the extent of even starting the idea if he had the foresight. Both of them would have gone down well in history.

How about African Union? After over 60 years, I think it is a waste of my time to even talk about them. I will leave them alone to do what they do best; keep peace in Africa and elsewhere.

God, I don't feel like reading this over. I hope it makes sense to the reader.

Tony Pobee-Mensah