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Opinions of Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Columnist: Anaba, Bernard

Heads Must Roll Over Nigeria Billboards? Absolute Bullocks!

It's interesting how we always make knee-jerk decisions based on just one-sided views most of the time. And public officials are seldom given the benefit of the doubt even on issues that are out of the normal. The 26th January 2015 Ghanaweb edition headline: "Heads must roll over Niger Billboards in Accra", and the Public Agenda has it "Nigeria will soon annex Ghana if.....". Granted that someone didn't do his or her work right, its okay to ask questions, but to the extent that heads must roll, I think that will seem an abuse of the seriousness of such a call anytime it's made. I say this because the Nigeria political billboards in Ghana is one of those issues that all of us humans, will credit the benefit of doubt by allowing for some level of a doubt in the sphere of discretion that accompanies decision making. Various reasons have been proffered why it is inappropriate to have Nigerian political billboards grazing our sanctimoniously guarded free space, but this is also one of the situations that require strategic thinking and some political juggling.



The arguments, particularly by the respected senior Research Fellow at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), Dr. Vladmir Antwi-Danso and the NPP MP Hon. Kennedy Agyapong on the issue borders on our security and sovereignty. Dr. Antwi-Darko particularly sited the dangers of the shifting the political turf wars from Nigeria to Ghana by these Nigeria politicians and with Boko Haram lurking in the dark. He also talked about the frosty political differences between some Ghana and Nigeria politicians and the likely import of Nigerian politics to Ghana. All these concerns are well founded but I think they should be seen as such and not to be stoked in the alarming way that it has assumed. It should also be noted that, it is not out of place to raise these issues but implausible to be calling for "head roll" in an issue that also presents several strategic opportunities to Accra and Ghana.



Just like noted by Natallie Bennett, the resurgent Green Party leader in the British tabloid, speaking about upholding democratic principles and not curbing peoples' thought, she said "we do not protect freedom by destroying it" In other words you don't throw away the baby with the bath water. For me, it also means 'we don't need to demonise everything in order to remain peaceful and trouble free, lest we will fail to see the evolving global opportunities beckoning in the midst of the good and bad.' This is the essence of the world today; it comes with a mix bag. But so too are the buried opportunities. It is therefore left to the visionaries or the entrepreneurial geniuses who are able to sift through the mess and unearth the gold usually underneath. So is the case for nation states and cities too.



Take the true global cities of the world such as New York, London, Tokyo, Seoul, Moscow, Shanghai etc., all with no less that 10 million people and cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) value raging between US$750-1210 billion, boast of one thing: that their importance and identity transcends the country in which they are situated. They are usually the place where the work of globalisation gets done because of their economy, finance, politics, culture and diversity which are key factors for that kind of status. If Accra ever wants to come a major player in the West African sub-region and beyond, these kind of Nigeria interest in Ghana or for that matter Accra, is what we need to latch-on to become the true regional hub like the Dubai's, Singagore, Panamas and the Miamis of this world. All of them may have different reasons that give them their global or regional appeal and that is certainly the case of seeing an opportunity in the interest from the Nigerian big wits to do business in Ghana. I will side with the Ghana Advertisers Association's call to see the 'glass half full rather than half empty.' Talk of security, its a number one issue that no country should gross over. But that is the reason why the security agencies exist.



Is the world also going to scrap the internet or even regret its existence because the Militant group ISIS and the likes are using it to recruit and propagate hate around the world? If we are ever going to moan about threats to our lives and liberties, we may as well stop drinking water because there is always a security risk to anything we do and in any opportunity that exist to help improve lives.

Now let's look at it this way: The Nigeria community is growing in Ghana and so is the political interest. This also means the political and economic interest of Nigeria in Ghana is bigger than before. Whose advantage, Ghana or Nigeria? Who can say this is bad for Ghana? I would have expected Nigerians whose social-economic fate is going to be decided in Accra to be the ones complaining and not Ghanaians. What we see today as nations states with all the physical boundaries is actually a modern phenomenon and would not remain like these if we care to know. It actually means any Nigerian National Policy towards Ghana will take into consideration the political capital to be gained in doing that. Is this negative as we are told to believe? It will only be negative if we Ghanaians fail to see the opportunity to leverage and don't see the probable strategic and economic gain in this. Of course, there are security dimensions like there will always be dangers to anything. And we don't stop living because of perceive risks, which can be dealt with, anyway.



Yes! We need to be ready security-wise but also there is a regional and economic interest that we should not be killed with knee-jerk approach to all issues.