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Of Ghana and Nigeria - Xenopobia on the March !

Homo Sapiens
2007-11-17 08:01:53

Between Nigeria And Ghana Pendulum By Dele Momodu, 11.17.2007

This Day, Lagos

It seems some ultra-conservative elements within the socio-political class of Ghana are hell-bent on destroying the cordiality that exists between the close governments and good peoples of Nigeria and Ghana. I had noted the danger signals in my earlier article titled, ?As Nigerians Invade West Africa, A Warning,? which was misconstrued as raising a false alarm by a few misinformed members of the Nigerian community in Ghana.

I had stated clearly like the popular seer, Nostradamus that Nigerian investors in West Africa stood the great risk of throwing away their hard-earned resources in search of green pastures, if care was not taken.

Ironically, the Acting High Commissioner of Nigeria to Ghana, Mr Abdul Salisu ,had practically issued a disclaimer against my Thisday column, which was reproduced in the Ghanaian Times, and told the Ghanaians that what I wrote was entirely my opinion, as if I mentioned him as a co-author. He also granted an interview in a Nigerian-owned business paper published in Ghana and berated my article. The business paper also wrote an editorial in which I was lambasted for daring to suggest that there were strong indications of an impending clampdown on foreign businesses in West Africa, and Ghana in particular. I do not know whose interests they served by attacking a simple patriotic act. Like an orphan, I chose to nurse my pains in silence. The only consolation came from the most unexpected of quarters, The Honourable Minister of Information, Chief John Odey, who despatched a powerful letter of commendation to my Accra office over the article.

But the chicken finally came home to roost on Wednesday, November 14, when the Ghana Union of Traders went on demonstration against what they described as unfair competition from foreign investors.

And who are these so-called foreigners?

They are largely the ubiquitous Chinese and Nigerian adventurers. In fact the Nigerian traders were advised not to open their shops while the protest lasted. The Ghanaian authorities did well by providing adequate security in order to prevent a breakdown of law and order.

The question is, what then is the purpose and direction of ECOWAS, if West African investors are being asked to put down anything between $50,000 and $1 million before they can be allowed to operate in certain investment areas? What has happened to the ECOWAS charter of free movement of peoples and goods?
I watched with incredulity the other day as two ECOWAS parliamentarians spat fire and brimstone on television, and regaled their viewers with tales of woes about the invasion of their country by foreigners, who are taking away the jobs from their people, and criminalising their society, and collapsing their infrastructure.

They went on and on about the need to review the participation of their country in ECOWAS!!
At a time the European Union is expanding its membership, some West Africans are day-dreaming about isolating themselves from the comity of nations, and attempting to do what America, despite her might and economic supremacy, could not achieve. No country in the world today can place itself above all other nations by setting impossible conditions for the admission of investors except it is totally self-reliant. To attempt such hostile posturing is to cut one?s nose to spite one?s face, and an exercise in futility.

No country in Africa is closer to Nigeria than Ghana. All efforts in the past to separate both countries all ended in monumental tragedy. We are like Siamese twins, and when one suffers from diarrhoea , the other feels the pain. It is that critical.

The first crack in our relationship in recent memory was when some Ghanaian film-makers attempted to ban the preponderance of Nigerian films in Ghana. Instead of joining the rest of the world in celebrating Nollywood, and seeking to emulate its triumph against all odds, a few people sought its destruction. These are people who never complained about the invasion of Mexican soaps and American movies. Of course like all bad policies, it fell flat and wonderful Ghanaians in their majority continue to enjoy the irresistible allure of Nigerian movies, while Ghanaian actors are now able to reach greater heights by collaborating with Nigerian actors, producers, promoters and marketers.

Ghanaian music is very popular in Nigeria today. Nigeria?s red carpet reception for the Ghanaian group, VIP, encouraged the talented artistes to set up home in Lagos. They feature regularly in many events, and enjoy massive airplay. Praye, Wutah, Batman, Tic Tac and Ofori Amponsah, Kojo Antwi all enjoy generous popularity for their creativity and some of them have collaborated successfully with the biggest artistes in Nigeria. 
Some years back, it would have been impossible for any Nigerian bank to obtain a licence in Ghana. Our image was then at its lowest ebb, and every bad thing was linked to us, until some of us moved in and began to publish the good news about our people. We showcased many hardworking and legitimate Nigerians, our stars and business icons.

We also reached out to the Ghanaian media and went on air regularly to debunk the usual stereotypes about Nigerians. Slowly but surely, we began to smell like rose.
Today, about six Nigerian banks have substantial investments in Ghana. The former Standard Trust Bank, now UBA, opened the flood-gate, and worked assiduously to disabuse the minds of Ghanaians against Nigerian banks. For the first time, banking operations became liberalised and the ordinary Ghanaian who could not afford the huge sums required for account opening, was now able to stroll into STB to do so with as little as 50,000 Cedis, less than N1, 000. The bank took banking to the door steps of customers and engaged in aggressive marketing of its products. Then Zenith followed. So did Guaranty Trust Bank Amalgamated Bank, which was bought over by Oceanic, and Intercontinental.

Suddenly, the alarm bells began to ring. These Nigerians are coming in droves to take over the Ghanaian economy. They must be stopped in their tracks. And the first victim was First City Monument Bank, led by, Otunba Subomi Balogun, who was stopped from acquiring majority shares in CAL Bank, in which one of Ghana's biggest agencies, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust has substantial interests. It is not clear what has become of the ambitious moves of Bank PHB to also acquire a bank in Ghana either, but there are indications that Nigeria`s insurance octopus, IGI, is swimming into Ghana.

To compound the fear of domination by Nigerians, the Managing Director of Ghana's numero uno brewery, Guinness Ghana, is Seni Adetu, a Nigerian. The General Manager of Coca Cola Ghana is Segun Ogunsanya, a Nigerian. The Managing Director of TOTAL Ghana is Chief Felix Majekodunmi, a Nigerian. The impression is thus created that the Nigerian influence is becoming overbearing, while studiously ignoring the Lebanese domination of key sectors of the economy, and other formidable nationalities who are contributing immensely to the economy of Ghana.

Just as there are many Nigerians operating within the Ghanaian economy, there are many Ghanaians doing very well in Nigeria, and no one has ever campaigned against their influence. Nigeria is largely tolerant of foreigners. Ghanaian investors enjoy the large-heartedness of Nigerians who are not afraid of competition. There is the success story of a quiet Ghanaian entrepreneur, Mr Herbert Osei-Baidoo, a major player in the Nigerian oil sector He was an agent for Petronas, the Malaysian state-oil company, and now the chief executive officer of Shield Petroleum. By far, the most visible Ghanaian investor in Nigeria is Richmond Aggrey, who was the CEO of MTS Wireless Limited, and business associate of such great Nigerians One of Ghana's richest men today, Alhaji Asoma Banda, the shipping magnate and airline owner told me a few years ago, how he made most of his money in Nigeria during our port congestion.

He is friends with Nigeria?s high and mighty.
Many Nigerians and Ghanaians have been joined in marriage for several generations also. They include the former United Nations Secretary- General, Kofi Annan, who took a woman from the famous Alakija family, just as Keem Belo-Osagie attracted Myma Bentsil-Enchill, the Harvard-trained lawyer and managing partner in the chambers of Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie.

We have the example of one of Ghana`s hottest presidential aspirants and former foreign affairs minister, Nana Akufo-Addo, who got his former wife, Remi, from the Fani-Kayode family. Dele Fajemirokun`s wife, Edith is also Ghanaian. But the most famous Ghanaian wife in Nigeria is Princess Abbah Folawiyo, who is married to Baba Adinni Iyanda Folawiyo.
I have taken the pains to illustrate the inseparable ties between Nigeria and Ghana, in order to show the impossibility of frustrating Nigerians out of Ghana, and vice versa, at this late hour.

All the encumbrances being dangerously promoted by some people to intimidate foreigners should be resisted by the great government and the enlightened populace of Ghana. It is a sad retrogression to the dark days, and a reversal of the limited gains of ECOWAS and the African Union, the latter of which President John Agyekum Kufuour is the Chairman. President Kufour has achieved so much in the area of African integration and has attracted more investors and tourists to Ghana than ever. He should not allow anyone to ruin this enviable legacy.

As I was rounding up this article, news reached me that the Ghana Union of Traders has concluded plans to form a special task force, comprising the Ghana police, customs, immigration, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, and Ghanaian traders, to invade premises of foreign companies. No where in Europe or America has such an audacious misadventure been considered despite the millions of Nigerian and Ghanaian illegal immigrants and casual workers in those countries.

God bless Africa.

[This is an authentic posting from Homo Sapiens (Registered User)]
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