By Sunday Oyinloye
One of Nigeria’s finest Journalists is Lasisi Olagunju, a man I love to read all the time. Though he is not a perfect human being, I have never regretted reading any of his articles. The latest of his works which I read was captioned “Why black lives cannot matter”. Before you crucify him for not being a true African, you need to read the piece. In the beautiful article, he asked a very important question; “How much of value do the blacks place on their own lives especially in Africa? He went further by asking another equally important question, “is it the destiny of the black man to suffer and be pitied from eternity to eternity?
Listen to him “Black lives cannot matter abroad when it does not in Africa their homeland. This is what you get when the black man’s is a wasteland of disgraceful leaders. It is only uncooked child that can’t differentiate between a ripening plantain and a rotten one. That is what our leaders are. They feed their people to local and foreign gods of greed the way wanton boys treat grasshoppers and seek respect abroad”
While narrowing down on Nigeria, he raised some posers; “Think of the hundreds that are daily hacked to death in Nigeria’s North East, and the North West and the criminal integration of their killers into the society by a government elected by you. Think of the deliberate helplessness of the state in making Nigerian lives matter. Think of the government man making unearned blood money from tragedies”
This piece is not about Olagunju’s article, but some of the issues he raised as to why the black race is still what it is particularly here in Africa. As he rightly pointed out, some African leaders are simply unfit at least with the way they govern their countries which has led to many African countries and their people losing credibility to the rest of the world. When the head is rotten, the body is bond to have some challenges.
We have seen cruelty of man to man in Africa on a large scale and some unthinkable and undiplomatic steps taken by some governments. A good example is the continuous diplomatic assaults of Nigeria by Ghana, a sister West African country. Not only has the government of Ghana launched diplomatic assaults on Nigeria, its inhuman treatment of Nigerians living in their country in the last one year is simply unacceptable and a slap on the face of a country with the biggest in terms of human and natural resources in Africa . The authorities in Ghana have been persistent in branding Nigerians living in their country as criminals. It got so bad that Nigerian High Commission had to issue a press statement in June 2019 cautioning Ghanaians to stop branding all Nigerians as criminals.
Late last year, Nigerian traders were agitated following attacks by Ghanaian traders who wielded various weapons and descended on them at Circle Tip Toe Lane, near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra. The attack occurred following an attempt by Nigerians traders to reopen their shops which were locked by members of Ghana Union of Traders Association allegedly using the Ghana Police Force. Surprisingly, Ghanaian government did not condemn the actions of its citizens. Multiple diplomatic sources told me at that time that the government of Ghana was in support of the actions of its traders which I disclosed in my story on the unfortunate incident.
Shortly after that, in fact, few days to the end of last year, Ghanaian government violated diplomatic premises of Nigeria breaking into a property that belongs to Nigerian government. Ghana continued the diplomatic assault when few days later, the Nigerian Diplomatic premises was given to a top member of the ruling New Patriotic Party and the Green White Green (Nigeria’s national colours) that adored the building was changed to white. The situation was very tense to the extent that the former Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ambassador Olufemi Michael Abikoye couldn’t enter the premises which belonged to his country. The diplomatic property located at No, 10 Barnes Road, Accra and acquired by Nigeria in 1959 is valued at $5million.
As I reported in my story of the diplomatic assault, the controversial building was to be used by the top Ghanaian politician as collateral for a loan from First Atlantic Bank, a Nigerian Bank in Ghana. While the madness was on and the government of Nigeria was duly informed of the violation of its premises by Ghana, those in authority at home kept quiet as if nothing had happened just as they did to the numerous ill treatments given to Nigerian traders in Ghana and many other Nigerians resident in the country.
The latest diplomatic assault was the demolition of block of flats belonging to Nigerian High Commission in Ghana. The press statement by the government of Ghana on the demolition clearly shows how intelligent or otherwise of those in authority in that country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration claimed that” unidentified individuals” breached the premises of the Nigerian High Commission in Accra and that “investigations are ongoing to unravel the facts of the matter and bring the perpetrators to book”
This to me is a further insult on the sensibility of Nigerians and the international community. Ghanaian government is just being clever by half. Why did I say this? The Police Headquarters is just about five minutes’ drive from the demolished property. The building was also demolished with bulldozer. Could the so-called unidentified individuals have gone to American or Israeli Embassy to demolish their buildings? The latest assault is a reflection of lack of respect for the government and people of Nigeria by the Ghanaian government. This is a country that its economy to a large extent depends on Nigerian banks and the tuition fees of thousands of Nigerian students.
This is also a country whose over a million citizens relocated to Nigeria in the early 80s in search of greener pasture.
Let me share a personal experience. My mother has a small hotel in my town which began operation in 1976. When there was economic crisis in Ghana and Ghanaians flooded Nigeria in search of jobs, out of compassion, my mother employed one of them. The guy was to later bring his girlfriend whom he called his sister and begged for her to also be employed. Out of pity, my mother employed her. Interestingly, few months later, three others joined them bringing their number to five. It was out of compassion that my mother employed them not minding the small size of the hotel. Guess what? The most senior of these Ghanaian workers duped my mother and went away with her money. That was how others left one after the other. Only God knows the number of Nigerians that had the same or similar experience .Even with that sad experience, I still love Ghanaians and have many of them as trusted friends. But the recent events in their country against our government and Nigerians are very worrisome to me.
It pains me so much that the same Ghanaians that Nigerians accommodated and assisted during their economic crisis have turned against their benefactor, destroying the properties of Nigerian government. Can you blame them? There is an adage in Yoruba language which says, a child is called by the name given to him by his parents. If the government of Nigeria has respect for its citizens and is effective, how on earth will a small country like Ghana, whose economic survival depends on Nigeria, have the guts to demolish our property?
When recently they took over Nigeria’s property on Barnes Road, Accra and our government was duly notified by the High Commission in Ghana, Nigerian government was deaf and dumb; little wonder that Ghana has taken latest destructive path.
What do you expect in a continent where people backed by their government behave like common thugs pulling down what belongs to a fellow African country? How will the rest of the world respect a continent where many political leaders have become nuisance to the people that elected them into office and where human lives have no value? I want to ask, what is the future of a continent that has sold its birthright to China? Do you now see the sense in Olagunju’s piece?
To the government of Ghana, I say your latest action is very un-African. You have bitten the finger that once fed you. I believe your sense of history is very shallow. You have forgotten so soon how your men and women were all over Nigeria taking all manners of jobs for survival; you probably have forgotten that there is tomorrow. That the government of the day in Nigeria is docile does not mean your assaults on the government and people of Nigeria will not be revisited someday. Let me say again, it is not your fault, but the leadership of Nigeria which has allowed you to make a mess of my country.