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A Different World Totally

Thursday, September 12, 2019

FLASH BACK!! When Nigerians were asked to leave Ghana

“It has come to the notice of the Government that several aliens, both Africans and non-Africans in Ghana, do not possess the requisite residence permits in conformity with the laws of Ghana. There are others, too, who are engaging in business of all kinds contrary to the term of their visiting permits. The Government has accordingly directed that all aliens in the first category, that is those without residence permits, should leave Ghana within fourteen days that is not later than December 2, 1969. Those in the second category should obey strictly the term of their entry permits, and if these have expired they should leave Ghana forthwith. The Ministry of Interior has been directed to comb the country thoroughly for defaulting aliens and aliens arrested for contravening these orders will be dealt with accord.”

The above order was issued by the government of Ghana on 19 November, 1969, on aliens without valid residence permit, to quit the country within fourteen days, that is, latest by 2 December, 1969.

The Quit Order was promulgated by the Kofi Busia’s government on a Tuesday, 18 November, 1969.

The expulsion order was not without exemption. The order added that: “Special cases of persons who though Aliens were born in Ghana and have lived in the country all their lives and lost contact with their countries of origin as well as persons who though not born but have lived in Ghana many years will be considered each on its merits provided they are of good behaviour and are gainfully employed.”

The 1969 expulsion of Nigerians from Ghana left an indelible mark on both the host state (Ghana) and Nigeria.

As far back as the early twentieth century, Nigerians were well-established in Ghana and had contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of Ghana before and after independence.

A paper titled ‘Expulsion of Nigerian Immigrant Community from Ghana in 1969: Causes and Impact by AREMU, Johnson Olaosebikan (Ph.D) and AJAYI, Adeyinka Theresa(Ph.D) of the Department Of History And International Studies, said as at 1931, Nigerians constituted the largest single group of immigrants resident in Ghana. 

More Nigerians migrated to the country following news that their fellow countrymen in the country were thriving as traders, cocoa farmers, farm labourers and farm contractors, factory workers as well as menial workers in construction sites.

As a result of this, the population of Nigerians in Ghana increased geometrically from 57,400 in 1931 to 191,802 in 1960.

After the massive increase of aliens in the country (Nigeria and other countries), Ghanaian citizens began to mount pressures on government for their expulsion from the country.

The Ghanaians asked the government for increased participation of native peoples in the economic life of their country as it seemed the aliens had taken over.

Nigerians, were quickly accused of posing a threat to the economic survival of the country as the Ghanaians were soon out of job.

Asides the economically-instigated agitations for the expulsion of aliens from Ghana, there were also cases of officially-inspired deportation of individual Nigerians from Ghana between 1957 and 1961 for political reason under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah.

On 23 August, 1957, the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) government passed the Deportation Act which made it legal for the government to expel all foreigners who were deemed “a threat to the nation”.

This marked the beginning of mass expulsion from the country.

Two decades later, under the government of Shehu Shagari, Nigeria retaliated by deporting over 1 million African immigrants in 1983, most of who were Ghanaians.

“If they don’t leave they should be arrested and tried and sent back to their homes. Illegal immigrants, in fact, under normal circumstances, should not be given any notice whatsoever,” Shagari said in a statement.  

The deportations were said to be part of many calculated political moves by Shagari to divert the growing criticism on Nigeria’s failing economy at the time. He blamed Ghanaians for stealing Nigerian jobs.

Almost in similar fashion, there have been recent calls by South African citizens to expel Nigerians living in the country. Reasons are also employment related as Nigerians have been accused of taking most jobs in the country.

The incident is said to be a major reason for the xenophobic attacks that has occurred in the country since 2008 claiming no fewer than 400 foreign lives.

Yesterday, no fewer than 178 out of 313 Nigerians arrived the Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos in the first wave of evacuations in the aftermath of the xenophobic attacks.

The country is expecting to receive more Nigerians in coming days.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academics, Kaduna State University (KASU), Abdullahi Ashafa,on Wednesday, urged the Nigerian government to shift its foreign Policy from African centred to citizens centred.

 Ashafa, a professor of Diplomatic and Military History speaking during a Discourse on “Xenophobia in South Africa: Its Origins, Trends and Remedies”, organized by the History Department of KASU said, “We are living in past glories by telling South Africans our roles in their liberation struggle, which they have all forgotten and treated as event of the past.

“Our country has retrogressed and became irrelevant because we have been surpassed by countries that once looked up to Nigeria as a destination for better living.

“We have been sleeping for too long, governed by corrupt, gluttonous, predatory and irresponsible clique of elite.

“We have allowed our corruption, terrorism, banditry, lawlessness and laziness, bad roads, non-functional institutions and infrastructure to define us, which allowed the world to treat us as bunch of criminals.

 “If anything, the South African events should wake us up as Nigerians once woke up Ghana in the 1980s, with the popular slogan ‘Ghana Must GO’.

“Today, Ghana is the envy of not only Nigerians but the rest of African countries,” Ashafa said.