Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the immediate past Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is drawing the name of the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, into a needless Nigeria-Ghana conflict.
The man who drove on the back of mother luck to reach the very pinnacle of Nigerian political life, claims that by using Nigeria as an example in his analysis of the African economic malaise in his submission at the Oxford African conference in Britain, the Ghanaian leader had served Nigeria up for the international community to look down on Africa’s most populous nation.
The Chronicle begs to disagree. Nana Akufo-Addo merely used that analogy to drum home the need for African countries to prioritise the use of monetary returns from available natural resources.
Read the lips of the Ghanaian Head of State: “For most of you in the audience today, it is probably before your time, but in the late 1970s up to the mid-1980s, as a result of the discovery of considerably petroleum deposits, Nigeria was booming. It was the place to be,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“We Ghanaians who were going through very difficult times then, would arrive at Heathrow Airport and be herded into a cage to be subjected to the full third degree by immigration, and would look on as our Nigerian cousins would be waved through, with a ‘welcome sir and a welcome madam,” said the Ghanaian President.
He continued: “The newspaper headlines in this country were full of Nigerians leaving or forgetting bundles of money in taxis and telephone booths. Nigerians were the preferred tenants for those with apartments to let. You could stop by any Thomas Cook shop and buy or sell naira, the Nigerian currency. You could do that in New York, and I suspect any other western country city. I do not need to spell out today’s reality to anyone in this audience.”
The Chronicle would like it to be established that the Ghanaian leader meant no harm. He was merely alluding to things that we, as a people, could handle better.
As you read this piece, the Swiss authorities are reported to have repatriated over US$300 million loot Gen. Sani Abacha, the deceased Butcher of Nigeria, deposited in a single bank in Switzerland. Indications are that there are more deposits by Abacha alone.
No one would discount the fact that that huge deposit came from oil revenue. Many other former dictators might have done the same. And, yet, this is a country that is still struggling to provide infrastructure and other relief items for its citizens. It is also a fact that most ordinary Nigerians are poor.
Likewise in Ghana, gold was so abundant that the country was originally named the Gold Coast by the British imperial power that ruled the country for more than a century. Instead of the riches anticipated to fund development projects, gold has become a curse.
As you read this piece, the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is struggling to overcome the activities of illegal miners, who have polluted most water bodies, including major rivers and degraded our fertile lands as well.
The irony is that while these illegal miners destroy the very foundation of the country’s existence mining for gold, the large mass of the Ghanaian people remain poor. The Chronicle would like to believe that the reference to misuse of wealth raised by the Ghanaian leader was meant for the two countries, and as well, the rest of Africa to learn how to maximise incomes from natural resources to improve the quality of life of our people.
The President of Ghana did not intend to denigrate our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Let those who want to use Nana Akufo-Addo’s genuine concerns to execute their selfish political agenda be ware. We have a common interest to use our natural resources to improve the lot of our citizens. At the end of the day, the aim of political leadership is to use the power entrusted on individuals to move their individual countries forward.
As it is at the moment, oil and gold have failed to lift the image of our two countries. Ghana and Nigeria have a common interest. We need to work at it!