I enjoy hiplife music so much and find the issues they raise very interesting. Recently, the artists have stepped up their creativity as a result of the fierce competition they face on the continent especially from their Nigerian counterparts. The improved creativity is not limited to music. Other forms of entertainment including movies and stand-up comedy are being improved creatively.
So it was no surprise when I heard Sidney's recent song - who born dog. Though very entertaining, it highlights an issue which is slowly affecting the relations between Ghana and Nigeria. As a Ghanaian living abroad I am constantly confronted by the Ghanaian-Nigerian love hate relationship. It is simple; we argue amongst ourselves saying we are better than the other or over the origin of a word, phrase or food but our similarities outweigh our differences by far. The amazing thing about this relationship is that when we are confronted by other nationalities we never hesitate to stand united.
So what issue is being highlighted by this rather entertaining song? Since the Mills administration took over in 2009, the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated. Ghana's development depends on the development of the region. And if the region is to develop, we need Nigeria otherwise all efforts will be wasted. It surprises me that with many trade experts in the NDC party such as Dr. Kwesi Botchway, the Mills administration is ignoring the growing tensions between these two countries.
So what is the source of these tensions? I am as clueless as you are. I have no inside information but as an outsider a few observations make it obvious that there is a strain on the Ghana-Nigeria relationship. The observations I speak of are as follows: during the Kufuor administration, Ghanaians went to bed without worrying about a shortage of fuel the next day because former president Kufuor had an arrangement with Nigeria for the supply of oil. Whatever agreement it was, I wonder why the current administration could not follow it through.
As far as I am aware (which may be inaccurate), the current administration is in negotiations with Equatorial Guinea for the supply of oil. I appreciate the fact that the current administration is at liberty to enter into negotiations with anyone. But the one question on my mind is – why abandon a strategic partner such as Nigeria for Equatorial Guinea? It could be because of policy differences or what have you but we need Nigeria so whatever it was a compromise should have been reached.
A more recent observation is the frustration of the telecommunication provider, Glo, by the government. Glo is a Nigerian company that has been investing in Ghana for the last three years. The company invested greatly in the country's premier league and had plans to increase competition in the telecommunications industry as well as create employment opportunities for the youth. Unfortunately, the current administration has frustrated Glo's efforts to do business in Ghana causing the Nigerian telecommunications company to issue threats to pull out of Ghana. As a result of this, a top level Nigerian delegation led by its Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry arrived in Ghana on Monday, 24 May 2010 to work out an amicable solution. Their efforts were fruitless.
So how is this related to the greater interest of Ghana? Well, trade between countries is necessary for economic development and stability. The economies of most developed countries rely on trade. According to many economists and economic institutions, if Africa is to have strong economies then trade needs to be encouraged. The Kufuor administration knowing this focussed on trade and ensured that the relationship between Ghana and Nigeria was strong. We saw the results of their effort in the growth of ECOWAS. West Africans are able to move about freely without any restriction in the ECOWAS area. There is also a substantial amount of trade in the region as well as investment e.g. many Nigerian businesses established branches in Ghana with the aim of investing and creating employment in Ghana.
There is no doubt that Ghana is a mover and shaker in ECOWAS but so is Nigeria. Ghana definitely needs Nigeria to make ECOWAS a powerful trading bloc. Some may ask why. Well, Ghana on its own at the international negotiating table will never get the best deal. On the hand a regional bloc such as ECOWAS will pool together resources which will in effect give it some leverage at the international negotiating table. Whatever agreement ECOWAS reaches with the international community will be beneficial to its members in the long run. That is the main benefit of ECOWAS.
So whatever is going on between the governments of Ghana and Nigeria, the Mills administration should bear in mind that Ghana needs Nigeria to make ECOWAS work.
Written and Edited by:
Kow A. Essuman Esq.
LL.B. Hons (Westminster), PgDip (BPP), LL.M. (Cornell)
Barrister-at-Law (Lincoln's Inn) (N.P.)
Attorney and Counselor-at-Law (New York)
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