If there is an eloquent testimony to the lack of self-love amongst African countries as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent upsurge in racial tension, especially in America, given the gruesome murder of George Floyd by a policeman, the demolition of part of Nigerian High Commission in Accra, Ghana, on June 19 speaks to that.
The founding fathers of both countries’ independence that was based on the brotherly principle of Pan-Africanism must be turning in their graves at this sordid display of diplomatic hostility by Ghana towards Nigeria.
Although the building was destroyed by an enraged Ghanaian, it is sad that the Ghanaian police said to be close by did nothing to stop the intruders.
Not only is Nigeria and Ghana two of the most prominent countries on the continent, they share the most sub-regional affinity given their historical antecedents. Even though the post-independence
socio-economic relations between the two countries have been an undulating curve of bilateral no-love-lost relationship given their seeming rivalries in socio-economic sectors and sports, especially football, no one expects that Ghana in this time and age would throw all caution to the wind and violate Article 22 of the Vienna
Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
That convention that Ghana is signatory to regards a foreign mission’s property in any country as inviolable and must not be entered by anyone without permission.
It then smacks of pure lack of diplomatic etiquette and protocol that the Ghanaian authorities seemingly allowed the violation to take place, only to come up with some puerile explanations and buck-passing when the deed had been done.
Even if the Ghanaian authorities allege that there were issues over the expiration of the lease, there are diplomatic guidelines that they ought to have followed in amicably handling the issue.
In diplomatic circles, what Ghana did was pure affront to a Nigerian territory and we consider that very politically and economically unreasonable at a time Africa is struggling for continental cohesion in the face of economic and socio-political hostilities from other countries, as some global events are reopening slavery and colonisation wounds afresh.
While we acknowledge that in the past, both Nigerian and Ghanaian
governments have had issues over foreign and domestic policies that had raised tensions between the two countries, we expect that relationship between the two countries as sub-regional partners ought to get progressively better rather than what obtains now.
For the avoidance of doubt, for some years now, Ghana has been harassing Nigerian residents and businesses with some draconian laws and policies, leading to constant protests by the Nigerian community in Ghana.
The Nigerian government has had to pacify its citizens literally baying for blood in retaliation.
Ghana must realise that Nigeria is merely playing the big brother it has always played to all African countries and would not tolerate actions that violate both diplomatic and its citizens’ human rights.
At a time the African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are struggling for better continental and sub-regional socio-economic cooperation to lift the continent out of poverty and dependence on aids and grants from other continents through institutions like the African Development Bank (AfDB) and ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), an action like this seems retrogressive.
If indeed the allegation about the expired lease for the building under reference is true, we condemn such negligence by those whose official negligence resulted in such breach and insist that all official measures must be adopted by Nigeria to punish such official ineptitude.
However, the Ghanaian authority’s apology seems a perfunctory diplomatic afterthought that tastes very sour in the mouth.
The Ghanaian government must be made to understand the full bilateral and multilateral imports of not only this brazen act of provocation, it must realise that Nigeria has been taking notes of their recalcitrant actions towards Nigerians resident in the country and doing legitimate businesses.
That Ghana’s president has apologised over the matter and promised that his country would rebuild the destroyed building is noted.
The point is; Nigeria does not support any citizen to violate laws of a host country and if they do, must be made to face the laws of the land. However, acts of impunity like in the past might not always be treated with a slap on the wrist.