Ghana, shade us, we are your politically chaotic neighbours

The perennial friendly sparring between Ghana and Nigeria has resurfaced in the wake of the just-concluded elections in Ghana. Reported widely by local and foreign observers as a successful election, and Ghana celebrated as, “an example of a well-functioning democracy amid politically chaotic neighbours.” It appears that Ghana has one more win based purely on function and not vibes and In Shaa Allah.

For years, Nigeria’s tiny but mighty neighbour has touted its relatively better functioning government. Ghana’s police officers are known to serve the people where Nigeria’s extort and harasses its young demography. Its better education system has seen an influx of Nigerians annually sponging off it through education tourism necessitated by the fledgeling education sector in Nigeria. Its stable electricity and better road networks are a thing of pride where Nigeria’s remains a source of shame for the ‘Giant of Africa‘. And now Ghana can tout its laurel as an exemplary democracy unlike its ‘chaotic neighbour’ – Nigeria.

Nigeria on the other hand only has its rich culture to show off – its internationally acclaimed Jollof rice and music. Perhaps it is time we begin to learn from Ghana, starting with the conduct of elections.

Just last week, Nigeria conducted by-elections in 11 States across the federation, it ended with low voter turn out due to voter apathy in 8 of the 11 states, and of course, violence. The chaos barely roused the nation because it was on a scale that can be said to be minimal compared to what Nigerians have become acquainted with at every presidential election since the current democratic dispensation began in 1999.

Now that we have collected international embarrassment as Ghana continues to solidify its institutions while we tout our vibes and In Shaa Allah, maybe we can learn the following:

  1. Internationally acclaimed Jollof does not make a good democracy profile: We can have the best Jollof rice in the world – and even that is in dispute because Senegal refuses to bow to pressure from above and let us have this one win – and still collect international disgrace for our dysfunctional government. The onus remains on us to prevail on the system to function better. We can’t afford to embrace apathy, we must continue to push for better. It is after all “a marathon, not a sprint.”
  1. We can’t sing better road networks into existence: Or a better education system. A useful parallel to bring up is that we can also not ‘pray’ our way into a more functional government. While many Ghanaians respond to queries by their Nigerian neighbours on’ “how they did it,” with “it is God,” the truth remains that without strong institutions that make voters trust in the process enough to turnout, the ‘beacon of African democracy’ won’t be where it is. Voter apathy in Nigeria is why few people came out for the recently conducted by-elections.
  1. We need to channel all that vibe into pushing for Nigeria to take its place as the ‘African Giant’ it was once proclaimed to be: if vibes could move mountains Nigerians will shift planet earth right out of orbit with the ease of brushing a speck off one’s arm. But vibes cannot do more than make for a great time unless properly channelled. We will be better served if we take a leaf out of Ghana’s book of success and focus our politics on issues rather than the ethnic and religious affiliation that have so far defined our democracy. This may not be easy, but if we can survive Nigeria’s dysfunctional system that is designed to kill us, surely we can achieve the difficult task of healing our historical wounds and coming together to work on the dream of a country that works for everyone.

In the meantime, Ghana will continue to gloat as it stacks win after win, while we dance to our top tier music, as we bump from one pothole to another on our way to a home that has no electricity that we did not generate by ourselves. 

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