Opinion: To Ghanaians, we are ‘stiupid Nigeriens’, not brothers

by Adesola Tomilade

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I think we should stop deceiving ourselves. We should have by now know that we are NOT brothers with Ghana. Ghana isn’t even our next door neighbour. We don’t share any boundary with them at all.

Last week, a 19-year-old Nigerian student who was studying at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, was brutally murdered by persons believed to have links with his Ghanaian roommate, Abotsi Gweus, alias Enay.

Godwin Chukwudi Ayogu who was in 300 level when he was killed was stabbed to death by his attackers, who tied his hands and feet, disemboweled him and later dropped his corpse in front of his hostel in the seaside Ghanaian university.

Godwin had returned to school for the second semester in September last year with $5,000 meant for his tuition and sundry fees. But the money was allegedly collected from him for “safe keeping” by Gweus, a 400-level music student who refused to
give the money back to him.

When Gweus was asked by the police why he refused to hand the money over to Ayogu since he said he was only holding it for “safe keeping”, he reportedly answered that the money was no longer enough to pay the 100 per cent school fees required by the university since, according to him, Godwin had earlier collected $600 from the $5,000, leaving a balance of N4,400, “which is not enough to pay his school fees”.

Of course, that was a lie, because according to the Vice Chancellor of the University, the total amount payable by 300 level Economics students for the session amounted to exactly $4,400. Gweus reportedly changed his story, claiming that Godwin later removed the whole money from where he had kept it and that this was why the people he referred to as “they” killed him.

Gweus is a Ghanaian. He was arrested but later released by the Ghanaian Police. He is roaming free in his home country, without any justice done, despite the fact that he had a hand in that boy’s death. Forget it, Justice might not be done.

According to Channel’s report, Godwin’s case is not the latest in such incident; “four other Nigerians have also been killed in varying circumstances in different institutions in Ghana.” But even that is as far as we know. Who really knows how many Nigerians die in Ghana every week without any justice done? Those are the kinds of maltreatment Nigerians receive from “our neighbours, our brothers.”

I was watching Abike Dabiri in the news talking about these incidents concerning the unjust deaths of Nigerians in diaspora, and the need for the government to employ every diplomatic avenue to bring the prepetrators to book and prevent such from becomming the recurring fate of Nigerians studying abroad. She claimed the embassy has done its best in the situation, and… “Ghanaian authorities have done their best ensuring justice is done.” That is not true though, but that is actually not what I want to talk about. What she said later is what I want to take on. She continued that “We are Neighbours with Ghana and we are brothers…”

I think we should stop deceiving ourselves. We should have by now know that we are NOT brothers with Ghana. Ghana isn’t even our next door neighbour. We don’t share any boundary with them at all. There are two soverign countries to the west between Nigeria and Ghana; Republic of Benin, our immediate neighbour and whom we are very closely related, and Togo, the country that shares boundary with Ghana, and whom they are very closely related. Nigeria does not share any traditional similarity with Ghana. Even the Ghanaian Hausas speak a completely unrelated type of Hausa language to that of the Nigerian Hausas.

So now, we leave Republic of Benin and Togo alone and we go and start calling far away Ghana our neighbours? They don’t even consider us as a brother, simple. If they go to the media and start all those political and media stunts calling Nigeria their big brother, that’s where it ends, and that’s actually what it is; Political stunts for the media. In real life, in their actions and dealings with Nigeria, they don’t exhibit the attitudes of brotherhood. In fact, let me put it as it is: Ghanaians HATE Nigerians, and they don’t hide it, even if they don’t openly exhibit it. Maybe that hatred is borne out of the Ghana Must Go saga, I don’t know. But what I know from first-hand experience is that they hate us. And now, they are telling us in many subtle ways and manners. So we should stop deceiving ourselves and start facing realities.

Let me tell you my first hand experience. When I was a 200 level French student at the University of Ibadan, I decided to travel through the Francophone Western African countries from the Republic of Benin, down to Togo, all the way to Cote d’ivoire. Of course, from Togo, I would have to pass through Ghana. As you all know, one does not need to have a passport before one could travel trough the ECOWAS countries. When you get to the borders, you can pay a specified fee before you pass. Then, it was 500 CFA between the Republic of Benin and the Togolese Border. But as a student, I had an International student Identity Card, and so I really did not have to pay the 500 CFA even though I did not have a passport. All I had to do was show my International Students’ Identity card, and I’d be allowed to pass through without any trouble.

This way, I got to Togo where I spent 2 weeks at the University of Lome. Then I prepared to continue my journey to Cote d’Ivoire through Ghana, from the Aflawo border. I got to the Asighame / Aflawo border with confidence and I was about to cross the border post to Ghana when a Ghanian Border Patrolman stopped me. He asked me to produce my  passport. I replied that I didn’t have one, but that I was an international student, and I had an International Identity card that covered me. So he asked me to produce the identity card and I obeyed. Throughout this time, we were conversing in French. I produced the ID card, and I showed him.

Immediately he saw the ID card, which shows that I was from the university of Ibadan, Nigeria, his countenance changed, and he violently flunged it back at me! He switched to the Ghanaian heavily accented English and started:

“My friend! Yiu better go baek from where yiu ere caming from if yiu like yuarself!” He shouted and started walking away from me as he continued  “All these stiupid Nigeriens! Yiu think yiu ken always haeve yia waiys around here? Yiu haed better go end pay 3 Ghc (the restructured Ghanaian Cedis) if yiu want to paess!”

I didn’t understand the sudden change in attitude. The hatred was written all over his face, and I couldn’t just get it. So I picked up my ID card and tried showing him again that it was an INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ID Card.  Futile attempt. He pushed me away violently. Yes, he pushed me physically and told me not to approach him again. He just left me there. Some of his colleagues were looking at us from afar, one of them called him to asked what was happening. I didn’t know what he went to tell them, but they all burst out laughing and looking at my direction. It was as ridiculous as well as embarrassing.

Well, I gathered myself and, not allowing that to get the better of me, I went through the post where I would pay the 3 Ghc. I paid and I crossed over. I knew other students that passed freely though without being harassed, simply because they aren’t Nigerians.

You might say, well, that was just an isolated case right? I mean, it doesn’t mean all Ghanaians are like that. I agree. At least, I went through Ghana without any incident apart from that at the border. I also won’t like to see myself as a sensitive racist. Aren’t there many Nigerians living in Ghana? Incidents like mine, Godwin’s and those other four students don’t always happen. That might be true. But consider this: Have we ever heard that a Ghanaian was killed in Nigeria? Have we ever heard that a Nigerian was killed in Benin Republic or in Togo? I haven’t heard about such cases. So how come we hear these ‘isolated’ cases from our supposed ‘brother’ Ghana? I believe you understand what I mean.

A cousin told me an experience about how they had to protest and line up to block the same Aflawo border when one of his collegues whom they were travelling together was beaten up, punched several times in the face and dragged by his troussers, about to be taken into ‘custody.’ His sins? He was innocently taking pictures with his camera at the border during the border clearance. He didn’t know it was not allowed, and nobody approached them to tell them about this restriction. So he was beaten up by two Ghanaian border patrolmen. His traveling colleagues didn’t know on time. It was when they realised what had happened to one of them that they took action, demanding that the two patrolmen be produced. When the Ghanaian border authorities saw trouble brewing and realised they were in soup, they quickly tried to apologize. Now assume he was travelling alone…

I like to think Ghanaians are generally nice people. They can be hospitable, sure! But they are not brothers to Nigerians. And as I said earlier, they don’t hide it. They make indiscriminate business policies particularly targeted at Nigerias, policies we don’t make here. In 2012, their Government was forced to rescinded a policy compelling Nigerian businessmen and traders to pay a minimum capital of 300,000 dollars or have their businesses closed. That policy also mandated the Nigerian businessmen and traders to employ at least five Ghanaians as condition to operate their offices and shops. How does that translate in brotherly relations?

Godwin is dead, the other Nigerian youths are dead. We can’t bring them back. But they died in Ghana, they were killed in Ghana. No reliable information has yet told us that their assailants have been brought to justice.  Those ones are still walking freely in their fatherland, Ghana. If nothing from the part of Nigeria is done about that injustice, rest, assured that they might walk freely forever. And trust me, there would be more to come; more insults and embarrassment like the one I faced, more assault like the one my cousin’s colleague faced. Afterall, it is their land, and we are just “these stiupid Nigeriens,” We are not their brothers.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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