Recently in Accra, Ghana, an anonymous Ghanaian businessman reportedly led some armed men into the premises of the Nigerian Embassy and bulldozed some structures under construction claiming that the Nigerian property encroached on their ancestral land. As the ‘bandits’ were pulling down the block of apartments on the property in the night it was reported that some policemen were sighted near-by but they did nothing to restrain the gang from defacing Nigeria and her sovereignty.
And days after the ugly incident in the Ghanaian capital city a video went viral online depicting a violent demonstration of some frustrated Nigerians inside the Nigerian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. They were seen destroying whatever they could lay their hands on. The dozens of young men were protesting the intimidation and harassment they were daily subjected to by the immigration personnel of their host country.
Following the death of a Nigerian, days prior, who jumped down accidentally from a multiple storey building in the Indonesian capital city while dogding arrest or deportation or both folks yonder became livid with rage. The angry boys took out their anger and frustration on the embassy for the callous indifference or nonchalant attitude often displayed by the embassy staff led by the Ambassador at hours of need.
Majority of Nigerians living and labouring in many countries are always on their own. Many had been killed and many had had their properties confiscated or destroyed by rampaging youths with no embassy official coming to their aid. The Nigerian representatives abroad are known notoriously for their complacence or aloofness whenever our nationals are attacked or victimized by their hosts.
From South Africa to Ghana, China to Indonesia the story is the same. Everyone is on their own! No one is watching your back and none is ready to intervene whenever issues crop up or trouble brews. The foreign missions care for themselves and no one else.
When South Africans exibited their xenophobic inclinations by attacking Nigerians and other blacks in ‘Madiba-land’ killing some and destroying properties worth billions of Naira the Buhari-led administration reacted tepidly nay, timidly. And when some concerned Nigerians back home decided to hit back in reciprocal vengeace the government in Nigeria dutifully unleashed security forces to contain the situation.
The Ghanaians that destroyed our embassy structure in Accra knew that the Nigerian government was incapable of doing much in retaliation aside blowing hot and cold. They would not have dared do the same thing to the American, French, Chinese or Russian embassies. The giant of Africa is being kicked around and ridiculed by ‘midgets’!
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We take pride in calling ourselves ‘big brother’ in Africa and our country as the ‘giant’ of Africa but others see us otherwise. Some see us derisively as a giant of a country with a feet of clay and others see us as big-for-nothing country confused from Abuja to Lagos in every facet of our national life.
Nigeria ought to be greatness defined and redefined given the natural resources Providence blessed the nation with. But invidious rapacious leadership at the centre has robbed the country and her people of any greatness since independence in 1960. Corruption and indiscipline has conspired to make things worse.
Beyond the measured diplomatic action and official reactions the major problem here is that the Nigerian foreign policy is vacuous and diffident. The Minister himself is a ‘dove’ who thrives on mediocrity! Yet we need a ‘hawk’ as the head of the foreign ministry in the mould of Mike Pompeo of the US, Jean-Yves Le Drian of France and Sergey Lavrov of Russia.
Whenever America is involved in any dipomatic spat with Russia or China smart sanctions are imposed to drive home a point. The authorities on the receiving end tend to invoke the principle of reciprocity. As a serious nation you must learn not only how to bark but how to bite to defend your interests and send no-nonsense messages across.
Decades ago (in the late 70s and early 80s) when the revolutionary inimitable Jerry Rawlings was dictatorially repositioning Ghana many Ghanaians found economic refuge in Nigeria. Some were selling bread as others manned the gates or did other menial jobs for survival in many Nigerian cities. Today as President Buhari is making Nigeria less secure, poorer and jobless Ghana is working, attracting more and more Nigerians as economic refugees!
Even the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, recently acknowledged the attractiveness of Ghana to many Nigerian economic criminals when he said recently that many Nigerian looters were now hiding in Ghana. Perhaps sooner than later we would be hearing about ‘Naija-must-go’ instead of ‘Ghana-must-go’!
The ultimate question remains: what really is the truth in this diplomatic matter? Did the Nigerian embassy in Ghana encroach on the land of the aggressors leading them to taking violently the law into their hands? But even at that we had thought that Ghana is a lawful entity inhabited by law-abiding individuals. So Ghanaians like Nigerians have some lawless elements in their midst?
President Nana Akufo-Addo, a gentleman and democrat, must do the diplomatic needful to restore what was destroyed and forestall a future recurrence. Dismantling Nigeria must have a limit.
Author: SOC Okenwa…