By Ademola Adigun
In 1982, we started shouts of Ghana must go in Nigeria. Nigeria had several Ghanaians working in Nigeria. We had them teaching, had them in menial jobs and such. A massive economic downturn brought about the nationalism in us.
Ghanaians became the target of expulsions of West Africans earning their living in Nigeria. They did not have gangs or commit crimes at the levels for concern. Scarcity of opportunities led to our cry.
Ghana did go. They left and are building their economy and attracting Nigerians they now want gone. They target Nigerian businesses where it can hurt.
South Africans have a history of violence. Violence was used to fight apartheid. In their mind that worked more than sanctions. Asking them to kneel down in gratitude in perpetuity is a big ask. Nigeria played its part.
The violence is not because they hate Nigerians. They might find some intolerable as many people find us, due to our sophistication in criminality, loud living and ostentatiousness, but the reality is that they have economic challenges.
They have a “Ghana must go” situation. How do you solve that?
Reciprocity and expulsion of SA companies will hurt us more than it brings any resolution to the issue. You might think it as only cosmetic. The violence enjoys the support of the people that elected the government. Goverment is responsive mostly to those that elect it. Do not expect more than condemnation.
Am I now suggesting a do nothing approach? No! The government of Nigeria sadly has no markers on South Africa. We are no longer powerful as we were in 1979 or 2004.
The Federal Government should send the Minister of Foreign Affairs and some diplomats to SA. Another should go to AU. Another should head to The Hague. A mix of shaming and advocacy to force actions.
Short term, an evacuation plan to bring those that want to come home temporarily. Also some discussions on how to reduce criminality by Nigerians that seem to exacerbate an economic issue.
Long term, do what we have been asking here. Make Nigeria work and create an environment where more can thrive. So we can call the bluff of our ungrateful neighbors.
Time to also rethink our foreign diplomacy approach.