Nigerians living in Ghana have cried out over the harsh treatment they were being subjected to in that country, and urged leaders of both nations to intervene to ensure justice and fairness.
Mr Kaycee Ogbonna, President, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NiDO), Ghana chapter, voiced the concerns in an interview with the BENGBENRONEWS on Thursday in Abuja.
He described the experience of his over seven million compatriots living in Ghana as “galling”, saying that they were being stereotyped and treated with disdain in spite of their massive investments and contributions to the growth of the West African nation.
“We are being constantly attacked; our shops and businesses are forcefully closed down and they keep making us feel unwanted.
“It is quite sad; the attacks get more intense every day and we are treated as common criminals. Ghana wants to host the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area; it cannot do so while being hostile to its African brothers.
“We find all the hostility very disturbing. We think that Nigerians are being treated unfairly. We think that Nigerians are being perceived wrongly and we think that these things should not continue.
“This has been happening for a long time now, but because we did not have the coordination to tell our own stories, to actually project what has been going on, we remained silent.
“That is why we are visiting your organisation today – to find ways and means to speak out and get our story out there.
“The unfortunate thing is that the people, who try to victimise us, do not even know who we really are,” he said.
Ogbonna maintained that the attack on Nigerians living in Ghana might not be unconnected with previous diplomatic rifts between the two West African neighbours, especially Ghana’s Aliens Compliance Act in the 1960s, and related actions by Nigeria in the 1980’s.
“Such policies created a gulf among citizens of both nations and one can only imagine that the older generations keep relaying such past events to the younger ones which could cause some distrust,” he said.
The NiDO president urged the governments of both countries to take a holistic look at the relationship between the two countries and adopt drastic measures to address the situation so that citizens of both nations could live together as true Africans.
Ogbonna said that the recent clampdown on businesses owned by Nigerians and the attack on traders was “an unpleasant and poor reflection of the relationship between Ghana and Nigeria”.
According to him, the activities of Nigerian banks, businessmen and women in Ghana are creating job opportunities for both skilled and unskilled artisans in that country.
“The economic activities of millions of Nigerians are adding to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), growth of Ghana. Unfortunately, the media in that country hardly highlight these positive contributions.
“We have more than five banks owned by Nigerians doing business in Ghana. The banks include GTB, First Atlantic bank, UBA and several others. These outfits create jobs for their citizens.
“In fact, the banks only recently recapitalised; they increased their capital base significantly. Initially, the capital base was $100 million, but they have recapitalised to about $400 million.
“It will interest you to know that all the Nigerian banks were able to meet the requirements. That is a huge investment in the Ghanaian economy.
“It is also on record that a Nigerian is the single largest individual investor in the whole of Ghana. Go to the insurance sector, we are big players there.
“So, we are actually helping their economy because these banks employ hundreds of their people.
“The insurance companies employ hundreds of them and these jobs help put food on the tables of these workers.
“We make money which circulates in their economy and promotes its growth. So, we wonder why we should go through such hostilities,” he said.