History repeats itself they say. Over three decades ago, a General of the Nigerian Armed Forces seized power. Unlike many other coup makers, he is recounted and admired as the leader who did not submit to Western influence. He is reported to have defied the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditionalities and ended the almost monopolistic stranglehold Britain had over the supply of commodities to Nigeria. From the above exploits of an African leader, particularly with respect to his economic posturing towards the West, the prognoses were high that he would not govern for long. And verily, as history would have it, General Muhammadu Buhari was overthrown in 1985, after having governed for only two years during the 1983 to 1985 epoch. However, as part of his house cleaning exercise to restore Nigeria back to Nigerians, the good old General had to deport over 700,000 West Africans. This was due to the fact that, the free-for-all atmosphere that preceded his tenure of office saw many West Africans domiciled in Nigeria for the sake of making a quick buck. Most of these immigrants were Ghanaians. As such, in what became the rather infamous “Ghana Must Go” show down, Ghanaians were expelled from Nigeria in one fell swoop. Exactly 32 years after that unpleasant episode for those evicted Ghanaians, the retired General inches close to the highest political office of Nigeria once more. However, the dynamics today are certainly different. When the undercurrents today are considered in terms of immigration, it is now Nigerians who have moved and continue to move to Ghana in their droves. This mass exodus to Ghana has been largely due to the relative peace and stability that has characterized the former Gold Coast since Buhari was last in power. As such, one would expect that if any group ‘must go’ at all, it would rather be Nigerians from Ghana; and not vice versa. Nonetheless, the focus of this article has to do with another type of dependency that Ghana has on Nigeria. While our reliance was an issue of Immigration in the 1980’s, it is now a matter of Natural Gas Supply today. Ghana’s thermal plants rely heavily on supply of gas from Nigeria via the West African Gas Pipeline. Currently, supply to Ghana has been far below desired volumes. This is due to Nigeria’s plan to utilize gas for a planned rapid industrialization drive – under the Nigeria Gas Master Plan. In this respect, knowing General Buhari as the brutal pragmatist he was, it would not be irrational to anticipate that he could call for a total cut of supply to Ghana; if that is what is required to further the Nigerian industrialization agenda. If this situation were to arise, then Ghana’s already sorry plight with regards to power generation would be further worsened to disastrous proportions. However, Ghana can fairly rely on three mitigating parameters to assuage her fears from the possibility of this undesirable circumstance. The first being the fact that the man, if he eventually wins, has shed his military garments and as such would be expected to handle such matters with the expected diplomatic style – as opposed to the militant stance of the yesteryears. He is also far older now; and age has a way of cooling blistering temperaments and making cold hearts warmer. The last trump card available to Ghana, which will remain subconsciously dominant in this entire scenario but will seldom be mentioned, is the fact of the increasing Nigerian population domiciled in Ghana roughly estimated to be over 2 million. All in all, it is expected that diplomatic relations will triumph on this occasion and thus, the bellicose temperament that characterized Ghana – Nigerian dealings during Buhari’s first tenure will not repeat itself in the event that the general eventually asserts victory.
- Ted Talks: Monica Lewinsky, The Price of Shame
- Dark Days in Ghana