As much as I condemn any bad treatments of fellow Africans in fellow African nation States, and as Nigerians throw vituperations on Ghanaians on what they consider “detestable and unwarranted treatment” of some Nigerian citizens in Ghana, I just hope we Nigerians are not being dyslexic or amnestic to what I consider not too old a history.
In 1983, Nigeria over a policy of the then administration of President Shehu Shagari in the most dehumanizing manner deported over 1 million Ghanaians who came to seek refuge in Nigeria! History also recalls that Ghana did same to Nigerians earlier in 1954 but the truth is that this argument of who did what first and how justifiable this seems to be (if indeed it is) is baseless because maturity requires that we do not mete others with a treatment considered unreasonable just because they first did to us. Civilized people act with decorum and guarded propriety, this is one of such things that differentiate us from animals…cohabitants of our world.
We never cared where these lovely people (our fellow African brothers and sisters) were to go to, we whipped them unto waiting trucks supervised by our usual unschooled policemen) most of these Ghanaians were helpless women and their crying babies) ones who had no money to relocate to other countries when the first instruction to leave was issued by our country. We dealt with them before the glare of the whole world with unimaginable abandon, the video clips are still in YouTube for anyone who cares to watch. The move instigated the popular coinage “Ghana Must Go” which we still shamefully and most inconsiderately use till this today in Nigeria! Many Ghanaians died as a result of that grossly insensitive action of our government on fellow African citizens and the most shameful silence of our people in 1983, with many Ghanaian families still suffering today from the permanent psychological injury of the trauma of what we did to them. Today, we are on the receiving end and if we know our history, we should be slow in casting vituperations on Ghanaians, we should simply introspect by “using our tongue to count our teeth” as the Igbo proverb instructs.
There are simple lessons to learn however. Fix your country and your citizens would have no reason going to force themselves on other people for a living…they’ll rather go there on visits and if treated badly, they’ll come home to their country which assuredly would offer them security and pride. The second lesson is another simple one and I think one I consider the most important, “that which we do not want to be done to us we should be careful not to do to others because we do not know tomorrow and times indeed change”. No condition is permanent! That’s wisdom. The person you see riding on a horse today may be the one walking on foot tomorrow while the one you see walking on foot today may be the one riding a horse tomorrow.
Nigerians should learn to antipathize arrogance, nonchalance and wickedness (these three are traits of most Nigerians today). The recent treatment of our citizens in Ghana is a good lesson for us as a country and food for thought. It is time for us to start asking ourselves pertinent questions as a nation and a people about our role in Africa and the world. Are we a solutions provider and a soothing balm to the wounds of the world or have we Nigerians now become the obnoxious problem of Africa, Africans and the world? These are pertinent questions we should “quietly” ask ourselves as a people and a nation before casting vituperations on others. Wisdom cries aloud in the streets!
Ndubuisi Idejiora-Kalu is an engineer and strategist with interest in national security and international relations. He is author of the bestseller, Strategy.
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