Why Ghana and Nigeria are like Twin Brothers
If Ghanaians want to compare Ghana to any other country in West Africa it will not be Liberia, it will not be Cote d’Ivoire, it will also not be Burkina Faso, and neither will it be Togo nor Benin. It shall be Nigeria.
People in these two countries will ignore all other West African countries and compare themselves to each other in anything. The rivalry is deep.
One factor that undoubtedly accounts for this deep-rooted rivalry or better still, friendship is the fact that both were under the same colonial master and therefore had the same training.
Independence from colonial rule was not handed to them on a silver platter. Both had to fight for it and once Ghana had it, it was a matter of course for Nigeria who had it three years later.
There were only four countries in West Africa that belonged to the British Commonwealth and spoke the English language as their second and official language. They were the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria.
The only thing Ghana does not come near Nigeria is Nigeria’s size and population. Only few countries on the continent can compare.
In the 1950’s when we were at primary school we had Nigerian children among us. I remember names like Wabi Lagos, Karimu Lagos, Rasaki Lagos and Adeyemi Lagos. Their parents were mostly traders and we all lived together in our rural village peacefully.
Rivalry in Football
Ghana’s rivalry with Nigeria can be found in sports and especially in football. When teams from both countries are going to clash, be it friendly or tournament the hype is great and no team wants to be the loser. It has been like this over a long time and recently when Nigeria lost to Ghana in the World Cup play-off on their own soil it was a disaster for them. It wasn’t an easy feeling and the pain is still lingering in their hearts.
In previous groupings for the World Cup the next group Ghanaians would like to know after knowing their own is that of Nigeria. They like to know when the two will meet. If one of them fails to qualify the loser is behind the winner.
Despite their painful loss to Ghana, Nigerians shall surely rally support for Ghana in their group match against South Korea, at least for West African solidarity.
Citizens of these two countries depend on each other for economic survival when the economy of one is in distress.
Nigerians have migrated to live and work in Ghana to make better their economic well-being. They did it in the colonial times and are still doing it now. In Ghana now Nigerians have dominated the mobile phone trade. If it weren’t Ghana where would they go?
Likewise for Ghanaians a lot of them ran to seek economic refuge in Nigeria during the early days of the Rawlings era. Mostly young men who could have stayed to help build their country fled to Nigeria, booming in oil trade by then provided a safe haven for them to seek economic refuge. If it weren’t Nigeria where would they go?
It is a good thing for both countries to cushion one another’s citizens in times of economic difficulties. That’s what brotherhood stands for.
Aliens Compliance Order
In around 1972 the Aliens Compliance order by the Progress Party government of Ghana expelling illegal aliens staying in Ghana affected Nigerians more than any other nationality.
When a similar thing occurred in Nigeria some years later it was mostly Ghanaians who were affected. This occurred in two phases and the second one which occurred in 1984 was described by observers as the greatest movement of people across a border after the mass exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
In the area of movie production Nigerians lead Ghana but have collaborated well with Ghanaians. Here there is collaboration rather than rivalry and this has improved the performance of Ghanaians in acting and in movie production.
Nigerian Traders in Ghana
Quite recently there has been some wrangling between the two countries over Nigerian traders in Ghana. Ghanaian law prohibits foreigners from engaging in retail trade but Nigerians are engaged in it to the disadvantage of Ghanaians.
When Ghanaian traders complain the Nigerians say Ecowas protocols allow free movement and trade among people in the sub-region.
In a recent development some shops of Nigerian traders were forcefully closed by Ghanaian authorities and this issue rose to the highest level compelling Nigerian Head of State to advise his Ghanaian counterpart to treat his citizens fairly.
This has unfortunately appeared to have resulted in weakening the friendship.
Even if diplomatic relations turn sour and borders get closed the citizens of both countries will continue as partners in trade and commerce as well as in seeking economic refuge in each other’s country when the situation demands.
That has been the trend over decades and it will be difficult for any government to ban travel or trade between citizens of the two countries.