igeria and Ghana are among the most culturally and economically integrated countries in West Africa. Diplomatic ties between both countries are strong, but it recently went sour with the news of inhumane treatment and deportation of 723 Nigerians living in Ghana.
The Ghanaian Immigration Service (GIS) cited criminal offenses like cybercrime and prostitution and visa term violations as reasons for these deportations. But a closer look at the conditions surrounding this action makes it questionable.
Where it Makes no Sense
These deportations may be negative for the integration of the West Africa region, especially if Nigeria retaliates in kind.
It will be disastrous if Nigeria were to, for instance, deport the over 500,000 Ghanaians living in the country, or even the 480,000 of them that are without proper documentation.
Besides, Ghana is among the most respected African countries in terms of respect and preservation of human dignity. This action threatens that status.
GIS might be right to initiate deportation proceedings on immigrants accused of criminal conduct. But deporting individuals from ECOWAS member states citing visa-overstay is against the bloc’s agreement.
Also, claims of torture and maltreatment of immigrants accused of cybercrimes and prostitution make it even more embarrassing for GIS.
Ghana can do better.
Ghanaians and Nigerians are brothers and sisters. Deportation without due process is dangerous to the preservation of this relationship.
Both countries share far too many things in common to treat each others’ citizens this way.
Ghana and Nigeria are guilty of condoning this shameful policy in the past.
In 1969 during the administration of former Prime Minister, Koffi Busia, Ghana implemented its Alien Compliance Order, which saw the deportation of undocumented West African immigrants, mostly Nigerians.
Two decades later, under the government of Shehu Shagari, Nigeria retaliated by deporting over 1 million African immigrants in 1983, most of who were Ghanaians.
Although the deportations were part of many calculated political moves by Shagari to divert the growing criticism on Nigeria’s failing economy. Blaming Ghanaians for stealing Nigerian jobs was easy although senseless.
Shagari’s policy strained relationships between the neighbors and it took years for mutual respect to be reinstalled.
If the present Nigerian government take in-kind measures against the actions of GIS, we might be back to the years of diplomatic hostility between the two countries.
Ghana is Undoing its Own Economy by Deporting Nigerian Immigrants
Nigerians living in Ghana are making significant contributions to the host country’s economy.
They pay millions of dollars for degrees in Ghanian institutions and invest in well-performing businesses. They are among the many categories of immigrants that aids the Ghanaian economy by significantly powering its Gross Domestic Product.
If Ghana does not wish to lose a good source of economic strength, it should consider treating immigrants with dignity, even while prosecuting them for criminal offenses.
These sort of clampdowns sends bad signals to potential lawful immigrant or investor. Besides, ECOWAS member states must adhere to the understanding that guarantees the fair treatment and safety of West Africans.
African Unity should be Preserved
Brotherliness among African countries is what all African nations should strive to attain. Not by disregarding Africa’s shared interests. And this action by the Ghanaian authorities is on the negative side.
If Africans do not treat each other with respect and dignity, how can the continent and its people expect the rest of the world to respect Africans?
What message are we sending to the European countries that are in the process initiating more stringent immigration policies on African immigrants?
We cannot be hypocritical.
Abdullah Aderemi Tijani is an African Liberty Writing Fellow and a Local Coordinator at Student For Liberty. He is a Law student at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Nigeria.