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On the Nigeria-Ghana diplomatic row

By Alade Fawole


Not a bit anger has been generated and duly expressed by Nigerians over the viral video of the demolition of parts of Nigeria’s diplomatic buildings which are nonetheless below building in Accra, Ghana, by individuals who claimed that the land on which the diplomatic compound is being constructed rightfully belongs to them and that Nigeria is a trespasser.

And this outpouring of anger and indignation at what Nigerians typically regard as a slap on our nationwide integrity just isn’t completely unjustified, particularly towards the backdrop of the poor remedies being meted to Nigerian nationals in a number of smaller African nations, a lot of that are beneficiaries of Nigeria’s sacrifices up to now.

Even this newspaper needed to publish a robust editorial expressing clear indignation on the demolition incident and the commonly unfriendly therapy of Nigerians resident and doing enterprise in that nation, noting particularly that “for some years now, Ghana has been harassing Nigerian residents and companies with some draconian legal guidelines and insurance policies, resulting in fixed protests by the Nigerian neighborhood in Ghana.”

Different commentators even known as for a discontinuation of the Afrocentric precept that has underpinned Nigeria’s exterior relations since 1960.

Those that commented and took umbrage on the ugly flip of occasions appear to labour below the false assumption {that a} high-level of cordiality, brotherliness and friendship exist in relations between Nigeria and Ghana, a truth which explains their umbrage.

This assumption is, sadly, removed from the fact, and I’ll clarify. However let me first set up a distinction between nation-states and their nationals as a foundation for our understanding of the mutual diplomatic relations between two nations.

As a rule, many public analysts and commentators on worldwide relations and diplomacy usually fall into the straightforward error of conflating the state and its nationals, and fail to tell apart the sovereign acts of the state from the acts of particular person nationals performing on their very own behalf reasonably than on behalf of the state. This conflation is clear within the current case.

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Over the many years since their independence, Nigeria-Ghana political and diplomatic relations have been fraught with difficulties, ideological disagreements, persona variations, geopolitical conflicts, rivalries over continental management, and so on.

Professor Olajide Aluko’s seminal research, Ghana and Nigeria, 1957-1966: A Research in Inter-African Discord supplies deep and insightful evaluation of their mutual rivalries, competitions, acrimonies and collaborations.

Since Ghana turned impartial in 1957 and Nkrumah successfully started his campaigns for African political unification by the internet hosting of a sequence of Africa-wide conferences of political events, commerce unions, political leaders, culminating within the first Convention of Impartial African States in Accra in 1958, relations with Nigeria have been tenuous.

First was the distinction in personalities and ideological orientations of Kwame Nkrumah and Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, additional compounded by accusations of Ghana’s meddling in Nigeria’s inside politics in furtherance of Nkrumah’s grand plan for African integration, an concept that Sir Abubakar derided, retorting that “Nigeria is sufficiently big and doesn’t want to hitch others…if others want to be part of Nigeria, their place can be made clear to them in such a union.”

We will additionally recollect acts of mutual expulsions of nationals within the 1960s and the 1980s, Ghana’s serial lack of cooperation with Nigeria’s diplomatic efforts in West Africa within the 1970s, as testified to by Joe Garba in his ebook, Diplomatic Soldiering.

Make no mistake about it, Nigeria and Ghana have been fellow rivals for affect and supremacy in each space, from sports activities to politics, to sub-regional cooperation to African unity and continental integration. This isn’t essentially a foul factor.

However the act of demolition in query was carried out by some apparently disgruntled non-public people performing on their very own behalf, not on behalf of the Ghanaian state, though the Excessive Fee claimed it didn’t obtain the anticipated safety from the Ghana police below the Vienna Conference on Diplomatic Relations (1961).

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Basically, the demolition was not the sovereign act of the Ghanaian state, so the federal government of Ghana can solely be blamed for shirking its obligations of safety below the Vienna Conference. There are not any indications that the Ghanaian authorities approved or sanctioned the act.

Let’s face it, assaults on diplomatic premises and amenities will not be remarkable, however the host governments at all times have to just accept full accountability for the safety of diplomatic premises and the acts of their nationals.

On this case, the Ghana authorities promptly condemned the acts, apologized to Nigeria, promised to convey the perpetrators to ebook; the Ghanaian president known as President Buhari and guaranteed it will rebuild the broken premises.

All these are as a result of Ghana because the host state bears accountability for the safety for and inviolability of diplomatic amenities in its capital, and is thus liable to pay ample compensations to Nigeria, until Nigeria doesn’t need it.

It’s the apply in diplomatic relations for host nations to compensate sending states for assaults/destruction/violation of diplomatic premises of their capitals.

Nigeria itself has needed to pay such compensations on at the very least two events that I can recall, as soon as within the late 1970s and the opposite in 2010s.

Within the instant aftermath of the assassination of Basic Murtala Muhammed within the abortive coup of February 1976, irate Nigerian youths invaded and broken the premises of the British Excessive Fee in Lagos on studying that Col. Bukar Suka Dimka, chief of the coupists, was sighted on the Excessive Fee whereas the coup was nonetheless in progress, allegedly to hunt help of the British Excessive Commissioner.

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As a result of Nigeria had failed to stop the mob assault on the diplomatic premises, the Excessive Commissioner, Sir Martin le Quesne, introduced formal requests to the Federal Army Authorities for simply compensation, though Nigeria’s offended response was to declare Sir Martin persona non grata for making a reputable request through the interval of official nationwide mourning for the assassinated head of state.

The second and most up-to-date event was after the Boko Haram bombing and destruction of the United Nations Nigerian headquarters compound in Abuja. It was Nigeria’s accountability below worldwide regulation and diplomatic relations to rebuild the broken buildings.

The latest incidents in Accra will not be a adequate floor for the diplomatic tit-for-tat that some have prompt. Each nations have a lot deeper and strategic nationwide pursuits and ties that bind them at each bilateral and multilateral ranges that they can not enable a minor storm within the tea cup to derail their relationship.

It was adequate that the Nigerian authorities stoutly protested the acts and the Ghana authorities promptly owned as much as its diplomatic duties and accepted to do the needful.

As soon as that’s executed, there isn’t any have to additional rub Accra’s face within the mud, in spite of everything Nigeria itself bears a part of the blame for the controversy by not absolutely perfecting all the mandatory procedures for the possession of the piece of land.

This quick evaluation doesn’t faux to debate the whole lot of the 2 nations relations however solely factors out why requires retaliation over constructing demolition are uncalled for.

Once more, it doesn’t faux to be unaware that Ghana has in recent times been implementing insurance policies that primarily discriminate towards Nigerians and their companies in that nation, however these are points that may and needs to be mutually negotiated and resolved on the diplomatic desk, not a matter for tit-for-tat.


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