By Papisdaff Abdullah
Ghana’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Rashid Bawa has denied claims by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan that Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo mocked Nigeria in a recent speech.
In a statement, Ambassador Bawa stated Mr. Akufo-Addo has always referred to Nigeria as “a country I describe as my second home in the world,” and will never use the West African country to make negative examples.
The reaction comes after Goodluck Jonathan said he is ashamed that Nigeria is now being used as a negative example in the international community by Mr. Akufo-Addo
This was in reference to comments made by Ghana’s President Akufo Addo, during a Keynote Address at the 2018 Oxford Africa Conference earlier this month.
During the speech, Mr. Akufo-Addo drew a comparison between 1980 and present-day Nigeria, addressing the need for a collective effort to address the continents challenges.
“For most of you in the audience today, it is probably before your time, but in the late 1970s up to the mid-1980s, as a result of the discovery of considerable petroleum deposits, Nigeria was booming. It was the place to be. We Ghanaians, who were going through very difficult times then, would arrive at Heathrow airport, and be herded into a cage to be subjected to the full third degree by Immigration, and we would look on as our Nigerian cousins would be waved through, with a ‘welcome sir’ and a ‘welcome madam,” Mr. Akufo-Addo said in his speech.
The comments have, however, been interpreted as disparaging by the former Head of State of the neighboring country.
Goodluck Jonathan speaking recently at the inauguration of a bridge in Ekiti State said he was embarrassed by Mr. Akufo-Addo’s comments. He added that the comments meant the current leaders of Nigeria have failed.
But Ambassador Bawa in his reaction said Goodluck Jonathan has deliberately misrepresented the comments of Mr. Akufo-Addo for political gains.
Below is the full statement by Ambassador Bawa
The attention of the Ghana High Commission in Nigeria, and, indeed, of the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has been drawn to comments made by the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan, to the effect that President Akufo-Addo has made disparaging remarks about Nigeria.
It is important to stress that the comments made by the former Nigerian President, at the inauguration of the first bridge built by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State in Ado Ekiti, took the words of President Akufo-Addo completely out of context.
Indeed, in the speech delivered by President Akufo-Addo at the Oxford African Conference, one of the instances used by former President Goodluck Jonathan, these are the exact words of President Akufo-Addo:
‘For most of you in the audience today, it is probably before your time, but in the late 1970s up to the mid-1980s, as a result of the discovery of considerable petroleum deposits, Nigeria was booming. It was the place to be. We Ghanaians, who were going through very difficult times then, would arrive at Heathrow airport, and be herded into a cage to be subjected to the full third degree by Immigration, and we would look on as our Nigerian cousins would be waved through, with a ‘welcome sir’ and a ‘welcome madam’.
The newspaper headlines in this country were full of Nigerians leaving or forgetting bundles of money in taxis and telephone booths. Nigerians were the preferred tenants for those who had apartments to let. You could stop by any Thomas Cook shop on any High Street in this country and buy or sell Naira, the Nigerian currency, and you could do the same in New York, and I suspect in many other Western country cities.
I do not need to spell out today’s reality to anyone in this audience. I cite this just to make the point that the “the outside world” is well able to tell that there are separate sovereign nations on the African continent. But, when the news is not good, then Africa is treated as one entity.”
How, then, can anyone describe these words by President Akufo-Addo as intending to mock Nigeria?
Again, the other alleged remark that “Ghana is not Nigeria where cattle can roam about anyhow” has never been made by President Akufo-Addo. That is not his way of speaking.
President Akufo-Addo, in many of the speeches he has made in Nigeria and elsewhere, since becoming President of Ghana, has described Nigeria as “a country I describe as my second home in the world”, and will never use Nigeria to make negative examples, as the former President Goodluck Jonathan sought to portray.
President Akufo-Addo enjoys a very good relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari, as he has with many other Nigerian leaders. Ghana and Nigeria are like siblings, and it would be most inappropriate, because of politics, for anyone, regardless of his or her status in society, to try to sow seeds of discord amongst the leadership and peoples of our two countries.
Amb. Rashid Bawa
Ghana’s High Commissioner to Nigeria