The radiance in their faces certainly revealed that it has never been so sweet for Ghanaians resident in Nigeria. The venue was the Amusement Park, Randle Way, Apapa, Lagos and the occasion was the celebration of Ghana's 45th Republic Day anniversary and the 10th Anniversary of NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GHANAIAN COMMUNITIES IN NIGERIA (NAGHACON).
With pomp and ceremony, they danced to thrilling renditions of Ghanaian cultural music played by various cultural troupes such as The Heart Menders of the Ghanaian Christian Community International, the Volta Youth Singers and the Adowa Cultural Dance Troupe of the Ave Saint Academy (a Ghanaian Community School in Agbado Kollington, Lagos).
With the intermittent shout of “Unity is Power”, the Association's motto, the colourful ceremony was climaxed with stocktaking of the life and times of Ghanaians resident in Nigeria. With the excitement of a commander of a liberated war front, the President of NAGHACON, Mr. James Kwegyir-Aggrey made a historical excursion, telling with anecdote how Ghanaians resident in Nigeria transformed from a life of bitterness to that of hope and joy. Extracts of his speech, read on.
Our will to survive.
Once upon a time, there came a period in the life of a certain nation, when certain things went wrong and life became almost unbearable for the citizens and many started to look elsewhere for respite. That country is Ghana, which previously was known and called Gold Coast. Life, they say is full of ups and downs, you fall sometimes and you rise again and so Ghana's economy experienced a downturn in the 1970s; Nigeria, our sister country readily came to the minds of many Ghanaians as the place where they could get succour. Thus, many Ghanaians aspired to come to Nigeria, which was generally known in Ghana at the time as AGEGE. Confused but determined to forge ahead with life, we so were preoccupied with the will to survive and succeed in the situation we found ourselves that we threw to the winds the traditional Ghanaian brotherliness and care. We cared little for one another. There was total absence of understanding and co-operation among Ghanaians. There were numerous welfare-related problems to handle. The Ghana High Commission in Nigeria was inundated with avalanche of problems on daily basis, such that the Mission officials were worried. A brainstorming session to articulate solutions eventually came up with the idea that we form an Association in every locality Ghanaians live in Nigeria.
Birth of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GHANAIAN COMMUNTIES IN NIGERIA In the 1980s, the Ghana High Commission harmonized various cells of Ghanaians into one unified body, called the National Association of Ghanaian Communities in Nigeria (NAGHACON). The aim was to give us a national character and remove any colouration of ethnicity while providing us the medium to achieve success in our sojourn. By 1994, NAGHACON had waxed very strong, fulfilling the goal of providing welfare programmes that were facilitated through the encouragement of unity and love among us. Under the arrangement, only matters beyond the capability of the Association were passed on to the Ghana High Commission to handle. To ensure easy monitoring and administration of the affairs of Ghanaians and carry everybody along, the High commission decided to form a central body to coordinate the various Chapters of the Association. It was in line with this that The Lagos State Council of NAGHACON was formed and inaugurated on July 1, 1995 by the then High Commissioner, His Excellency, Mr. John K. Tettehgah. Since then we have recorded some significant achievements worthy of mention.
Ten years after, the association transformed to what it is today, I can confidently say it has united Ghanaians and brought discipline and relief into the Community. Thus, we were able to respond quickly during the last stadium disaster in Ghana. We organized fund raising and sent the proceeds to Ghana, which the government acknowledged by issuing us a certificate. In the same vain, we sponsored a successful surgical operation of a Nigerian child, called Babatunde living at Ejigbo, who had cancer of the mouth. Today, Ghanaians resident in Nigeria are each other's keeper. We collectively care for our sick as well as protect and defend our members in time of trouble. The Association has its own News Magazine (the mouthpiece of the Ghanaians) called “NAGHACON News” published every quarter to educate, inform and entertain Ghanaians in Nigeria.
Thanks to Nigeria and NAGHACON Founders
As we take stock of ten years of this Association's existence, we want to thank our host country, Nigeria and Nigerians for the love, kindness and support they have given us. Nigerians are certainly good people and we love them. It is our prayer that our friendship lasts forever. I would like to pay tribute to the founding members of the Lagos State Council of NAGHACON which include Mr. Ben Bilson Esuon (the first President), Mr. Kofi Odoom-Danquah (the first Vice President who later became the second President), Mr. Kofi Ankomah Arthur (the first State Financial Secretary), Mr. K.A. Manu (the first State Treasurer) and others like Mr. Victor Quartey, Mr. Tijani Enum, late Kofi Brew, my humble self James Kwegyir-Aggrey (the first General Secretary and facilitator) and many others who sacrificed a lot and toiled to create awareness of NAGHACON
Problems Like any other organization, NAGHACON has its own problems. In spite of the Association's humble achievements mentioned above, there are quite a good number of hurdles we have to surmount. Crucial among these hurdles is how to refocus the thinking of some Ghanaians especially the youths living in Nigeria to see reason and identify themselves with the Association. They emerge only when they run into trouble. It is a sad issue that we must tackle with vigor in view of the large Ghanaian population in the country.
The NAGHACON President, Mr. James Kwegyir-Aggrey, further said the Association was well positioned and determined to educate and empower its members to realize their life's ambitions and improve upon their living standards. He explained that the Association has put in place programmes that will enable Ghanaians to contribute their quota to the development of Ghana even though they live outside the country.
The celebration had Mr. Sam Afrifa-Kyei, the Minister Plenipotentiary of the Ghana High Commission, Nigeria representing His Excellency the Ghana High Commissioner in Nigeria Gen. Joshua Hamidu (rtd) as the Special guest of Honour. Mr. Afrifa-Kyei praised Ghanaians resident in the country for being law abiding as well as being their brothers' keeper. He told the audience to show interest in socio-political developments going on in Ghana. He used the occasion to explain the political and economic policies of the administration of President Kufour and asked them to ask questions where they are in doubts.
He, however, frowned at the treatment given to Ghanaians by Nigerian border guards when traveling to and from Nigeria. He said he or the Ghana High Commission was not opposed to border guards carrying out their legitimate duties “but when the exercise degenerates to the level of harassment, then we have reason to appeal to the government of Nigeria to intervene in the interest of our good relationship.” He said the High Commission would not defend any Ghanaian who breaks immigration rules.
Mr. Afrifa-Kyei after his speech now inaugurated the “CHAMBER OF NAGHACON PATRONS”. A group made up of respected eminent Ghanaian elders, professionals and businessmen and act as Advisers to NAGHACON
Honour to whom honour is due At the occasion, prominent Ghanaian citizens who have done pretty well and have made commendable achievements in their various fields of endeavour were honoured with various Awards to appreciate them for making Ghana and Ghanaians proud, to encourage them to do more and to show them as role models for other Ghanaians to emulate.
The following people bagged the OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP/ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
1) H.E. Gen. Joshua Hamidu (rtd), High Commissioner of Ghana to Nigeria. 2) Mr. Herbert Osei-Baidoo (Life Patron of NAGHACON)
3) Mr. Henry Dodoo-Amoo (Patron of NAGHACON)
4) Deacon Stephen Y.T. Ampey (Patron of NAGHACON)
Some non-Ghanaians were also given this award for the love various help to Ghanaians and immense contributions to the Ghanaian Community in Nigeria. Prominent among them is Dr. Paul Olisa Ojeih, a renowned Alternative (Natural) Medical Practitioner.
Many other prominent Ghanaians were also honoured with DISTINGUISHED SERVICES AWARD and MERITORIOUS SERVICE AWARD.
We congratulate Ghanaians in Nigeria on the occasion of their 10th Anniversary.