I was amused in no mean/small measure to read the news report in which Mr. Michael Olufemi Abikoye, Nigeria’s High Commissioner/Ambassador to Ghana, was reported to be saying that the Ghanaian media in recent times appeared to be verging dangerously on xenophobia, when it came to reporting on serious crimes that occurred in Ghana in which some Nigerian nationals resident in Ghana were found to be involved, such as the recent kidnapping of the two white young Canadian women who were engaged in voluntary service with a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Kumasi, the Asante regional capital (See “Nigeria High Commission Laments ‘Xenophobic Tendencies’ in Crime Reportage” CitiNewsRoom.com / Ghanaweb.com 6/18/19).
The fact of the matter is that Nigerians are incomparably more xenophobic even among themselves and against non-Nigerians on both the African continent and in the Diaspora than any other nationalities, perhaps with the exception of post-Mandela South Africans and, as I am informed by reliable and authoritative sources, the Chinese. Even the most negative adjective/epithet used to malign African Americans, right here in the United States, namely, “Akata,” was coined and popularized by Nigerian immigrants. So how on this Earth could Ambassador Abikoye so brazenly and scandalously claim Ghanaian citizens to be more xenophobic than Nigerians? Not by any stretch of the imagination!
After all, aren’t Nigerians the only continental African people who specially either designed or designated a shopping bag called “Ghana Must Go!” to virulently campaign for the massive deportations of Ghanaian migrants in 1980 and, then again, in 1983 or thereabouts? Indeed, it has been said time and time again that “Those who live in glass houses ought not to throw stones.” I choose to adaptively paraphrase the preceding quote by saying that “Those who live in straw huts must not play with fire.” The fact of the matter is that Nigerian criminality inside the territorial boundaries of the Democratic Republic of Ghana has reached epidemic proportions and ought to be seriously discussed between the leaders of both countries, as well as among ECOWAS leaders, with the view to finding a constructive solution to the same.
And for the epistemic information of prominent Nigerian citizens like Ambassador Abikoye, in 1996, or thereabouts, the American-owned and published globally renowned Newsweek Magazine ran a series of articles on the profile of the typical high-end Nigerian-born US-resident criminal. It was quite an impressive eyeopener. For example, the authors of the Newsweek Magazine Series noted that the typical big-time Nigerian criminal tended to have obtained a doctorate from one of the Ivy League institutions, such as Columbia, Yale and Harvard universities. It is also a readily verifiable common knowledge that at least two-thirds of the most serious crimes – including murder, grand-theft, fraud and extortion – perpetrated by many an African national here in the United States are authored by Nigerians. And then, of course, we have yet to discuss the “Almighty Boko Haram.”
Indeed, when Gen. Colin Luther Powell, the first African American to be named Chairman of the Joint-Chiefs-of-Staff of the United States’ Military or Chief-of-the-Defense-Staff, returned from a working official tour of Nigeria during the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s tenure, in the 1990s, Gen. Powell was reported to have publicly stated that the only country in the Third World where the leadership was more corrupt than Nigeria was President Nawaz Shariff’s Pakistan.
You see, we are not talking about mere anecdotes here, devoid of practical reality. What clearly needs to be done here is for prominent and distinguished Nigerian citizens and leaders like Ambassador Abikoye to critically examine the kind of cultural values and upbringing of Nigerians, in general, that seems to make the latter nationals appear to be far more prone to indulging in wanton and violent acts of criminality wherever a critical mass of these Nigerian nationals congregate around the world. Then also who hasn’t received some of those emails asking the potential victim to give the sender their bank account, so that these Nigerian-originated scam-artists transfer millions of dollars of some political windfall into the same? Being facilely and vacuously defensive, as some of my Nigerian colleagues and friends tried to do in the wake of the publication of the Newsweek Magazine Series will not wash.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
June 18, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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