I write against the background news of the decision by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to have some 30,000 undocumented Nigerian migrants and/or immigrants repatriated to their country of birth (See CGTN-TV’s report by Ms. Kelechi Emekalam captioned “Germany to Speed Up Repatriation of Undocumented Nigerians” 6/28/19). What this means is that illegal Nigerians resident in Germany have put quite a lot of pressure on the social and economic resources of Western Europe’s largest economy, such that legally resident aliens, including Nigerians, of course, are having difficulties legitimately accessing these services. Strikingly similar measures are being presently taken by the Trump Administration right here in the United States. In the afore-referenced videoclip whatsapped to me by my good friend Mr. Kwasi Ohene, we see one male, presumably a Nigerian native, being rudely pulled up from under what looks like a passenger train somewhere in Germany. Ms. Kelechi Emekalam, the reporter who filed the story being herein discussed for CGTN Africa-TV from Abuja, the Nigerian capital, says that the process of having these uninvited and undocumented Nigerians returned to their country of origin has taken so many years, such that the German authorities are increasingly becoming aggravated and impatient.
Indeed, as of this writing, the German Foreign Minister was reported to have arrived in Abuja to negotiate with the Buhari government for the speedy repatriation of these “parasitic” Nigerian nationals. Ms. Emekalam of CGTN-Africa TV does not tell her listeners what occasioned the decision by the German authorities to have these legally undocumented Nigerians shipped back home. But it is quite clear that most of these undocumented Nigerians are not hi-end investors who are significantly boosting up the apparently strained economy of Berlin, as the likes of University of Lagos’ Prof. Augustine/Austin Uzoma Nwagbara would have Ghanaians and Nigerians resident in Ghana believe about the alarming swarming, and swamping, of Ghana by an estimated 7 million Nigerian nationals, a remarkable percentage of whom have been widely reported by Ghana’s media to be engaged in serious crimes ranging from armed robbery, rape and murder.
If anything at all, contrary to what Nigerian critics of Ghanaians like Prof. Nwagbara would have the international community believe, if anything at all, these illegally resident Nigerians immigrants and migrants have put an equally heavy strain on Ghana’s economy and social services and intervention programs, such as the newly implemented fee-free Senior High School System by the Akufo-Addo-led progressive and neoliberal government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), also auspiciously implemented by the erstwhile John Agyekum-Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party a little over 10 years ago. What I want to highlight here is the imperative need for the government of President Akufo-Addo to promptly follow the savvy lead by the Merkel government of Germany. It is also significant to observe that we are not having the same hue-and-cry that met with Ghana’s media reportage of the uniquely high spate of acts of heinous criminality being committed in our country by a largely undocumented elements of the Nigerian community in Ghana.
There are, of course, legally resident Nigerian immigrants in Ghana who are making legitimate and positive use of the opportunities made available to them by the laws and regulations of their host country. It is therefore, decidedly, not all a one-way street, contrary to what the likes of the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Nigeria, would have the rest of the world believe about even the most productively engaged Nigerian citizens resident in Ghana. Indeed, having approximately 7 million Nigerians living in Ghana – this figure was reportedly given by Mr. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, the Ghanaian parliamentarian, in the wake of the most recent diplomatic flareup between Ghana and Nigeria – as opposed to an estimated 2 million Ghanaian nationals currently living in West Africa’s most populous country, clearly means that Nigerians resident in Ghana may be having a far more qualitative and better experience than their Ghanaian counterparts resident in Nigeria.
Now, what the foregoing means is that the Akufo-Addo government must begin stringently enforcing both Ghanaian laws dealing with immigration and those of ECOWAS (that is, the Economic Community of West-African States) as well. I know, for instance, that there are laws that clearly define how long any Nigerian citizen who entered Ghana in the name of ECOWAS’ visa-free protocol but without having filed for permanent residency beforehand, is permitted to stay in Ghana and vice-versa. But, alas, what I almost forgot to add, for good measure, of course, is the fact that absolutely no Nigerians resident in Germany have been reported to have taken to the streets of Berlin, Bonn, Hanover or any of the other major cities of Germany vehemently protesting the very savvy decision by Chancellor Merkel to have the 30,000 uninvited and undocumented Nigerians presently resident in Germany returned to their country of origin.
What is more, the likes of Prof. Nwagbara and the Nigerian High Commissioner/Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Michael Abikoye, are not protesting this apparently negative stereotyping of Nigerian citizens resident in Germany but, ironically, find it perfectly expedient to virulently accuse both the Ghanaian media, the people and our government of poisoning the image and reputation of Nigerians around the world. I am also quite certain that the 30,000 Nigerians reportedly scheduled for deportation back to their native country constitute only a small fraction of the total population of illegal and/or undocumented foreigners in Germany. So, the most logical question to ask here is as follows: Precisely why would the German government decide to single out the Nigerians for prompt and expeditious repatriation? Dear Reader, it is incontrovertibly about the proverbial Elephant-in-the-Room that absolutely nobody wants to talk about, unless, of course, it happens to be operatives of the Ghanaian media who are pushing the same.
*Visit my blog at: okoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
June 30, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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