Ghana and Nigeria relationship dates to pre-Colonial era, history has it that the founding fathers of Ghana lead by Late Osagyfo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah related well with the Nigerian Nationalists: Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Tafawa Balewa.
However, in the recent time the relationship between Nigeria and Ghana has faced some challenges as against promoting economic opportunities for a greater socio-economic advancement.
In this exclusive chat with the Acting President of All Nigeria Community, Ghana Chapter, Chief Bayo Albert Asaolu; a Nigerian Senior Journalist, MOSES OWOPADE for thegazellenews.com, seeks to know the way forward. Excerpts:
Q: As the President of all Nigerians in Ghana, what key initiatives or policies do you plan to implement to address the specific needs and concerns of Nigerian citizens residing in Ghana? Can you provide some examples?
A: As you have rightly said, we are Nigerians and I, Chief Bayo Albert Asaolu is the acting president of All Nigeria Community in Ghana. The first initiative to really consider is to sustain the diplomatic relationship between the two countries, that has existed even before independence.
Good enough, the two countries are Anglo speaking countries in the west-African sub-region. Therefore, our major initiative will focus on how to improve our economy as strengthens free movement within the two countries. This we have already started. We do hope the result will be great.
Q: How do you plan to foster strong diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Ghana, ensuring the well-being and protection of Nigerian citizens in Ghana?
A: Our target is not only to protect Nigerians in Ghana but also to protect Ghanaians in Nigeria. As we speak we have opened line of communication with the Ghanaians in Nigeria and we are getting positive response.
Q: Nigerian citizens in Ghana face various challenges and concerns, including issues related to immigration, business opportunities, and cultural integration. What strategies do you have in place to effectively address these issues and ensure the rights and welfare of Nigerians living in Ghana?
A: No Nation operate in isolation. The issue of immigration has been a very major concern. We have written to Ghana immigration service, Ghana Police and other law enforcement agencies so as to address this great concern.
I really want to thank the law enforcement agencies for their support so far. At least we have received calls from them in case there is any Nigerian who is cut in any unlawful act which was not the situation before now. However, we want to roll out series of conferences that will involve leaders of law agencies in Ghana as speakers. I am sure we will achieve success.
Q: Ghana is home to a significant Nigerian community, contributing to the social and economic fabric of the country. What steps will you take to harness their contributions, encourage entrepreneurship, and promote their active participation in the development of Ghana?
A: The step to the advancement of economy of any country can not be total without foreign influence which also means exchange of goods and services. The least of Nigerians that had contributed to industrial development entertainment industry sport and many more can never be exhausted.
Though at the moment, Ghana is about to conduct another election, we are already developing ideas to Foster closer relationship between our leaders, especially the ministries of foreign affairs and of trade so as to improve on the industrialisation of the two countries. If you look at what goes on all over the world now, leaders are holding conferences on how to synergise to ensuring economic growth. ANC as an association is at an advantage position to encouraging this great step. Hence, our collaboration with our counterpart in Nigeria.
Q: Cooperation between Nigeria and Ghana is vital for regional stability and economic growth. How do you envision strengthening cooperation between both countries to enhance trade, investment, and cultural exchange for the mutual benefit of Nigerian citizens in Ghana and Ghanaians in Nigeria?
A: As earlier mentioned, most of the steps we are taking now will lead the two countries into a smoother economic journey that will be beneficial to our diplomatic relationship. The major step is to see ourselves as one family, then others will follow. I also need to mention that there are some issues on diplomatic matters that is exclusive to Government, as an association, we are not permitted to dable into it, we can only lobby and that, we are doing.
Q: Education and healthcare are fundamental aspects of any community’s well-being. How will you prioritize the provision of quality education and accessible healthcare services for Nigerian citizens in Ghana, considering the unique challenges they may face?
A: Let me start with health. Statutorily, there is no discrimination in health. Therefore that should be treated equally without any sentiment. Education is also expected to follow same pattern but that has become a debatable issue. So far, I have not seen any denial of admission into any school as long as you have required qualifications. Nevertheless, we as an association will ensure peaceful environment that has always existed. At ANC, we are setting up committees in all these areas and I am selecting advisers to work directly with me.
Q: In times of crises or emergencies, Nigerian citizens in Ghana may require immediate support. How will you ensure effective emergency response systems are in place to provide timely assistance and protect their safety and security?
A: Our major assignment as ANC members of executive is to ensure the welfare of Nigerians in Ghana. In terms of rapid response to challenging issues for Nigerians we have always play a pivotal role. We have repatriated many Nigerians who were vulnerable and re-integrated them with their family back home, though there are hundreds of others that need attention. We are not relenting.
Q: Integration into the host country’s society is crucial for Nigerian citizens in Ghana. How will you promote cultural integration, social cohesion, and understanding between Nigerians and Ghanaians to cultivate a harmonious and inclusive environment?
A: Harmony can only be achieved when there is mutual respect and obedience to the law. Therefore, I will want to encourage our citizens to respect the law of the host Country. I need to say it here that the law of Ghana and many Ghanaians are very friendly. In spite of the challenges with some of our citizens, I think we still have a lot who are collaborating effectively with Ghanaians. I will want us to build on this so as to take advantage of the social economic benefits. Culturally, we share a lot of things in common. We can empower the collaboration for greater benefits.
Q: With the increasing global focus on sustainable development and climate change, what measures will you undertake to ensure Nigerian citizens in Ghana actively participate in environmental conservation efforts and contribute to a greener, more sustainable future?
A: The issue of climate change is a global challenge that in my own view even the government don’t have answer to it. As human beings, We can only put measures to avert, minimise or possibly eradicate human activities that could influence disaster. I humbly encourage everyone of us to embrace good sanity and protection of our land.
Q: Lastly, how do you plan to engage with the Nigerian community in Ghana and encourage their active participation in the democratic process, ensuring their voices are heard and their concerns are addressed at the highest level?
A: Technically, as foreigners, until you have the necessary documents to qualify you in participating in democratic process, I will personally tell my colleagues Nigerians to stay off to avoid crisis. However for those who are qualified, each person is entitled to his own choice. As an association, participation in democratic matter is not our responsibility. Ours is to collaborate with any Government in power and I think we have enjoyed that over the years.
Finally, I want to thank you for this opportunity and humbly appeal to the Ghanaian media to relate more with us before reporting matters that concerns Nigerians. I personally have been in acting capacity and hopefully by December this year I will become substantive President of All Nigerian community in Ghana and I do believe many of the issues we have addressed will play major focus of my administration and my team. Once again, thank you for the opportunity.