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Ghana’s undiplomatic mess

The Ghanaian government last week moved to appease Nigeria over the diplomatic row, committing to restoring to its original state, the building of the Nigerian High Commission, Accra, Ghana that was demolished under its watch.

Penultimate Friday, armed men invaded the diplomatic compound of the Nigerian High Commission, Accra, Ghana, with bulldozer and other equipment.

Escorted by armed personnel and operating for hours, they demolished part of the residential building under construction.

There was only a whimper reaction from Nigeria. After 36 hours of the assault, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, issued a statement via his verified Twitter handle: “We strongly condemn two outrageous criminal attacks in Accra, #Ghana, on a residential building in our diplomatic premises by unknown persons in which a bulldozer was used to demolish the building.

“We are engaging with the Ghanaian government and we demand urgent action to find the perpetrators and provide adequate protection for Nigerians and their properties in Ghana.”

With palpable anger in Nigeria, Onyeama tweeted on Monday: “Summoned the Chargè d’ Affaires of the High Commission of #Ghana to Nigeria, Ms Iva Denoo, to demand urgent explanation on the recent attacks on a residential building in our diplomatic premises and reinforcement of security around diplomatic premises and staff.”

It was only after the summons that the Ghanaian government expressed regret.

But Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairperson, Alhaji Yusuf Buba, called the forceful entrance of the High Commission compound and the demolition as acts of “trespass.”

Buba stated: Ghana “violated many articles in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1949 and, therefore, must be sanctioned.

We shall deploy all legislative means, including exploring and invoking all necessary rules, regulations and instruments that guide our common membership in other parliaments, to compel Ghana to answer for this act of gross violation.”

On Tuesday, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana called President Muhammadu Buhari to tender “sincere apologies” for the demolition.

And in furtherance of the rapprochement, Mrs Shirley Ayokor Botchewey, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, admitted that in August 2000, offer was made and payment also made by the High Commission of Nigeria for the property, even though the High Commission could not produce the lease, land title certificate and building permit of the land.

Now, she said, the Land Commission will issue a Land Certificate, regularise ownership of the property in question and help Nigeria obtain building permit for the construction.

Then, Ghana will ensure that the demolished building is restored to its original state as soon as possible.

She added that officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ghana Police Service, National Security and Lands Commission are to investigate the unlawful demolition of the building.

This is not the first time the federal government has given tepid reactions on issues of this nature.

On January 03, 2020, Ghanaians attacked Nigerians and their property.

Even when there was at the same time threats of eviction from the High Commission compound, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied reports of a diplomatic row.

Nigeria’s experience in the hands of Ghana and Ghanaians highlights the failure of our foreign policy.

This big brother or Africa as centerpiece of our foreign policy should stop.

Nigeria should now look out for its interests.

What happened in Ghana penultimate Friday is a violation of Nigeria’s territorial integrity in its most brazen, crude and unmistaken manner.

It should never repeat itself anywhere without Nigeria’s immediate reciprocal or definitive measures.

For once, Ghana and other countries, especially in Africa, have to know that there are consequences for every action against Nigeria.

For now, Nigeria should thaw all diplomatic activities with Ghana.

It is not too late to recall its High Commissioner in Ghana as a form of protest.

And the message should be out and backed with action that Nigeria and Nigerians should not be toyed with, without consequences.

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