Being a joint statement of the Socialist Forum of Ghana and the Socialist Workers & Youth League, Nigeria
The Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG) and Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL, Nigeria) find the spread of xenophobic sentiments against Nigerians in Ghana worrisome. National chauvinism in any form undermines the international unity of working-class people and primarily serves the interest of the ruling class.
As socialists, we thus urge the poor masses to resist animosity towards fellow poor workers, artisans and neighbours, based on differences in nationality, or for any other reason. We should be clear on who our enemies are. They are the rich and powerful who have benefited from the looting of our resources and exploitation of our labour, be they Ghanaians, Nigerians or any other nationality.
The backdrop of the current worrisome trend is the alleged links of a few Nigerians to criminal activities in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi, over the last ten months. It is however important to put these in perspective. Increasing crime rates in our society, including both in Ghana and Nigeria, reflect the worsening social and economic conditions being faced by an ever-expanding number of people.
The fact of the matter is that more youths, irrespective of their nationalities are turning more and more to crime as a means of survival. While this is not to be condoned, the primary culprits are the rich people who keep getting richer even in the face of rising poverty in the land.
It equally needs to be pointed out that only a mere handful of Nigerians have been found complicit of criminal activities, while there are about 2 million Nigerians living in Ghana. Most of these are working-class people earning their daily bread as workers, traders and artisans, just like millions of their Ghanaian sisters and brothers.
In a way characteristic of the venom that accompanies the rearing of xenophobia’s ugly head across our dear continent over the years, “foreigners”, in this case Nigerians who have been involved in legitimate means of earning their livelihoods have now been targeted. Retail traders transacting their businesses in honest manners have been adversely affected, with shops operated by Nigerians shutdown by Ghanaian spare parts dealers. With xenophobia, one thing leads to another, and the abyss of violence comes calling.
The root cause of xenophobic tendencies are not the criminal tendencies of a few foreigners. It is not accidental that this sort of things happens during economic crises. There is a history of the Ghanaian and Nigerian ruling classes condoning and even implementing chauvinistic practices and policies since the end of colonial rule, despite the fact that Nigeria and Ghana are among the most culturally and economically integrated countries in West Africa.
In 1969 over 200,000 “illegal aliens” were deported from Ghana by the Kofi Busia government. These were Nigerians and other Africans, thousands of whom were born in Ghana and knew no other place they could call home. And in 1983, despite the coming into force of the Economic Community for West Africa States (ECOWAS) seven years earlier, the Shehu Shagari government expelled over 2 million “illegal aliens”. This was followed up two years later by the General Muhammadu Buhari junta which also deported 200,000 “foreigners”.
Thus, it is not the bosses’ class and their diplomacy that can bring an end to xenophobia. It is the working-class that must provide leadership to stop this ill wind that blows no good to the poor masses, in any country. SFG and SWL are committed to mass conscientization against chauvinism and for the unity of working-class people in Ghana and Nigeria, as well as across Africa and the world at large.
We note that the Trade Union Congress of Ghana and the Nigeria Labour Congress formally established bilateral relations in 2002. It is on issues such as this that the reality of such relations can best be demonstrated.
We thus call on both national trade union centres to provide the necessary leadership by carrying out mass mobilisation of workers in Ghana and Nigeria against the dangerous spread of xenophobic sentiments, forthwith.
Working people of Ghana, Nigeria and the whole world, unite and fight! Chauvinism and xenophobia only break our ranks and make the bosses strong!! We can bring to birth a new world based on solidarity and social justice, only with our united struggle!!!
1st July, 2019 @Aburi, Ghana