In 1983, history witnessed checkered sturdy bags leave the shores of Nigeria on the heads and in the hands of migrants who had been ordered out of the country by Shehu Shagari. Half of these migrants were from Ghana.
The year was 1983, the day, January 17. Shehu Shagari, the Nigerian leader who favoured long hats, declared the expulsion of an estimated two million undocumented migrants living in the country. “If they don’t leave, they should be arrested and tried and sent back to their homes. Illegal immigrants, under normal circumstances, should not be given any notice whatsoever,” President Shagari said.
However, not only did this action gain attention from the international scene, but the bags used by the migrants also did. The sturdy checked bags were nicknamed, “Ghana Must Go“. And till date, the bags still carry the name.
The international community condemned Nigeria’s decision to expel foreigners, but a lot of people were convinced it was long coming; that Nigeria’s leaders considered it an overdue and necessary payback.
As gathered by Daily Times, many believed that the failing economy of Nigeria at the time contributed largely to the expulsion of migrants as politicians had started to use words like “aliens” in their manifestos in preparation for the 1983 general elections. They blamed African migrants, especially Ghanaians, for the failing economy. Ghanaians had taken all the jobs and brought crime to Nigeria and, if elected, they would chase them out, they promised.
It’s 2020 and we do not miss the irony that has started to play out in the past months. Questions like, “Is Ghana seeking revenge?” have started to gain traction.
The past months have seen Nigerian traders agitate and cry out for help. Nigerian traders are treated unfairly in Ghana, shops closed unjustly and heavy taxes imposed on traders.
In the midst of all these, opinions have rented the air. Some say nemesis has caught up with Nigeria. Some believe that the law of karma is at work. And some think that Ghana needs to get over it.
This reminds me of a Yoruba philosophical aphorism that opines that “a yam pounded 20 years ago can still be hot as ever”.
Well, until we get to the bottom of what is going on in Ghana at the moment, we can only speculate.
Now, that Ghana is gone! Are we going to name another bag, “Nigeria Must Go?”