Below is a letter from the Ghana High Commission in Nigeria to a Nigerian newspaper, appealing to Nigerian government officials to refrain from spreading falsehood about Ghana.
SIR: I am compelled to write to express serious concern about a couple of statements by some top Nigerian officials about Ghana in recent weeks. Last month, Defence Minister Godwin Abbe was quoted as saying, "the volume of water generated in Ghana is not enough to flush toilets in Lagos State, the number of teachers you have to pay salaries in the whole of Ghana is not more than Western Nigeria so that is that. And the whole of Ghanaian Armed Forces, if you choose to know, is not more than just two brigades of the Nigerian Armed Forces, period."
Only last weekend, Education Minister Sam Egwu was on national radio talking about the ongoing ASUU strike, and he made the most ridiculous assertion that all the university lecturers in Ghana will not be adequate for a single university in Nigeria! This is a blatant falsehood. Anyone who had been to the University of Ghana Legon (with a student population of more than 40,000), can testify to the fact that probably no university in Nigeria has more space and facilities than Legon. And there are at least five more public universities in Ghana. There are also a dozen privately-owned universities in Ghana, offering quality education to Ghanaians and foreigners alike, including a growing number of Nigerians.
And in the case of the defence minister, we do not know where he got his information from regarding the current strength of the Ghana armed forces. Needless to say that the Ghanaian military is one of the best trained on the continent and had performed exceptionally well in various international assignments. The entire first generation of Nigerian military officers, including Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, Hassan Katsina and Adebayo were all trained in Ghana. Ghanaian army generals have commanded UN troops in Lebanon, Liberia, Rwanda, Darfur, etc over the years.
Information Minister Dora Akunyili also told a local television network at the end of August that the whole of Ghana is not even up to the size of Lagos! Even a child in kindergarten knows that to be untrue. Government officials, unlike private citizens, traditionally tend to be circumspect about what they say about other countries. Ghana is smaller than Nigeria, and I reckon everyone knows that as a fact. And it is certainly not the only country in the world that is smaller than Nigeria. Or is it? Or have Nigerian government officials only suddenly realised how 'small' Ghana is?
Our concern really is that such reckless and unguarded comments could have grave implications for bilateral relations and derail efforts by leaders of the two countries to forge strong bilateral ties. We think President Umaru Yar'Adua should call his ministers to order. The Ghana bashing must stop! Ghana is a well-respected member of the international community, and deserves respect from Nigerians, particularly top government officials.
Nana Yaw Aboagye, Ghana High Commission, Abuja, FCT Tools