The Muhammadu Buhari fever is not limited to Nigeria. The name of the retired General generally tipped by most Ghanaians to win the Nigerian polls, is on the lips of most Nigerians resident in Ghana.
As for Goodluck Jonathan, his luck appears to have waned with most Ghanaians, including Nigerians resident here not giving him any dog’s chance of retaining power. His name is now a byword for corruption and insecurity among both Nigerians and Ghanaians.
Nigerian politics is being played out in Ghana with an unusual gusto. Most Nigerians domiciled here support the opposition, All People’s Congress (APC) led by the retired General who is riding the waves effortlessly.
For the Nigerian supporters of the APC, their decision is informed by their burning desire to see the widespread corruption endemic to Nigeria reduced to the barest minimum, especially in public service.
It is difficult to decipher why most New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters are supporting the APC. Perhaps they are doing so because both are opposition parties with a common mission to replace the incumbent governments in their various countries.
Nigerians In Ghana
Many Nigerians who spoke to the DAILY GUIDE as the time for the March election date draws near said security is the main factor for their support for the APC.
One of them, a certain Mustapha Adamu who hails from Kano but has resided in Accra for the past two decades or so, told this paper, ‘We have observed with great despondency the inability of the Goodluck Jonathan government to deal with the insecurity that has gripped Nigeria for the past six years. We think that only a man with General Muhammadu Buhari’s pedigree can pull the brakes on the Boko Haram insurgency.’
Yusif Aremu, who hails from Kwara State said, ‘Goodluck Jonathan is a drowning man who would hold at the available straw in a useless bid to survive the approaching Armageddon. He should not try subverting the will of the majority of the Nigerian people. He should just hand over the reins of government to the APC when the election results are declared, to avert unnecessary bloodshed.’
Fourth Generation Nigerians
Besides migrants from Nigeria living in Ghana, there are fourth generation Nigerians, some of them offspring of Ghanaian and Nigerian parentage who also prefer a Buhari win.
Unlike in previous elections when Yorubas belonged mainly to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), this large ethnic grouping has swung to the APC, their reasons being no different from the ones aforementioned.
Ghanaians themselves have never shown so much interest in Nigerian elections as they are doing the forthcoming one.
The phobia for Boko Haram and the spill-over effect of the insurgency into other countries such as Ghana, has influenced the support of most Ghanaians for Buhari who, like their Nigerian counterparts, have lost confidence in Goodluck Jonathan’s ability to deal with the security threat.
The two Anglophone countries have been closely knit over the years – both from the Colonial Office in Britain.
Nigerian soldiers brought into the Gold Coast by Captain Glover (RN) – otherwise referred to as Captain Glovers 600 Hausas – formed the nucleus of today’s Ghana Armed Forces and the Police – the latter carved out of the former by an ordinance of 1894.
Hausa, a Nigerian language, is one of the common languages in Ghana with assorted variants. There is a saying that a town without a Zongo – a settlement peopled by Hausas – is not worth staying in. That shows the extent of the distribution of Hausas in Ghana. Tracing their ancestry to places like Kano, Sokoto, Katsina and others, these Ghanaians with Nigerian ancestry are still linked to their ancestral home. They listen to the BBC Hausa Service for news about Nigeria daily. The BBC has a correspondent in Accra, Idi Ali, a Ghanaian with Nigerian ancestry. The Buhari factor is entrenched in such settlements.
A security row erupted last year when for the first time in the history of Nigerian politics PDP activists erected large expensive billboards of their party on ceremonial streets in Accra.
Vociferous Ghanaians, most of them showing great aversion for the development, did not conceal their angst when they condemned the action, attracting the attention of the authorities.
The billboards were pulled down after their short-lived show on the selected and choice locations. Someone quipped, ‘The billboards were infected with the Goodluck Jonathan contagion.’
Not long after that episode a group of Nigerians resident in Accra organized a rally at the Mantse Agbonaa Grounds – a popular square at Jamestown, Accra. It is instructive observing that those who were opposed to the erection of the billboards of political parties from Nigeria said if the phenomenon was not stopped very soon Ghanaians would witness the holding of political rallies by Nigerian parties.
Observers wondered why permission was given for the PDP rally to take place in Accra. They eventually attributed it to an authorization from the local establishment with whom the PDP is said to have struck a chord.
Stories from the wire services related to the Nigerian polls easily find space on the foreign pages of local newspapers with the boko haram insurgency also following on the scale of preference of news editors.
The postponement of the polls to the March date disturbed Nigerians as much as it did Ghanaians as both read various conspiracy theories into the action.
The head of the independent electoral commission of Nigeria has won affection among observers of that country’s electoral system in Ghana. An attempt to cause his retirement was for instance, considered as a tendentious aberration peculiar to drowning presidents by cynics in Ghana.
Many Ghanaians, especially the opposition NPP hungry, almost starving for electoral reforms as they point at a bloated electoral register, could not hold their excitement when they learnt about the changes which had been introduced into the Nigerian electoral system at the eleventh hour.
News filtering in from Nigeria indicate that there have been critical reforms in the electoral system in that country, one of them being the introduction of a card reader system which demands that a voter swipes a card before proceeding for a verification and eventual voting ritual.
In her recent letter to the BBC, a regular feature of the international network, Elizabeth Ohene one-time senior personnel of the corporation who is also a leading member of the NPP, pointed at the similarities between the two countries.
She recalled how things which happen in Nigeria invariably take place in Ghana.
Barely three years after the attainment of independence by Ghana in 1957 Nigeria followed suit in 1960, she recalled.
She recalled also how the two countries toppled their first indigenous post-independence governments and similar episodes.
The governments of the two countries are fighting tooth and nail to retain power in the face of growing discontent among their citizens; their listing economies particularly being the factors for their troubles.
Jonathan’s Bad Luck
With the polls date just a stone-throw away, it would be difficult for Jonathan’s good luck to save him from the approaching wind of change set to remove him from his Abuja base, especially as any attempt to postpone the date further could be a recipe for chaos in an already restive country.
By A.R. Gomda
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