Andrews Maxford: Tinubu Era – Prospects for Ghana-Nigeria relations
Over the years, Ghana and Nigeria have had long-standing relationship and competed and collaborated in various areas and fields of endeavour including politics, socio-cultural, trade, creative arts, security and sports, among others.
Prior to the election in Nigeria, I mentioned in an earlier article titled “Nigeria Elections: Implications for Ghana and Africa”, that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s foreign policy was hinged on the basis that “To be fully secure at home, Nigeria has always believed it must be the brothers’ keeper; that the broad principles that enabled successive Nigerian governments to interface development and security, and establish an organic link between national security and economic development with regional peace and prosperity is both impeccable and remains relevant”, representing an idealistic worldview.
The prospects for Ghana-Nigeria relations after the election of the former Lagos State Governor as Nigeria’s 16th President are uncertain given that Nigeria is the sixth-most populous country in the world and Africa’s most populous country, located in West Africa.
This country has a population of over 225 million and is made up of 36 states. Its economy is also described as an emerging market and developing economy in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) most recent World Economic Outlook Growth Projections.
Nigeria continues to have the largest economy in Africa with a GDP of $506.6 billion in current prices. As a result, the choice to establish meaningful guidelines and framework for trade between the two countries in crucial industries and sectors will prove crucial and go a long way to strengthening bilateral ties and boosting the economies of both countries.
Considering Nigeria’s recent rank of 21st position in the 2022 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance in terms of Foundations for Economic Opportunity, and rank of 126th in the Economic Complexity Index (ECI -1.56) compared to Ghana’s rank of 7th position in the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance and rank of 118th in the Economic Complexity Index (ECI -1.27), with total exports of USD14.1billion, strategic partnership with Ghana will go a long way to indicate Nigeria’s preparedness to usher-in a new era of economic growth agenda as well as the transformation of Africa.
For Ghana, this will also help address and resolve recent challenges of the participation of Nigerians in retail or local trade, a challenge which has led to diplomatic tensions between both nations in recent years.
Security and Defence Cooperation
Also, the advent of the new Tinubu Administration can help foster closer relations between Ghana and Nigeria in the area of security, and help usher a new era of Security and Defence Cooperation between both countries.
Considering Ghana and Nigeria’s status as leaders in the sub-region, and rank of 11th and 36th respectively in the 2022 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Ghana and Nigeria have huge prospects and the potential to forge greater alliance in the areas of security and the rule of law to ensure maximum safety and defence of the people of both nations.
If properly done, this could lead to the emergence of a standing Army or Force in Africa to prevent conflicts and/or wars and ensure stability on the Continent.
Joint Investment in Critical Institutions
The establishment of crucial institutions for various purposes, such as refugee and humanitarian agencies to carry out and provide humanitarian support services and assistance to displaced persons, among others, is another area Ghana and Nigeria could engage in joint investment and partnership to ensure improved leadership in the sub-region and continent.
Due to the recent refugee crisis brought on by the violence in South Sudan and Sudan, African nations frequently need to rely on and receive assistance from international organisations such as the United Nations Refugee Agency, (UNHCR), NATO and other western or European countries.
Also, this was seen in Libya during and in the wake of the death of Colonel Muammar Al Gaddafi. Economic downturn, sickness, and starvation are frequently caused by the absence of appropriate institutions that can handle refugee and humanitarian crises brought on by armed conflict. After Syria and Afghanistan, South Sudan is today the third largest refugee crisis in the world, with 63 percent of South Sudanese Refugees under the age of 18.
Where are Africa’s Security, Refugee and Humanitarian Agencies? Indeed, just like we have with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the coming to force of the AfCFTA for the entire African continent, we could develop similar sub-regional and Continental Security, Refugee, Humanitarian and Intelligence Agencies; and Ghana and Nigeria could lead this effort.
Furthermore, as seen during the “reconstruction of the world” with the creation of the IMF and World Bank, Ghana and Nigeria could lead efforts to create critical economic institutions that undertake research into generating continental investment opportunities, data collection, and monitoring, evaluation and reporting of economic performances.
Similar institutions must also exist to monitor performances in tertiary and other higher educational institutions. If Africa and particularly Ghana and Nigeria are to achieve sustained economic growth and development, then development of institutions with the requisite capacity and knowledge to address challenges relating to funding, infrastructure and development of Africa’s human resources must be top priority.
In conclusion, as noted by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, an admiral in the United States Navy who directed the original development of naval nuclear propulsion and controlled its operations for three decades as director of the U.S. Naval Reactors office, “Good ideas are not adopted automatically.
They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience. Once implemented they can be easily overturned or subverted through apathy or lack of follow-up, so a continuous effort is required.”
For Ghana and Nigeria to lead the way and become beacons of hope, democracy and development, and as advanced societies in the sub-region and continent, a conscious effort is required. As such, the election of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (The Jagaban) coupled with his foreign policy ideals presents a unique opportunity for Nigeria to address once and for all issues of insecurity, banditry, insurgency, corruption, and the twin-challenges of unemployment and economic hardships. In doing so, Ghana could be a reliable partner!
The writer, Andrews Joojo Maxford, has background in Management Studies from the University of Cape Coast, and is an economic policy analyst, researcher, evaluator and student of defence and international politics. Andrews has a Master of Arts degree in Economic Policy Management from the University of Ghana; and currently pursuing Master of Science degree in Defence and International Politics at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (GAFCSC). Andrews has interest in Leadership and Governance, Foreign Policy and Public Policy Formulation and Implementation, and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.