Narrated by Nwafor Akajiofo
and Kizito Ikechukwu Obiora
Since the enactment of anti-foreigners retail business law by the Ghanaian government, the Igbo community resident in that country has been living in fear, embarrassment and deprivation.
Revelations gathered from eye witnesses, Family Writers Press can confirm that Igbos living in Ghana and particularly, those of them involved in spare parts business concerns are the prime targets. At Suame-Magazine district of Kumasi, Ghana, the enforcement of the law has extra-judicially been driven by overzealous Ghanaians, thereby massively creating xenophobic restiveness amongst the Igbo populace within the vicinity.
It is reported thus: "For two weeks now, they have forced us to stay indoors. We cannot go to our businesses. You cannot even dare go close to your shops. If we try it, the youths of Suame-Magazine promised to loot and burn down our shops. They want us to give them all our goods on credit and leave empty handed", Mr. Nwafor Akajiofo told Family Writers Press on telephone interview.
Success they say breeds jealousy and that is principally the root of this latest tension that has evolved between the Ghanaian businessmen and their Igbo Biafran counterparts. The chairman of Igbo traders union in Suame-Magazine, Mr. Kizito Ikechukwu Obiora confided in our correspondent that "the so-called retail law is just a subtle way of expressing their jealousness over our successes. The law is not affecting the Hausa-Fulani community in Alaba, Kumasi. It is not affecting Yoruba businessmen either in Abuabo, Kumasi. The only place the law is being enforced is in Suame-Magazine where there is a huge presence of Ndigbo who are into motor spare parts businesses".
Mr. Kizito maintained that "Ghanaians are not happy. We came here and showed them that one can become a millionaire by dealing on motor spare parts. They now have mastery of the business and want us to leave in other for them to eliminate all competition and dominate the market. That is the truth of the matter".
WHAT THEN IS THE POSITION OF THE GHANAIAN GOVERNMENT?
The Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Investment was recently in Abuja, Nigeria, and in his meeting with Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema, he pointed out that the said anti-retail law promulgated in his country, does not affect citizens from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). But the fact remains that Nigerians and particularly Igbo Biafrans are the prime targets. Igbo businesses appear realistically jeopardised in the whole drama. Mr. Kizito Ikechukwu Obiora and Mr. Nwafor Akajiofo respectively, expressed their displeasure at the way Ghanian Security Operatives are working in concert with the Suame youths. "Three days ago, the youths matched in their numbers to Joe Obi's shop who is a close relative to the Secretary to the Imo State Government. He traveled home in Nigeria and entrusted his shop into the hands of his workers. These Ghanaian youths beat up everyone they found there and brazenly looted the shop. And directly located just opposite Obi's shop, is another shop owned by a Lebanese businessman. It was carefully left untouched. We have businesses yet in this particular location owned by citizens of other African countries and nobody attacked them neither were their shops/goods touched, except that of the Igbo businessmen", they further lamented.
"Few years ago, when this type of thing happened, we put up a call to an official of the Nigerian Embassy. Despite promising to work with the Police here to provide protection, the Embassy official and the Nigerian Ambassador who is a Yorubaman, shamelessly and disappointedly made us to understand that we are on our own. We got their message loud and clear. For two weeks running, we cannot even move few kilometers near our shops. We on our own, had to conduct midnight trips as adopted security measures to our shops to retrieve our few wares (goods) left unlooted. Both the Ghanaian youths and their elders in this location, insist that we should leave. They maintained that even if we reached agreement with the Ghanaian government, they will continue to harass, embarrass and set our shops ablaze until we consent. We need help my brother, we most certainly need help", Mr. Nwafor Akajiofo told Family Writers Press correspondent.