Raucous Shouts of ‘akwaaba’ rent through the air; the US President Barack Obama had finally come through the Kotoka airport met the parliamentarians and reconciled Michele with her ancient roots and all the way the large street-cheering crowds were ecstatic. Ghana’s media was painted red before and on D-day. ‘Welcome home’ they all seemed to chorus. Akin to the triumphant entry, scenes around Accra must have drawn greenish gawks and blushes from Africa’s de facto king of kings; AU’s and Libya’s Muammar Ghaddafi.
On the flip side, Obama’s visit to Ghana has polarised the continent. Like biblical Joseph’s hydra headed envious siblings, sub Saharan Africa is in stupefaction over Obama’s choice of Ghana. The bitter undigested pill is Ghana is neither the same country where Michael Jackson infamously covered his snout behind tinted glasses lest he be plagued by the Spanish flu during a tour in the early 90s nor is it marked with the ragged poverty striped jute bags that flooded Nigeria in droves in the eighties in search of greener pasture.
Everything Ghana is today Nigeria and the remainder of sub Saharan Africa’s jealous siblings are far away from. Listen to Obama.“Ghana represents a functional democratic system with Institutions that work for the people.” 5 successive elections in Ghana have engendered the spawning of the idyllic dividends of democracy. With consternation many local civil rights groups had responded to May 29th; Nigeria’s democracy day. Then Nigeria’s media was awash with congratulatory messages heralding 10 years of uninterrupted democracy .In retrospect it would have been more laudable if those messages had aped similar messages broadcast in the Gold coast a few years back-one year of uninterrupted power supply.
The debilitating power situation in Nigeria has attained mythical levels. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo ludicrously advocated spiritual healing in dealing with the power demons that threatens to shut down Nigeria’s flailing economy. But the demons that hex Nigeria’s weak infrastructure are corruption and mismanagement; demons that have transmuted potholes to pit holes leading to thousands of on highways in major cities. Obama’s sobering speech in Ghana would scorch the threadbare fabric of Nigeria’s soul when he says Ghana has shown it is serious in reducing corruption which is evident in its real economic gains. Corruption is the enervating aeon that nourishes and fêtes the personae of governance in Nigeria. Convicted and accused political leaders wash their hands in spittle dining unashamedly with the central government; enjoying the broad media limelight; perks mean economic and political salvation. This modern day buccaneering which has come at a social cost- soaring apathy and frustration among its populace with a jaundiced central government.
An 80s hit blared through a giant speaker at Oshodi, on my way to work; ‘weytin dey for Shokoto’ a reminder that state governors seeking for knowledge in the prestigious Harvard University could instead go as the crow flies to Ghana and take effective Pol. 101 lectures. And who knows five years from now Nigeria may have yet taken the most important lesson from Obama’s visit when he re-echoed age-long wisdom saying that Africa has no reason not to be self sufficient when it comes to food.
And like the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King Junior we may one day proselyte that Nigeria shall live up to the true meaning of its creed, as it channels the world’s population to its borders in search of fine grains, paralleling Joseph in his important role as preserver of his family and ultimately the human race.