By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
News reports that the number of Ghanaians renouncing their Ghanaian citizenship and re-engineering themselves as citizens of other countries don’t surprise me at all. Naturalization is a common practice that will persist for as long as human beings migrate from one region to the other, motivated by diverse reasons, and become convinced that the new circumstances in which they find themselves can help them realize their aspirations. Nothing can stop it and anybody raising alarm over what has just been revealed in the case of Ghanaians will be wasting time.
The Ministry of the Interior has revealed that about 817 Ghanaians renounced their citizenship in 2013 while 39 foreigners applied to be Ghanaians. According to the Ministry, 538 applied for German citizenship, 233 for Dutch, 32 for Norwegian, 7 for Danish, 5 for Austrian, and 1 for Hong Kongian and Chinese citizenship each. Out of the 817, females numbered 450 and males 367. This revelation was made in Accra on Monday when the Ministry took its turn in the meet-the-press series addressed by the sector Minister, Kwesi Ahwoi.
Nothing was said about other countries, especially the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, and the Arab world, which attract Ghanaians. The fact is that Ghanaians are leaving the country in drones, going wherever their personal compasses will direct them n search for the beacon of hope to make it in life.
Neither has the Ministry considered the other aspects such as Ghanaians seeking higher education/professional training and not wanting to return home to serve the country (Thousands all over the world). Many factors account for this situation.
Why are they doing so in droves? Your guess will be as good as mine. As the Ministry of the Interior put it, “The Ghanaians stated among other things, good economic conditions, high wages and salaries and other incentives associated with their profession in their countries of choice as reasons for their exit from Ghana.” Certainly, factors motivating the renunciation of their Ghanaian citizenship include better service conditions; but there is more to the matter.
And they are highly skilled professionals (health workers, doctors and all those who find it very easy to work anywhere but their own country of origin). The Director of Migration at the Ministry of the Interior, David Agorsor, described the situation as “alarming”.
Renouncing Ghanaian citizenship shouldn’t be alarming. What should alarm us are the factors that catalyze the emigration and consequent decision to renounce Ghanaian citizenship. And these factors are enormous:
(1) The general malaise in the Ghanaian system spawns horrible service conditions that won’t encourage those with skills to remain in the country when they know they can earn better remuneration elsewhere.
(2) The mismanagement of affairs by the authorities appalls those who know better how to actualize their dreams.
(3) Government’s failure to provide a congenial atmosphere for those with skills to serve their country is disgusting. We take account of the spate of industrial actions that continue to be taken in pursuit of better remuneration and condemn the government for its laziness.
(4) The Ghanaian attitude of looking for the fruit of labour and not putting in labour to generate it (the easy-way-out) is a major aspect of the attitudinal problems that drive the brain-drain, leading to one’s not wanting to remain a Ghanaian citizen once outside the country.
(5) Lack of support from the institutions of state, which frustrates both skilled and unskilled Ghanaians who must make ends meet no matter where they may be.
(6) Scholarships not offered and supported (e.g., Cuban students’ experience)—no motivation to return home after seeing better things elsewhere. The Ghanaian who knows what to do to survive elsewhere will do everything possible to acquire a new status.
(7) No plan to accommodate Ghanaians with skills who may want to return home. We know that other systems that can use the skills of Ghanaians will readily accommodate their interests and grab them.
(8) The government is lazy and lacks the vision to create a labour pool to attract Ghanaians with professional skills. Other countries know how to do things. For instance, China sends 400,000 of its students to the US for training annually so they can return home and join the labour pool; India does so to cope with the demands of outsourcing.
(9) No programme to “sell” the labour of skilled Ghanaians, contrary to what other countries do. For instance, Egypt benefits from its citizens working outside and contributing their quota of earnings toward national development as a national network exists to accommodate the interests of those citizens working outside.
(10) What has become of the dual citizenship initiative that could help Ghanaians shuttle between home and abroad as dual citizens? Nothing!! The government is not being honest in its dealings with the citizens and will not help solve problems with this kind of duplicity.
Folks, there are many other reasons to explain and justify the trend. Ghanaians will do anything they can to realize their ambitions in life if conditions at home remain hostile and repellent. I don’t blame anybody choosing to renounce his or her Ghanaian citizenship because naturalization is a given. Those who want to go where their aspirations take them should do so without any inhibition. After all, this world is not our home; we are just passing through as sojourners.
If the government really wants to ensure that Ghanaians remain Ghanaians, then, it should do its best to solve problems and build structures to accommodate them. Otherwise, no amount of scare-mongering with the kind of revelation made by the Ministry of the Interior will deter Ghanaians from renouncing their Ghanaian citizenship.
As I have once said, there is no part of the world where one will go without coming across a Ghanaian; and that Ghanaian will do anything at all within his or her means to serve that particular system, provided that service will be appreciated and accommodation made for him or her. That is what is lacking in Ghana, which infuriates. Service to one’s country often turns out to be one’s undoing. Who will want to remain in such a system? Not those who know where they can get their bread buttered.
The unfortunate sequel, though, is that as Ghanaians leave their country, other foreign nationals fill the gap and do things with impunity, as the Chinese undesirables are doing without any attempt by the government to deal with them. The time will come when Ghanaians will become second-class citizens in their own country, thanks to our leaders’ incompetence and lack of vision. Let those who don’t want to be Ghanaians anymore go their way. Only those in charge of affairs not solving the problems facilitating the renunciation of Ghanaian citizenship will be alarmed. And they are a mockery!! Tweeeeeeeeeeeeeaaa!!
I shall return…