By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
It has become disturbingly clear in the last couple of weeks that there are Ghanaians back home who would not hesitate to offer themselves, and even their very families and relatives, as slaves to Nigerians if they deemed the price to be right. One such reprobate Ghanaian is Dr. Kobby Mensah, the lecturer at the University of Ghana’s Business School.
In the wake of the all-too-righteous pulling down of garish hoardings, or billboards, promoting some specific presidential candidates in the upcoming Nigerian general election, Dr. Mensah was reported to have advised the leaders of the Advertisers Association of Ghana (AAG) to take the Mayor of Accra and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to court (See “Nigerian Billboards: Advertisers Should Sue AMA – Lecturer” Public Agenda 2/1/15).
Maybe someone ought to inform the likes of Dr. Mensah that the territorial integrity of Ghana precludes our country from being used as a theatrical adjunct or an electioneering campaign outpost of Nigeria. Indeed, it comes as a great shock for me to learn that otherwise highly educated Ghanaians like Dr. Mensah should be making such inexcusably lame argument as there not existing any law in Ghana prohibiting resident Nigerian nationals from mounting billboards that seek to promote partisan Nigerian politics in Ghana.
Needless to say, were these billboards mounted exclusively in predominantly Nigerian-resident communities, a legitimate case could be made for their public display. On the other hand, if these billboards were mounted in neutral public and non-residential spaces such that they assaulted the sensibilities of disinterested Ghanaians, as well as the sensibilities of other law-abiding resident non-Ghanaians with absolutely no interest in partisan Nigerian politics, whatsoever, then, clearly, these billboards were in gross violation of our nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
If there are Nigerian residents in Ghana who own private radio and television stations, as well as Internet media websites specifically targeted towards the patronage of these communities then, unquestionably, these were the most appropriate forums/fora for such niche political advertising. In other words, the arguments bordering on such foreign political advertising ought not to have centered around the question of whether the Boko Haram terrorist organization was not being unwisely invited to cause mayhem in Ghana, for I am quite certain that these militant Islamist radicals know far better than to make any lunatic attempt to open a wider front than they could handle in Ghana, in both the short and long term.
Then also, the ROPAL argument does not hold water here; and it is not clear why Dr. Mensah chose to rope it into this argument on our sovereignty and territorial integrity. The fact of the matter is that Ghanaians resident here in the United States, who singularly spearheaded the passage of the Representation of the People’s Amendment Law, did not go about indiscriminately mounting billboards even at New York City’s Tracey Towers, for instance, merely because we wanted our presence and peculiar political proclivities and aspirations felt by our non-Ghanaian American neighbors.
Of course, the Nigerian High Commission to Ghana could have allowed its landed and other real-estate properties to be used in promoting that country’s upcoming elections, if that country’s High Commissioner /Ambassador felt so strongly about the imperative need to promote partisan Nigerian politics among his fellow nationals resident in Ghana. Likewise, any Nigerian resident in Ghana who felt strongly about the exercise of his/her franchise in the break-neck contest between President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and former junta dictator Gen. Mahamadu Buhari, could have hopped onto the next KIA flight to Abuja or Lagos to fulfill such inalienable wish.
To say the least, it is insufferably nauseating to hear any Nigerian diplomat or High Commissioner presume to lecture Ghanaians on what our laws permit or do not permit vis-a-vis foreign political advertising in the country.