In April 1985, the Nigeria government made good their threat of sending Ghanainans without valid papers back to their home land. Many have made the 300-mile trip from Lagos to Accra, Ghana’s capital, as human cargo of sorts, tightly packed in huge trucks. The Nigerian authorities had given aliens until May 10 to obtain residence permits or leave.
Home officials said about 62,000 Ghanaians had arrived since Nigeria announced the expulsion plan in mid-April. The number is far short of the 300,000 Ghanaians believed to have been working in Nigeria. Some officials and returning Ghanaians said many were still stranded in Nigeria, unable to pay for their transportation home.
This is the brief story behind the now popular slogan *”Ghana must Go!!* They left but promised to return someday. Since 1985 till date, the Ghanaians have taken time to improve their economy, their currency (cedis) is now stronger than the Nigeria naira and their economy is growing daily with rapid pace
On the field of play, Ghana remains a big rival. Any football match involving Nigeria and their West African neighbors has always turned out a fierce battle that leaves behind bitter and sweet memories. It is sweet for the winners and bitter for the losers.
On March 25 in Kumasi and March 29 in Abuja, these two rivals will return to the battle field, armed with their best footballers, encouraged by their ever resilient supporters and motivated by the gods to fight for one of five playoff tickets at stake in the buildup to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Over a hundred spirits have risen from neighboring towns, brandishing their most potent voodoo, set for the journey to Kumasi, a land described as the ancestral slaughter ground of the Black stars of Ghana.
Between the two countries, Ghana looks more charged up for this one. The people and the government are united for victory. The FA has been motivated in cash and kind, the players have been reminded of the importance of this match, their fans have started rehearsing new songs, men and women have painted.themselves in national colours, the ambiance looks perfect for football, the atmosphere is electrifying and everyone seem focused and ready.
The team list was delayed till one week to the big match, they have taken time to weed out the bad eggs and have retained the committed and patriotic soldiers desperate to write their names in gold.
Losing at the Baba Yara stadium happens ones in a blue moon for the Black Stars. Every Ghanaian player is reminded of the need to spill a blood and die for fatherland.
A special drum sits at the far corner of the stadium, the drummer beats the drum to provoke the gods and at some point the air at the Kumasi sports complex is filtered. Players and spectators start inhaling unpleasant odor and with it, comes a heavy breeze and smoke.
On my first visit in 2008, I suddenly became dizzy, dazed and weak in the stands. The opposition gets weakened but the home team seem to have an antidote to this. They become more energetic, more enthusiastic and more motivated to play.
Their fans sing and dance for the duration of the match and after the game, the smoke disappears, the odor varnishes and the atmosphere becomes conducive again.
This is just painting a mind picture of what to expect in Kumasi on D-day. It is never going to be a brotherly affair.
Back home, the preparation has been shoddy and funny. Perhaps, because everyone is relaxed after watching the way Ghana went out of the last AFCON.
Interim coach Augustine Eguaveon was seen on pilgrimage to different states in Nigeria. He was also caught on camera sitting by players agents as he embarked on a funny tour that gave birth to the invitation of tired Onazi and recuperating Etebo.
In the last two weeks, Eguaveon has offered over fifty interviews to more than fifty media houses, he has touched on too many irrelevant issues and has made little or no efforts at convincing his worst critics.
Two weeks ago he was with some ex internationals in Maiduguri eating and clapping and then when it mattered, with just days to the first leg of the playoffs in Kumasi, Nigeria’s best midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi of Liecester City got injured and in come, uninvited Innocent Bonke ahead of Ogenyi Onazi who was on standby.
As If that was not enough, Nigeria’s number one golkeeper, Maduka Okoye also got injured and Enyimba of Aba second choice goalkeeper, John Noble was called up in his place, leaving out the inform, first choice goalkeeper, Olorunleke Ojo.
Crazy you may want to say but this is Nigeria were anything goes, where ex internationals have suddenly turned politicians and are now prayer warriors for an octogenarian who wants to sign out as president of Nigeria.
Weep not for Nigeria because over one hundred stakeholders from the opposition party, are united in prayers, hoping that the Super Eagles do not qualify for the World Cup. Some of them are in the present NFF board. They wish we qualify in the open and pray we don’t in their closets as they desperately seek to dethrone the present NFF president in September this year during the much awaited NFF Elective Congress.
It is a tale of many sides, a book of many pages. This two legged affairs will make or Mar many things. It will heal old would or open fresh ones. If could draw down the rains of happiness or bring forth fire of destruction.
A people already divided in their thoughts and prayers may finally bring out their weapons for war.