When the Busia government was inaugurated, it immediately issued the expulsion order which caused the deportation of many immigrants in a manner never before attempted. The study demonstrates how the interplay of factors, such as the government ’s desire to reduce the rate of unemployment and remittances from Ghana, combat crime, guarantee the security of the country, compel immigrants to comply with the immigration law s of Ghana, control the growth of the country’s population, ensure cultural homogeneity , clear the streets of immigrant destitutes and beggars, continue the policies of the NLC, and xenophobia on the part of some Ghanaians, at least to some extent, influenced the government’s decision to issue the expulsion order. The people most affected by this Expulsion Order were the Nigerians. The numbers of Nigerians and in particular, Yoruba’s ethnic group members had drastically increased in the preceding years due to successes chalked by earlier Yoruba merchants who’ve been trading in pre-colonial Gold Coast.
The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with a critical high-level information on some of the Political dimensions, of this misguided immigration management policy and it’s effects on the migrants living in Ghana at the time. It also looks at ways in which, this policy, sowed seeds of distrust amongst fellow Africans.
Causative factors and events
Stereotypes: Kwame Nkrumah selected his close aides from amongst the Yoruba, presumably to secure the political support of the economically powerful group. In the sports sector, as a way of negotiating their citizenship, Yoruba set up or supported the Cornerstone Football Club, Kumasi; Federal United Club, Tamale; and Sunset Club, Ginjini.
Pan-Africanism: This migrant-receiving status was strengthened by Nkrumah’s foreign policy which, among other things was geared towards the promotion of Pan-Africanism. This made Ghana conscious of her role in the independence of the rest of Africa (Brydon, 1985).
Haven for freedom fighters: According to Brydon, a number of African freedom fighters and pan-Africanists entered the country, describing it as ‘a haven’ and ‘Nkrumah’s promulgation of a country-wide policy of universal primary education at that time, earned the country a reputation as a civilized state’ (Brydon, 1985:569).
CPP had maintained a liberal immigration policy: However, the period of large-scale emigration started in the 1970s and 1980s. The Convention Peoples Party (CPP) had maintained a liberal immigration policy given the party and government’s pan-Africanist ideological orientation and the concern to make Ghana the leader of African unity (Dzorgbo, 1998). This was cut short by the promulgation of the Aliens’ Compliance Order in 1969 which saw the expulsion of a large number of immigrants in Ghana in the same year. The order required of all aliens in the country to be in possession of residence permit if they did not already have it or to obtain it within a two-week period. The order earned the then Busia-led Ghanaian government the displeasure of some West African governments especially Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso whose nationals were mostly affected by the expulsion.
Other expulsions in the sub-region: Adepoju (2005:5) provides examples of some West African countries which also expelled nationals of foreign origin including Ivory Coast in 1958 and 1964, Senegal in 1967, Sierra-Leone in 1968 and Nigeria in 1983 and 1985. These examples show that a number of West African countries resorted to expulsion as an option for dealing with immigrants.
Corruption and mismanagement: As expected, all these economic difficulties, coup led with high level of corruption and mismanagement in government, caused discontentment and widespread disillusionment with the government of Busia. Therefore, faced with economic crisis and the pressure of indigenization from Ghanaian’s, the Busia government decided to introduce a number of policy measures. First, it banned non-Ghanaians from petty trading and on 19 November 1969, he announced the Expulsion of Aliens Order. These two legislations were no doubt aimed at arresting the worsening balance of payment deficit and reduce capital flight through remittances sent home by immigrant workers and traders from their earnings 54 . With Ghana’s continued economic misfortunes, the Government and popular press really had no difficulty turning to aliens as scapegoats for their malaise. Aliens were blamed not only for specifically economic ills of holding jobs which Ghanaians could do and thus contributing to increasing rates of unemployment and milking the country of cash through sending out of remittances, but also were seen as having an adverse moral influence on the native. In particular, they were held responsible for the high urban incidence of crime and prostitution.
On 19 November, 1969, the government of Ghana made an announcement that it would enforce the Aliens Compliance Order by which all aliens without valid residence permit were ordered to quit the co untry within fourteen days, that is, latest by 2 December , 1969. The Quit Order which was promulgated by the Kofi Busia’s government earlier on Tuesday, 18 November, 1969 stated that:
- It has come to the notice of the Government that several aliens, both Africans and non-Africans in Ghana, do not possess the requisite residence permits in conformity with the laws of Ghana. There are others, too, who are engaging in business of all kinds contrary to the term of their visiting The Government has accordingly directed that all aliens in the first category, that is those without residence permits, should leave Ghana within fourteen days that is not later than December 2, 1969. Those in the second category should obey strictly the term of their entry permits, and if these have expired they should leave Ghana forthwith. The Ministry of Interior has been directed to comb the country thoroughly for de faulting aliens and aliens arrested for contravening these orders will be deal t with according to the law.
Though the Ghanaian government embarked on the expulsion of aliens to purge the number of “undesirable elements” in the country, the expulsion order was not without exemption. Hence, the order added that:
- Special cases of persons who though Aliens were born in Ghana and have lived in the country all their lives and lost contact with their countries of origin as well as persons who though not born but have lived in Ghana many years will be considered each on its merits provided they are of good behaviour and are gainfully employed.
Meanwhile, official explanations for the expulsion as offered by the Government of Ghana included the following:
- That there were about 600,000 registered unemployed in Ghana, which would be relieved by the expulsion of the aliens;
- That the continuing balance of payment deficit was worsened by immigrant workers and traders who remitted home some of their earnings; and
- That the aliens engaged in smuggling, especially of diamonds.
Judging from the above, T.C. McCaskie has observed that the Expulsion Order, which mostly affected Nigerians, was ostensibly designed to achieve three main objectives namely to;
- restore the economy to Ghanaians;
- “purify” the country; and
- curb lawlessness and crime”.
A cursory look at the above submissions reveals that the expulsion order was promulgated to achieve about four key objectives. These were to:
- Generate more employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed Ghanaian nationals;
- Arrest the worsening balance of payment deficit; due to remittances sent home by immigrant workers and traders from their earnings;
- Curb the economic sabotage of smuggling by aliens, especially diamond, and;
- Rid the country of lawlessness and crime perpetrated largely by aliens.
Immigration Control under the Colonialists:
The British colonial administration was the first to introduce immigration regulations into Ghana, thereby introducing Ghanaians, and for that matter Africans, to terminologies such as citizen , alien , migrant , immigrant , emigrant , etc. Some of the measures the colonial authorities devised dealt with citizenship and, thus, established the nationality of the inhabitants of Ghana as against those who were not indigenes of the land. Such measures comprised t he British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act of 1914, 1918, 1922 and 1933, the Aliens Ordinance of 1925 and 1935, the Naturalisation Regulations of 1933, the Statute Law Revision Act of 1933, and the British Nationality Act of 1948. These measures made a distinction between “natives” and “non – natives.” The latter supposedly comprised members of groups which territorially lay outside the boundaries of Ghana. However, the term “native” was legally defined as “British subjects or protected persons”, and by implication, they included any persons born in territories under the dominion of the British Crown. 1 The term „native‟ was even given a broader connotation to refer to all persons ordinarily resident in any territory in West Africa under Britain, France, Spain, P ortugal, and in the Belgian Congo, the Mandated Territories in West Africa, Liberia, Fernando Po and Sao Tome. 2 Obviously, Ghanaian citizenship was not clearly defined; therefore, any British subjects, irrespective of their race and country of origin, coul d freely and legally move to and reside as well as work in any territory under the British, including Ghana.
Other colonial devices, such as the Immigrant Paupers Ordinance of 1909, 1912 and 1919, the European and Asiatic Passengers Restriction Ordinance o f 1912, the Regulation of Immigrants Ordinance of 1914, the Immigration of Laborers Restriction Ordinance of 1916 and 1917, the Immigration Restriction Ordinance of 1925, 1926 and 1927, the Immigration Restriction (Amendment) Ordinance of 1937, the Immigrant British Subjects (Deportation) Ordinance of 1945, and the Immigration Ordinance of 1947, imposed restrictions on immigration into Ghana. However, since peoples in non – British territories were also regarded as natives‟, the restrictions imposed on immigration, therefore, did not apply to such categories of people, and this armed them with the right of residence and work in Ghana.