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Nigeria - Ghana relations can be traced back to the colonial days when both countries were under the colonial yoke of Britain. That relationship was to grow stronger given the experience of the then two colonies during the slave trade era. Their citizens were carted away to Europe and America where they worked in plantations, having lost their liberty. It is worthy to note that, Nigeria was greatly inspired to continue the fight for self - determination, haven seen Ghana rung the freedom bell in 1957. Since then, Nigeria has always taken after Ghana in Area of sports, education, industry, and mining etc. until their relationship became strained in the latter years. However, in the 1980's, Nigeria - Ghana relations suffered a significant setback. About 1 Million Ghanaians who came to Nigeria without valid papers were branded illegal immigrants and deported enemas. This act earned Nigeria a very bad name especially in the western press, and this also affected the face of Nigeria considering Africa as the Centre of piece of her foreign policy. Nevertheless, with the restoration of democratic rule in Nigeria in 1999, Nigeria became once again a member of the International Community. This re-entry was a more re-assuring stand in Nigeria's Foreign Policy to continue its "Big Brother" role in both regional and international affairs. Suffice to say that, since 1999 Nigeria has co-operated with Ghana in a quite number of areas such as bilateral trade agreements, telecommunications, defense, regional security, energy and power etc. Therefore, the objectives of the study are to embark on a reconstruction of the historical development of Nigeria Ghana relations and point out the policy pendulum that characterizes her foreign policy formulation and Implementation of Nigeria and Ghana in their relationship.

More so, the study seeks to discuss various issues, political, economic, and social and otherwise emanating in the course of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana. For the purpose of this research, the chapters are divided into four. The first chapter gives a general introductory background to the study. Chapter two examines Nigeria - Ghana bilateral economic relations in such human endeavours as trade, telecommunications, and energy and power etc. The third chapter gives an exposition of Nigeria - Ghana socio political relations. The research work is concluded with chapter four which delves into a summary and conclusion of the research.



Front Page




Table of Contents






Background of the Study


Aims and Objectives


Research Methodology


Significance of the Study


Literature Review


Notes and Reference




2.1 Bilateral Trade Relations                                                               

2.2 Co-operation in the Energy Sector

2.3 Transport and Telecommunications Agreement 

Notes and References                                               







Sub-Regional Defense Co-Operation


Ghana Backs Nigeria Over Taylor


Socio-Cultural Relations


Notes and References



4.1 Summary                                                                       

4.2 Conclusion                                                   












Nigeria since independence in October 1960 has placed Africa as the centerpiece of her foreign relations with the outside world. Nigeria has always played a brotherly role towards its African neighbours. Nigeria from independence has determined to work of peace, understanding and cooperation amongst all the people of the African continent. The Nigeria government at various times after independence has offered various moral and financial support to various liberation movement all over Africa and has constantly urged them to unite in the intensification of the liberation struggles. These liberation groups included the African National Congress (A.N.C) and the South West African People Organization (S.W.A.P.O).

The Nigeria government in the pursuit of its foreign policy has always called for international co-operation as a means of strengthening, understanding and promoting friendship and solidarity among people of African the West African sub region practically gets the topmost attention in Nigeria's Foreign Policy and with the' formation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Nigeria has constantly reaffirmed its support for the sub regions economic organization and has expressed its determination to accelerate the efficient functions of the community. Fundamentally the West African sup-region occupies the level of the "Centrically Circle" of Nigeria's Foreign Policy. This centrically circle has the West African sub - region as the first level and the world at large as the third and final level.

Relations between Ghana and Nigeria are of long standing rooted in their history as colonies of the same imperial power. In March 1957 when Ghana became Independent the two countries shared many institutions and other interests in common.

Apart from this, they inherited from the United Kingdom a common official language, and common legal, administrative and educational systems. In addition both of them joined the common wealth on their independence.

However, all this tended to make one assume at the time they would continue to strengthen their links which are of vital importance for unity not only the common wealth African countries, but also for the whole of Africa. This is mainly because between them they constitute in size and population a large part of Africa. In natural and mineral resources the two countries put together are a giant in Africa.

In these circumstances, the case for close co-operation between the two countries for the purpose of improving the living conditions of their peoples and of promoting Pan African objectives can scarcely be over stated. Consequently, on the attainment of independence by the Gold Coast on 6th March 1957, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who later became the Nigerian Prime Minister expressed the hope that the traditional bonds and links between his country (Nigeria) and the newly independent Ghana would continue to grow strangers.

During his visit, to Nigeria very early in 1959, late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah assured the Nigerians that once their country was independent his government would take prompt measures to re-establish her connections with Nigeria through the various international institutions such as the West African Airways etc. from which Ghana had withdrawn since March 1957 because of her new status as a sovereign independent state.

In spite of all these declarations, very little co-operation did really take place between the two countries in the sixties and seventies. Instead of co-operation, the two countries actually began progressively from the time of Ghana's Independence, and even a little earlier, to move apart. By the end of 1970 both had virtually dismissed the hope of co-operating with each other, that year which saw the signing of the Ghana-Ivory Coast (now Cote d'Ivoire) friendship Treaty’s under which the Russian government formally committed the country into a sort of alliance with the Ivory Coast. It also witnessed the placing of a premium by Nigeria on her relations with .her Francophone neighbours rather than with Ghana. Indeed, the Central facts about the Ghanaian - Nigerian relationships during the early days were those ranging from mutual apathy and suspicions, to violent antagonism and outright hostility.

Although there were brief intervals of a relaxed relationships between Accra and Lagos, such as the immediate months following the formation of the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) in May 1963 (now A. U), the main feature of the relationship was one of discord. Needless to say that one of the reasons for the lack of cordial relationship could be seen in the extreme background of both leaders of the two countries at Independence. Ghana had a radical minded leader in Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, while Nigeria had a conservative leader; Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. These differences in background of both leaders greatly influenced their foreign policy and accounted for the not too cordial relationship.

Furthermore, the struggle for leadership in Africa was another great difficulty in Ghanaian - Nigerian harmony. Both countries based their claims on a number of factors. The Ghanaians based their claims on the fact that they were the first country in West Africa to have attained political independence and as such they hoped that this would give them a unique opportunity to play a leading role within the continent of Africa. Shortly after independence, Kwame Nkrumah spoke of this "historic role" of the Ghanaians "To our brethren who are still struggling to be free, later in 1958, he declared in the National Assembly that:

"Whether we like it or not, history has assigned to us a great responsibility and we must not fail all the millions on this continent, who look up to us as a symbol or their hopes in Africa"  

The Second myth associated with the Ghanaian's claim was the fact that new or modern Ghana was the rebirth of the Old Ghana, Empire. Although there has been no concrete historical evidence to substantiate the assertion of the ancient Ghana.8

However, Nigeria's claim to the leadership position in Africa has been attributed to the possession of abundant right natural resources. Although, it may be pertinent to add that even today both countries struggle and are still struggling for the position of leadership in the sub-region in virtually all aspect of national life.

This struggle for leadership position was continued in the ECOWAS when President John Kuffour became the chairman of the organization.

The year 1966 marked a turning point in Nigeria - Ghana relations mainly because of the events that took place in both countries at this time. These events were coup d’état carried out by the Armed Forces of both countries on the 15th of January and 25th of February, 1966 respectively. The coup plot ousted the two civilian governments of both countries and equally intensified an improvement in the relations of both countries which hitherto was not devoid of mutual distrust, resentment, suspicion, envy and antagonism. The factors responsible of both countries could be located in the fact that most of the army officers.

In 1966 and 1965 all belonged to the Royal West African Frontier Force, and they were all under the same West African Command Headquarters in Accra Ghana. Above all some of them had been contemporaries in British military training institutions. For instance, Major General Kotoka who led the Coup in Accra had part of his training in Easton Hall, England which was where General Aguyi Ironsi got trained, while General A.A. Afrifa was second in command in the coup, General Yakubu Gowon was his contemporary at Sandhurst Military School. Apart from being contemporaries in various British Military institutions, these military officers had very little ideological differences between them.

Suffice to say that they honey moon of good relationship between Nigeria and Ghana was to further degenerate in 1983 when the administration of President Shehu Shagari gave an expulsion order to the illegal aliens drawn mainly from the neighbouring West African countries including Ghana. The expulsion order was issued following public outcry over the adverse effect which the presence of the illegal aliens in the country had on the Nigerian populace.

Similarly, the General Muhammad Buhari's government for the same apparent reasons issued a directive that was reminiscent of the Shehu Shagari's administration expulsion order to illegal aliens.

Nevertheless, the wounds of expulsion and counter expulsion of the past were healed when General Babangida extended an arm of friendship to the Ghanaian leader Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings. Besides, both countries sought improvement in their economies, various visits were exchanged by representatives of both countries, this visit eventually created way for the Ghanaian Head of State to pay a state visit to Nigeria in 1988. During this visit to Nigeria the Ghanaian leader was given the privilege honour of being the special guest of honour at the Nigerian Air force Day celebration held in Makurdi, Benue State. During this visit to Nigeria, the Ghanaian Head of State flight lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, and his Nigerian Counterpart, General Ibrahim Babangida agreed that the relationship between the two countries is too historic to be scarified on the altar of expediency. A bilateral agreement to this effect was signed by the two leaders and from this point onward it was obvious that the Nigeria-Ghana relations was gradually improving upon the previous situations. Subsequent Nigerian military administrations of General Sanni Abacha and General Abubakar also maintained cordial relations with Ghana.

The Olusegun Obasanjo and Musa Yar'Adua democratic governments maintained this relationship with Ghana. The visit of the Ghanaian president John Kuffour in Nigeria in February 2001 was an expression of appreciation to Nigeria for their support to his government.

Evidently, Nigeria and Ghana have been co-operating in many areas such as bilateral trade agreement, co­operation in the energy sector, joint defense and a host of others.

In the field of sports especially football, both countries rule the continent and have made appreciable impacts at the international level of riote are the exploits of such clubs as Ashanti Kotoko and Accra hearts of oak both of Ghana and the dazzling performances of the Enyimba football Club of Aba in Nigeria.

Both countries have dominated the Africa Cup Nations tournaments and are greatly detested by other national teams. Both countries became experimental grounds for the co-hosting arrangement as they co-hosted the year 2000 edition of the African cup of Nations In January /February 2000. At the 1996 Olympic games In Atlanta, Nigeria conquered the Brazilians and Argentines to lift the football gold. To celebrate this feat, Nigeria declared public holidays and Ghana did same to honour the Nigerian soccer Kings.



The purpose of this study therefore, is summarized as follows:

To reconstruct the historical development of Nigeria­ Ghana relations and discusses the Strain in relations in the early days of their relationship. Also, It aims at pointing out and discussing various issues political, economic social and otherwise, emanating in the course of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana. Finally, it aims at discussing the problems and prospects of Nigeria - Ghana relations in the New World Order.


This research relied primarily on secondary sources, such as books, magazines. Major articles, periodicals and documents were adequately consulted and provided great deal of data and statistics used in this research work.

It is quite obvious that the available literature is deficient in areas dealing, with contemporary development in the International system, and its implications on Nigeria Ghana relations. These Inadequacies made this investigation a worthwhile effort.



The growing importance of bilateral relations in the International system as a means of fostering international co-operation in all aspects Socio, economic, Political Scientific and Technological of human endeavours in the world has become glaring and the need to interact and foster mutual and all round bilateral relations between countries of the world has become inevitable.

This study apart from helping to understand the development of Nigeria - Ghana relations, will also make it possible for the general readers, students of International Relations, policy formulators and statesmen to be familiar with issues relating to national interests and foreign policy formulation, adjustment and implementation strategy in the field of diplomacy.

This study will promote further enquiry into the Nigeria, Ghana national interests and foreign policy. Formulation and implementation. It will also serve as a source of reference to other researches on other aspect of  Nigeria ­Ghana relations.

Finally, the study will not only provide awareness to the general public on the implication of Africa as the Centre piece in the conduct of Nigeria's relation with neighbouring countries in the sub-region, but will also "enhance' the integration of the policies into the mainstream of Nigeria's Foreign Policy in the New world order.



Scholars have done useful and solid work concerning the subject. Among them are such works as Aluko Olajide's Ghana and Nigeria 1957-70: A study in inter African Discord published in 1976, Kirk Green's Crisis and Conflicts in Nigeria Foreign Policy, which appeared in 1981, Olajide Aluko's The Foreign Policy of African States published in 1977, Group son Okechuku’s military in politics and the third cotordzauon of Africa beyond destruction and despairs published in 2009.

There are of course articles in journals which also dealt with our subject. Among them are Aluko Olajide's "Ghana's Foreign Policy under the national Liberation Council" African Quarterly vol 5, No 2, January 1971, Odu Richard's "Questioning our stand on Ghana" In Nigeria Tide 1982, Aluko Olajide's "Ghana, and the Nigerian civil war" in the Journal of Economic and Social Studies vol 12,

1976, Odu Richards "Why Nigeria Bluffs Rawlings" in Nigerian statesman 1982.

Admittedly, the scholars have done well to unravel much relevant data on the subject and to establish some analytical framework for the interpretation of Nigeria Ghana relations. It is in this regard that this present work has gained from the scholars in question. However, certain limitations became apparent once it was realized that these existing works on the topic are too sketchy and sometimes only make casual comments on vital issues in it In addition, virtually all the world do not contain a contemporary information on Nigeria - Ghana relations.

More importantly, the articles in the journals of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), The Nigerian Forum deals extensively on contemporary issues regarding Nigeria - Ghana relations.

According to Adekunle Ajala (2000), although relations between Nigeria and Ghana have always been one of suspicion and mistrust in the 60s up till the 1980s, relations between the two countries has improved significantly since the 1990s.

On the whole the subject is organized under four chapters. The chapter one deals with the general introduction, alms and objectives of the study, methodology, significance of the study and literature review. Chapter two is on the economic relations between Nigeria and Ghana since 1999 up till 2010. Chapter three deals with Nigeria - Ghana socio political relations within the period of study. Lastly, Chapter four is on the summary of the work and conclusion.

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