By Agbonkhese Oboh
Professor Austin Nwagbara of University of Lagos, UNILAG, has said the video of him calling on Nigerians to resist, strategise and fight back, in reference to their ugly experiences in Ghana, was “edited” and “stitched” out of context to cause rancour in line with “a growing xenophobic situation in Ghana that can blossom into a fireball.”
He noted that xenophobia was growing in Ghana, manifest mainly at the corporate and national levels, which makes it more dangerous and appearing like somebody manipulating things somewhere.
In June, a video of Professor Nwagbara seemingly calling Nigerians to arms went viral on social media and the reactions in mainstream media and public discourse rankled many, with the Ghanaian authorities subjecting him to treatments he described as “embarrassing and shocking.”
“That video,” he told Vanguard, “was part of my contribution at a meeting and is not a total representation of how that presentation was made.”
According Nwagbara, who was on sabbatical at University of Education, Winneba, “we were at a meeting of about 30 Nigerians living in the Central region (comprising Kasua, Winneba, Cape Coast, Wedre, Appa and other towns), who came together to find solution to the situation where Nigerians were the focus Ghanaian immigration, police and other state agencies.
“The Nigerian High Commission was represented; some of us professors from University of Education, Winneba, were there to interact with the Nigerian diplomat. As Nigerians were narrating their sad experiences, the question was how do we resolve this at the personal, communal and diplomatic level?
“That video was part of my contribution at the meeting. I emphasise part because it was not all of my contribution and is not a total representation of how that presentation was made.
“The misunderstanding was a result of viewing the edited video, which was the goal of the person that removed some parts and stitched other parts together. Perhaps, if Ghanaians had seen the whole story, the reaction would have been different.”
He said he felt embarrassed, angry and “then at a point I felt humiliated, especially by the uncritical reception of the story by the Ghanaian media and a section of their society. No single one came to get my own side of the story. When I saw the video, I was asking ‘who is this?’
“But it’s a digital era, so people should know that reality can be created and manipulated. That’s why the uncritical acceptance is shocking and made me conclude it is deliberate.”
Nwagbara also pointed out that when universities become where ideas are gagged and thoughts controlled, is not healthy for academics, advising other Nigerian scholars not to go to Ghana with the Nigerian perspective of being expressly open and very critical.