STEP Analysis: Political Factors and Impacts of the Aliens Quit Compliance Order


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:

  1. 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:

  1. That there were about 600,000 registered unemployed in Ghana, which would be relieved by the expulsion of the aliens;
  2. 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;

  1. restore the economy to Ghanaians;
  2. “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:

  1. Generate more employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed Ghanaian nationals;
  2. 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;
  1. Rid the country of lawlessness and crime perpetrated largely by aliens.



Appendix:  A

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.







About Anang Tawiah

About the author :: Anang Tawiah is a New York City based Management Consultant specializing in Investment Risk and Technology Strategy. He continues to guide many Blue chip companies and Governments as a Business and Technology Consultant. Please direct all follow up questions, concerns, request for speaking engagements and presentations regarding my articles and research to my Facebook Page listed below. You can read more of his analysis or reach him for further professional consultations and or guidance at: // Email: // Follow me on Wordpress: // Follow me on Facebook:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: