By Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu
Abuja — Nigeria and Ghana yesterday began talks to cement cracks in their bilateral relations owing to the diplomatic crisis between them arising from the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians in Ghana.
Senior government officials from both countries have met in Abuja as part of ongoing efforts to resolve the diplomatic crisis.
Also, House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on Ghanaian authorities to revisit the law that requires a capital base of $1 million for businesses by foreigners, saying as Africans, Ghana should encourage brotherliness.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ferdinand Nwonye, said in a statement that the delegations of both countries had a successful bilateral engagement on improving Nigeria, Ghana relations.
However, the statement was silent on the details of the meeting.
Nwonye said: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that a delegation of senior Ghanaian government officials led by Hon. Allan John Kyeremanteng, Minister for Trade and Industry, arrived Abuja, today (Thursday), 3rd September 2020 to hold a discussion with their Nigerian counterparts.
“Other members of the Ghanaian delegation include Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister for Information and Hon. Mohammed Habibu Tijani, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.”
The Nigerian delegation to the meeting was led by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo.
Others on the delegation at the meeting were the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, among others.
As a step towards the improvement of bilateral relations between both countries, Gbajabiamila, who was on a two-day troubleshooting mission to Accra, urged Ghana to revisit the law that requires a capital base of $1 million for foreigners’ businesses, saying as Africans, Ghana should encourage brotherliness.
The speaker, at a meeting with Ghanaian lawmakers and some top government officials advocated an amicable settlement of trade disputes through arbitration and fair judicial processes.
He said he would be glad to champion a law to improve the bilateral trade relations between Nigeria and Ghana.
Gbajabiamila said Nigeria and its people are worried by the challenges that Nigerian traders face in Ghana and called for an urgent action to end the hostilities.
He added that at a time the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impacts, this is not a time for conflict and disagreements, but a time for partnership and solidarity.
He said: “We do believe that while it is the sovereign right of the government of Ghana to pass and implement the GIPC Act, we would implore you to explore alternative and less aggressive options of engaging, sanctioning and relating with our traders and business people who operate in your country, pay taxes and contribute to the development of both our nations.
“Secondly, we would encourage you to revisit the component of the law that requires a capital base of $1,000,000. We are all Africans; we all have towns and villages, and we know only too well that majority of our traders across the continent are petty traders. The prospect of them being able to raise a capital base of $1,000,000 before they can trade in goods that may be worth less than $1,000, clearly is a major challenge.
“Thirdly, one of the things we are all proud about and the common surname that we all bear is ‘ECOWAS’ and as you know, by the virtue of being ECOWAS countries, our nations and our citizens should be able to live, work and thrive in any of our nations without any form of hindrance or discrimination.
“It is in this light we would encourage that we explore how the principles and the application of ECOWAS protocols – which we are both signatories to – may perhaps conflict with the application of the GIPC Act, especially vis-à-vis the recent adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACfTA) by African nations; and also the movement towards single currency in the West African sub-region.”
He urged the legislatures of both countries to embrace legislative diplomacy to assist the executive branches of Nigeria and Ghana to resolve the diplomatic row.
“I for one would be willing to champion a law that helps to improve the bilateral trade relations and reciprocal legislation between our two countries and in this regard, we would like to explore the possibility of jointly passing what we could potentially call a Nigeria-Ghana Friendship Act – or something in that line, which will help to cement into law the good relations between our countries and also create a legal framework for further camaraderie that will enable us to ensure that, when it comes to Nigeria and Ghana, our laws will support efforts to improve relations, trade and positive and friendly interactions between our citizens, institutions and our governments.
“The escalation of the tensions between our citizens and our nations is nothing for either of our countries to be proud of. And therefore, as I said today at the Nigeria High Commission, it is important that we leaders ensure that our utterances and our actions; and what is reported in our media do not fan the flames of conflict and confrontation, but instead, fuel the possibilities of first de-escalating tensions; finding constructive options for resolution; and working together to effectively implement those solutions, both here in Ghana as well as in Nigeria,” he added.
The Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry Hon. Alan Kyeremateng, said there are many Ghanaians and Nigerians who are going about their lawful duties without difficulties.
According to him, “The incidence that has occurred where some shops were locked up must have arisen out of situations where there were clear abuses of the application of the laws. I was happy that the Nigerian Speaker of the House of Representatives mentioned that if they are doing legitimate business, please allow them as brothers and sisters to continue to do so. I want to give you that assurance that that will be the case. Anybody engaged in business, trading, doing the rightful things, they must have no difficulties.”