Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (right) with Olufemi Michael Abikoye
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has called for the re-opening of the Nigerian border to ensure a return to normal regional trade.
The Minister made the call during a meeting on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, with the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Olufemi Michael Abikoye.
She has also assured the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) that the Ghanaian Government would use all diplomatic avenues to get the government of Nigeria to re-open its western borders for the free flow of goods from Ghana to the sub-region.
Nigeria partially closed its borders with Benin in August this year to curb the spate of rice smuggling which Africa’s most populous country said is threatening its attempt to boost local production.
The move, says Nigeria’s High Commission to Ghana, aimed at stopping the movement of illicit weapons and other smuggled goods through the various entry points.
The closure however, has affected the movement of goods and services from the West African sub-region into Nigeria through that section of the country’s border, a situation GUTA observed, was causing its members to incur huge losses.
It would be recalled that GUTA petitioned government and recently Madam Ayorkor Botchwey to act on the matter.
After a meeting with the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, on 15 October 2019, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey called on the Nigerian government to take immediate steps to resolve the border issue.
“As we speak, Nigerian goods are entering Ghana without any problem and I think that we should find ways of isolating the issues and the country’s that you have problems with so that Ghana’s exports can enter your market without being lumped up with all these issues that have emerged,” she appealed.
She said truckloads of goods from Ghana have been detained at the Seme border between Benin and Nigeria for weeks and coming back to use the seaports will be a major problem as the traders have already lost millions within the last few weeks.
The Nigerian High Commissioner said Abuja would be willing to collaborate with Ghana to find a lasting solution to the situation.
“At the end of it, we’re helping our economies. The smuggling will stop and the emerging issues put on the platform and at the end of it, all of us will be very happy”, he noted.
According to the High Commissioner, “the sub-region will be happy and Nigeria will be able to generate employment and I appreciate you Your Excellency for calling for this meeting, it actually shows your diplomacy at the highest level and whatever the concerns with respect to Ghanaian goods that are stuck at the border, we shall convey to Nigeria,” he noted.
He made clear that Ghana was not the target for the temporary closure of the borders.
Meanwhile, the envoy pledged his country’s commitment to find a lasting solution to the matter following the setting up of a joint task force constituting Customs, Immigration and other security bodies for the broader benefit of the ECOWAS Sub region.
BY Melvin Tarlue