President Akufo-Addo speaking to Femi Gbajabiamila (2nd right), Speaker of Parliament of Nigerian. Picture by Gifty Ama Lawson.
Ghana and Nigeria have begun a process to mend the seeming broken fence in the area of retail trade between the two countries.
It follows a series of standoff between Ghanaian retail traders and their Nigerian counterparts in Ghana over what the Ghanaians have called an invasion of the retail business which is by law reserved for only locals, leading to the closure of a number of shops owned by Nigerians in Ghana.
This is what has provoked fresh talks between the two countries led by the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives (Parliament), Femi Gbajabiamila.
At a meeting with President Akufo-Addo, he blamed the now ‘frosty’ relations between the two sides on misconception and misinformation.
“The issues at hand is basically the misconception, misinformation by some people and perhaps media from both sides, as to what exactly is going on in Ghana as far as Nigerians are concerned (sic),” he said.
That notwithstanding, Speaker Gbajabiamila said “we (referring to the Nigerian side) have taken time to educate our people here about those misconceptions,” adding “you cannot talk about Africa without talking about Ghana-Nigeria and it was that strength that we seek to protect, not for today but for future generations.”
The Nigerian authorities have, therefore, appealed to the government through Parliament to consider a review of the existing law that is giving room for tensions between the two friendly countries and their citizens.
“We have appealed to Parliament that if it was possible, and it is an appeal, and if it is possible at all, to please look again at the issues as far as the GIPC Act was concerned. If it is not possible, let us look at ways the pain can be a little bit reduced of the difficulties in meeting the expectations as regards the law (sic),” he said.
They have also proposed the establishment of a Ghana-Nigeria Business Council backed by legislation on both sides which would make them have something coded or a statute form to guide relationship between the two sides in terms of business moving forward.
The Nigerian Speaker believes “there is nothing as good as bilateral trade agreement backed by law by the two countries, it gives us a better understanding and produces better results.”
President Akufo-Addo expressed reservation about the comments of Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, on the issue in the heat of the ‘melee’.
“I was alarmed when I read the statement. If these are really the attitudes and sentiments of the federal government of Nigeria, then we were in a really serious problem,” he said.
That notwithstanding, he assured the Nigerian Speaker and his delegation that all the suggestions they had made from the establishment of the Ghana-Nigerian Business Council to Legislative reviews are all welcomed and they would be given opportune attention by his government.
“The review that you are asking for, why not? If that is worth doing from our mutual perspectives, it will make a lot of sense, so you can take it foe granted that the request that you have made will be treated seriously and we will have a look at it (sic),” President Akufo-Addo said.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu