Ghana, Nigeria urged to fast-track legislative diplomacy initiative to end traders’ rivalry
Ghana and Nigeria have been commended for their ongoing mutual efforts, through legislative diplomacy, to provide a final solution to the lingering rivalry between Nigeria and Ghanaian traders in Ghana.
Making the commendation in Accra recently, the Ezeigbo Ghana (king of Igbos in Ghana) Eze Chukwudi Jude Ihenetu, also urged the respective parliaments to, however, fast-track the process, saying unnecessary delays could jeopardize the noble vision.
“My advice to them is that whatever you say, back it up with action. Anything we delay action on, remember that we are human beings, your vision is not my vision; your vision and my vision can be for us to achieve the importation of rice by the end of this year. Maybe, by the end of this year, God forbid, God might call us back home, God forbid; and, that vision will automatically die. Or, those still alive may not see that vision as workable, and may change it. But if they implement it quickly, that will eradicate poverty and hunger. That is to say that if we do it immediately, it will help. But if we procrastinate and continue to waste time, whatever they have agreed upon, in bilateral and diplomatic relationship, they should make sure they implement them so that the measures will start working immediately, and not to waste time,” Eze Ihenetu appealed.
His appeal comes in the wake of the resumed lock up recently of Nigerian shops in parts of the country, including Accra, Kasoa and Koforidua by members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
The Igbo monarch similarly highlighted the positive contribution of Nigerians, and Igbos in particular, to the Ghanaian economy.
According to him, at least 40 percent of Igbos living in Ghana own their own houses, thereby investing in the development of their host communities.
Many have families in Ghana who they pay for when necessary to access health services; many, also, pay school fees for their children in schools in Ghana, others pay sundry utility bills for shops and offices, which all help to oil the Ghanaian economy.
“The Igbos are hardworking people. Every Igbo man works so hard to make everywhere he is comfortable. Again, the answer is that 40 percent of Igbos here in Ghana are landlords; they build houses in the various places where they are living. That’s development. The same 40 percent are in trading; they pay taxes, they pay shop owners, they pay workers, and they pay utility bills where they live. Still among that 40 percent, the majority are parents with children here (in Ghana), and paying school fees from which the Ghana education system benefits. Think about health; we are also paying for health bills to make sure our health is ok. So, anywhere Igbos are, we ensure we contribute in building a strong economy for wherever we are. Any Igbo man that moved out of Nigeria, that moved out of Igboland to any part of the world is going there for the development of that area,” he said.
The Ghana-Nigeria legislative diplomacy dialogue, which started in September last year, became imperative as the parliaments of the two countries sought modalities to resolve challenges and provide an enabling business environment for foreign traders, including Nigerians doing business in Ghana.
Several foreign businesses, many Nigerian-owned, in Ghana have been facing challenges in the demand for $1m capital base for foreign traders, as enshrined in the Ghana Investment Promotion Center GIPC Act (2013).
Responding then to a request by the visiting Nigerian Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila for a review of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act to make certain concessions, President Akufo Addo had said the request was in order as it “makes a lot of sense.”
The Ghanaian president also endorsed a proposal for the establishment of a ‘Nigeria-Ghana Business Council’ established by law in both countries, and additionally suggested the setting up of a joint ministerial committee between the two countries that will “shepherd” issues between Ghana and Nigeria.
“I think the way forward, which is really what matters in situations like this, that is being suggested, one that I find very acceptable, the idea of legislation, a Nigeria Ghana business council that will superintendent trade matters and investment matters between our two countries, maybe long overdue.
“The time has come for us to take these worthwhile steps. I suggested to Mr. President that it will be a good idea to set up a joint ministerial committee of ministers from both sides who will be responsible for shepherding Ghana and Nigeria issues, reporting to both presidents at any one time, and that is how they should be resolved,” he said.
“The way you yourselves have come about this matter is very satisfactory, and it requires our support. The review that you are asking for, why not? if it works in our mutual perspectives, we can take it for granted that your request will be taken seriously. We will have a look at it.
“So, the request for the review makes a lot of sense,” President Akufo Addo said.