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Ghana not at fault in retail trade challenges – Nigerian Speaker

President Akufo-Addo meets with the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye

The Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives says the delegation he led to Ghana on a two-day fact-finding mission over challenges with trade relations between Ghana and Nigeria has concluded that Ghana has done no wrong against Nigerians.

Addressing President Akufo-Addo and senior members of his government (including the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye), Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said that “the issue at hand is basically a misconception and misinformation”, which he and his delegation had come to understand during their visit.

Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria

 

Speaker Gbajabiamila identified what he sees as the origin of the misunderstanding: “The people, perhaps the media on both sides as well … As to what exactly is going on in Ghana as far as Nigerians are concerned, we have taken time to educate our people here about those misconceptions.

“We deliberated and resolved that whatever needs to be done on both sides, to make sure that this relationship remains the relationship it used to be and still is, we will do.”

Nigerian foreign minister objects

On 17 August 2020 the foreign affairs minister of Nigeria, Geoffrey Onyeama, made an announcement in a tweet, expressing his government’s displeasure with a clip that went viral on social media showing the closing down of shops that allegedly belong to Nigerian traders in Ghana.

In his tweet, Foreign Minister Onyeama said, “Nigerian government has watched with dismay the painful videos of the forceful closure of the shops of Nigerian traders in #Ghana. Urgent steps will be taken.”

The visit of the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives to Ghana to meet the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, and subsequently the President of the Republic, can be seen as an attempt to use diplomacy to arrest the unfortunate effects of the Nigerian diplomat’s remarks.

Request for review of legislation

Speaker Gbajabiamila, in a statement to President Akufo-Addo, said he has suggested to the leaders of Ghana’s Parliament that they reconsider current legislation that imposes huge surcharges on foreigners who wish to trade in Ghana.

“We have appealed to Parliament that if it is possible at all, and it is an appeal, if it is possible at all to please look again at the issues as far as the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act is concerned, then they should please do so.

“If it is not possible, then let us look at ways where the pain can be a little bit reduced, or the difficulties in meeting those expectations espoused in the law can be reduced,” Speaker Gbajabiamila said.

“We have proffered suggestions which we are working on, one of which is, as he did mention … the establishment of a Ghana-Nigeria Business Council, backed by legislation on both sides,” the Nigerian Speaker said.

President Akufo-Addo

Addressing the delegation led by Speaker Gbajabiamila, President Akufo-Addo said he had been taken aback by a statement from the Nigerian federal minister of information.

“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,” the president said.

 

Review of legislation

President Akufo-Addo assured the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his delegation that all the suggestions they had made, from the proposal to establish a Ghana-Nigeria Business Council to legislative reviews, are welcome. They will be given opportune attention by his government, he said.

“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 for granted that the request that you have made will be treated seriously and we will have a look at it,” the president said.

Click on this link (directly below) to listen to President Akufo-Addo.

Click on this link (below) to listen to the Nigerian Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.

Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio

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