The federal government said on Thursday that it will not hesitate to bring back its traders from Ghana if that will bring a lasting solution over the protracted business row.
This followed a letter by 753 members of the Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana calling on the federal government to evacuate them back home because of constant harassment.
Several businesses, many owned by Nigerians in Ghana, have been facing challenges in the demand for $1m (N380m) capital base for foreign traders, as enshrined in the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, GIPC Act (2013).
Many of the Nigerian traders said they could not afford the amount. Ghanaian authorities have locked their shops and business premises, insisting that they must pay.
The letter calling on the federal government to help them return home was presented to the Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, by the President of the Nigerian traders in Ghana, Dr Ken Ukoaha, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
Apart from members of the Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana, those from the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) had also expressed their readiness to return home.
They said the payment of $1m to remain in business was unjust, unfair, and a breach of the ECOWAS protocol.
But the Ghanaian authorities remained adamant, insisting that shops of citizens of other countries including Nigeria must remain shut until they complied.
Responding to the call late Wednesday in a statement, Gabriel Odu of NIDCOM’s Media, Public Relations and Protocol Unit, quoted Dabiri-Erewa expressing their willingness to bring Nigerians back home.
She, however, called for peace, stressing that all relevant stakeholders would be engaged to find a lasting solution.
According to the statement, “She said it is indeed sad that their shops have not been reopened for almost one year citing draconian conditions against ECOWAS Protocols of Free Trade and the movement of goods and services.
Until recently, Nigeria and Ghana had positive relationship for decades. Many Ghanaians live in Nigeria and vice versa.
Leaders of the Nigerian traders said there were clear indications that Ghana will not change its position.
According to them, “Diplomatic niceties at the highest level between Nigeria and Ghana have not yielded positive results.
“Landlords are coming to ask us for rent. How do we pay with our shops locked up for so long? We are dying here,” they said in their letter to the Nigerian authorities.”
There were insinuations in certain quarters that Ghanaian were deliberately “punishing” Nigerian traders through difficult taxes to force the federal government to reverse the closure of land borders.
Besides Ghana, other neighbouring countries including Benin, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon relied heavily on importing goods and services into Nigeria for their earnings.
On Tuesday, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, called on Nigerian traders in Ghana not to leave, saying they would find a lasting solution to the impasse.
Before then, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila was in Ghana at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek a diplomatic solution to the problem.
During the visit, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo Ado assured the speaker that his government will review its hostile trade policy against Nigerians in that country.
He said the government will “consider the resolutions reached at the Legislative Diplomacy Bilateral Meeting between Nigeria and Ghana’s senior legislators on 2nd September 2020, at the Ghanaian Parliament House.”
According to him, “The legislative diplomacy dialogue 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.”