General

Nigeria-Ghana: Speaker Gbajabiamila advocates application of ECOWAS protocols

The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila has made some far-reaching proposals that would bring an end to the attacks on Nigerian traders doing business in Ghana.

During a “Legislative Diplomacy” bilateral meeting with Ghanaian lawmakers and some top government officials as part of his ongoing visit to Ghana to resolve the crisis, Mr. Gbajabiamila advocated for an amicable settlement of trade disputes through arbitration and fair judicial processes.

The Speaker also said he would be glad to champion a law to improve the bilateral trade relations between Nigeria and Ghana, noting that citizens of the two countries remain brothers and sisters.

He called on Ghanaian authorities to revisit the component of the law that requires a capital base of $1 million for businesses to start, saying as Africans, Ghana should encourage brotherliness.

“First, the amicable settlement of trade disputes through arbitration and fair judicial processes. In this context, we do believe that while it is the sovereign right of the government of Ghana to pass and implement the GIPC Act, we would implore you to explore alternative and less aggressive options of engaging, sanctioning, and relating with our traders and business people who operate in your country, pay taxes and contribute to the development of both our nations.

“Secondly, we would encourage you to revisit the component of the law that requires a capital base of $1,000,000. We are all Africans, we all have towns and villages, and we know only too well that majority of our traders across the continent are petty traders. The prospect of them being able to raise a capital base of $1,000,000 before they can trade in goods that may be worth less than $1,000, clearly is a major challenge.

“Thirdly, one of the things we are all proud about and the common surname that we all bear is ‘ECOWAS’ and as you know, by virtue of being ECOWAS countries, our nations and our citizens should be able to live, work and thrive in any of our nations without any form of hindrance or discrimination.

“It is in this light we would encourage that we explore how the principles and the application of ECOWAS protocols – which we are both signatories to – may perhaps conflict with the application of the GIPC Act, especially vis-à-vis the recent adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACfTA) by African nations; and also the movement towards a single currency in the West African sub-region,” the Speaker explained.

Mr. Gbajabiamila also stressed the need for strengthening legislative diplomacy and collaboration.

“Legislative diplomacy is a tool that has been used across the world – both in developing and developed nations – to negotiate, to arbitrate, and to find a peaceful resolution to disputes between nations. Legislative diplomacy is akin to back-channel diplomacy, which in many cases, makes it more possible for countries to debate and find solutions to problems, without any country losing face publicly. 

“In this regard, I do believe that this step both our parliaments have taken to sit, to discuss, deliberate and find solutions; is a sterling example of legislative diplomacy, which the rest of the continent can follow to ensure that while the executive arm of government is performing its duties, that we in the legislature can also leverage our knowledge, our experience, the relationships we have amongst ourselves, to complement efforts in finding collective solutions to our shared problems,” he added.

Noting that the relationship between Nigeria and Ghana is one of the most important in Africa, Mr. Gbajabiamila said “At a time the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic impacts and the pressures on public coffers “and service delivery systems are weighing heavily on us all, it is clear that this is not a time for conflict and disagreements, but a time for partnership and solidarity.”

He said the challenges that Nigerian traders face in Ghana are a cause for deep concern for all arms of the Nigerian government and the Nigerian people, calling for urgent action to end the hostility.

The Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry Mr. Alan Kyeremateng, said there are many Ghanaians and Nigerians who are going about their lawful duties without difficulties.

“The incidence that has occurred where some shops were locked up must have risen out of situations where there were clear abuses of the application of the laws.

“I was happy that the Nigerian Speaker of the House of Representatives mentioned that if they are doing legitimate business, please allow them as brothers and sisters to continue to do so. I want to give you that assurance that that will be the case. Anybody engaged in business, trading, doing the rightful things, they must have no difficulties.

“Even in cases where we found that in some instances where the laws were not being followed, I, in my capacity as the Minister of Trade, had ordered that they shut the office and those who are being seen as offending the law be given an opportunity to regularize their documentation.” Mr. Kyeremateng stressed.

 

Source: Voice of Nigeria