The House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Thursday, September 3; disclosed that the Federal Government made frantic efforts towards resolving the current feud between Nigerian traders and the Ghanaian government.
Gbajabiamila on Wednesday embarked on a legislative diplomatic trip to Ghana to seek a solution to the problem.
A statement released by Lanre Lasisi; his special adviser on media and publicity said the speaker made some far-reaching proposals that would bring an end to the attacks on Nigerian traders doing business in Ghana.
Gbajabiamila, the statement said, urged Ghana authorities to revisit the law on $1 million business capital.
“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; Gbajabiamilaadvocated 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,” the statement said.
The statement added, “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.
“I for one would be willing to champion a law that helps to improve the bilateral trade relations and reciprocal legislation between our two countries.
“In this regard, we would like to explore the possibility of jointly passing what we could potentially call a Nigeria-Ghana Friendship Act; or something in that line, which will help to cement into law the good relations between our countries.”
Gbajabiamila, also noting that the relationship between Nigeria and Ghana remained one of the most important in Africa; said that 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 were a cause for deep concern; for all arms of the Nigerian government and the Nigerian people; calling for urgent action to end the hostility.
Speaking, the Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Alan Kyeremateng said there were 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.
“I say this, being the Minister of Trade and Industry, this is not something that is new; I have always since the time I’ve been a Minister found a way of going along; so that those who needed to regularize their businesses would do so.
“Also as indicated by the Speaker, that it will be a desire to see whether certain aspects of the law could be looked at; I’m sure the Speaker will look at that request and appropriate Committees would be engaged on the subject
“As long as the laws remain on our statute books; I will like to request that, you send a strong signal to our brothers and sisters who are engaged in retail trading; that at least for now until further considerations are made on our statute books; they should just respect the law because Ghanaian traders themselves are required to respect the laws of our country.
“And in that sense, it will be discriminatory for us to require Ghanaians to respect the same laws in our statute books; and not require foreigners to do so,” Kyeremateng said.