VICE president Professor Yemi Osinbajo has assured Nigerian traders in Ghana that they would get justice as the negotiations between the two countries to reverse the $1m levy placed on them by the Ghanaian authorities continues.
Across the major markets in most Ghanaian cities, Nigerian traders dominate the retail trade, squeezing local operators out. This created a bitter backlash, forcing local traders to approach the authorities for help, who responded ruthlessly by imposing a $1m duty on all Nigerian traders and have closed the shops of those who have refused to pay.
Over recent weeks, the issue has led to s diplomatic stand-off with Ghana being accused of breaching the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) free trade protocol. In search of a solution to the crisis, officials from both countries began talks in Abuja, with Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives calling on the Ghanaian authorities to review their position.
Professor Osinbajo is currently on a visit to Ghana and yesterday, at a meeting with representatives of the Nigerian community in the country, he said their well-being was the federal government’s concern. Laolu Akande, Professor Osinbajo’s spokesman, said that while responding to the issues raised by leaders of the Nigerian community at the meeting, particularly complaints of maltreatment by Ghanaian authorities, the vice president assured them of the federal government’s commitment to deal with the issues thoroughly.
Professor Osinbajo said: “I will certainly convey the depth of your grievances to the president. I am sure that he will be deeply disturbed to hear that despite the assurances that he had received from the Ghanaian government, there are still problems and complications.
“I look forward to getting the details and making sure that we are able to begin to resolve some of these issues as quickly as possible but I think you must also recognise that generally speaking, governments tend to be very slow. Processes are slow, bureaucracies are slow but we will make sure that we do the very best we can to get you your rights so that at least, you are dealt with justly.”
“There has been direct communications between our president and President Akufo-Addo. Our President has spoken to him about this, he has made a formal complaint to him and that conversation has been going on and what the Ghanaian government pledged to do on three occasions, was that the shops will be reopened.
“In fact, I am a bit surprised that it has not taken place because my understanding was that, that was going to be done. So, I think what we need to do aggressively is to follow-up with the Ghanaian government and to see that these things are done.”
He, however, urged all affected traders through their associations and leaders to submit a more detailed letter containing the number of affected shops and other relevant information that would enable the Nigerian government follow-up effectively their Ghanaian authorities. Professor Osinbajo then urged Nigerians living in Ghana to remain law-abiding and to embrace peaceful coexistence, while adding that both governments would resolve the differences.