Ghana and Nigeria have agreed to establish a reciprocal legislation known as “friendship act” to find a lasting solution to trade hostilities between nationals of the two countries spanning more than a decade.
The deal was reached between the Speakers of Ghana’s Parliament and the House of Representatives of Nigeria on Thursday following a two-day bilateral discussion between the most powerful nations within the West African sub-region.
A joint communique issued after the discussions stated, “a joint committee will be established to compose of members of both legislations to explore the possible passage of reciprocal legislation which could potentially be called the Ghana-Nigeria Friendship Act, which shall propose the Ghana-Nigeria Business Council to provide a legal framework to sustain the friendship and benefits of the two nations.”
Nigeria’s chairman of the media and publicity committee of the house of representatives Benjamin Kalu announced the trade and industry committees of the respective houses have been tasked to work out the modalities of the process. The feud between Ghanaian traders and their Nigerian counterparts here began in 2007 in which the former accused the latter of “taking over” retail trade reserved only for locals.
The Ghanaian traders insist their West African counterparts had breached the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) Act and want the Ghanaian government to enforce the legislation.
“They call us thugs. What we are saying is that what they seek to portray to Ghanaians is that our actions are unlawful. What we are also saying is that whatever thing we are doing is legal,” President of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) Joseph Obeng said.
The non-enforcement of the GIPC Act by the relevant authorities compelled the Ghanaian traders to arrogate the law unto themselves by locking up shops belonging to Nigerians in the cities of Accra and Kumasi.
The Nigerian traders made an open appeal to Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to intervene in the fracas. The traders at a recent press conference said they have endured “consistent harassment” since 2007 at the hands of GUTA and want the president to re-look the laws GUTA takes advantage of to harass them.
“The government should call them to order and then revisit some of the provisions of the law that they take advantage of to promote this hate agenda,” President of the Ghana chapter of the Nigerians in diaspora organization Ogbonna Kaycey said recently.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol, the Nigerians said, gives all citizens of member states equal rights to do business, reside and establish a business in each member state.
The action by the local traders received condemnation from the Ghanaian government. Former deputy Minister for Trade Carlos Ahenkorah warned a trade clash with Nigeria could affect Ghana more, adding that Ghana is not an island, so there is the need for better trade relations with foreign countries.
“I want the GUTA to understand that whether they like it or not, we need other economies to support what we do here. I’m pleading with GUTA, just take your time and let’s find a way to resolve the issue. They don’t need to go trading blows. If you trade blows, you only get the bigger guys to outsmart you,” Ahenkorah said.
Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila said earlier the closure of Nigerian shops contravenes ECOWAS trade protocols and called for a decisive solution between both countries.