Brewing Nigeria-Ghana Tensions

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At the mention of Ghana, the ever-familiar, sturdy, checkered bags, Ghana Must Go, come to mind. In the event that led to the expulsion of a million undocumented West African immigrants in 1983 by President Shehu Shagari, Ghanaians made up half of the number. The famous bag was used to convey goods back to their home country. Later, General Muhammadu Buhari announced another expulsion, and about 7,000 people were ejected.

In 1969, the then-Ghanaian Prime Minister, Kofi Busia, invoked the Aliens Compliance Order and deported an estimated 2.5-million undocumented African migrants, the majority of whom were Nigerians.

Although trade relations between both countries were solidified by the Economic Community of West African Country (ECOWAS) with both countries being members, the coming days could be marked with tension.

What is Brewing?

In 2019, some Nigerian-owned businesses in Ghana were closed. Reports claimed it was a retaliatory act because goods belonging to Ghanaians were seized by Nigerian authorities in a fight against the smuggling of rice into the country.

On the 20th of June, 2020 some armed men invaded the Nigerian High Commission in Accra, Ghana, and demolished two residential buildings under construction. These buildings were being designed to house staff and visitors. A Ghanaian businessman hired bulldozers after claiming encroachment on his land with evidence.

The man showed up last week with some papers to support his claim and began to knock down the fence surrounding the building.

The Ghanaian Government apologized and promised to investigate this act.

Last week, an inter-ministerial taskforce went around to identify shops owned by Nigerians and demanded registration of business taxes, resident permit, standard control, and the Ghanaian Investment and Promotion Centre (GIPC) permit. The GIPC is responsible for registering all businesses in Ghana and required Nigerian traders to pay $1 million minimum foreign equity within 14 days while registration costs 31,500 cedis.

President of the Nigerian Trade Union in Ghana, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, said the fee was expensive and Nigerian traders couldn’t afford it. Also, he claimed traders were asked to employ a minimum of 25 skilled Ghanian workers and not trade in commodities Ghanaian traders have applied to trade-in.

Most of our members do not have the GIPC registration, because it requires one million dollars cash or equity and they gave us 14 days within which to regularise.

They demanded that we must employ a minimum of 25 skilled Ghanaian workers and must not trade in commodities that Ghanaian traders have applied to trade-in.

Nigerian life in Ghana matters. This is the livelihoods of Nigerians being destroyed by Ghanaian authorities. This is not being perpetrated by a trade union, but Ghanaian authorities.

The humiliation of Nigerians is getting out of hand. We are calling on the Nigerian government to come to our aid.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has responded saying the Federal Government is weighing its options. He disclosed this in a meeting with the League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria, led by Jasper Emenike.

What is the point of having an economic community if, at the end of the day, each country will make laws and regulations that are in contradiction with the protocol? That is an issue that needs to be addressed.

We have the intention of calling our Charge D’Affaires in Ghana for consultation and again to get to the fact. We don’t want to anticipate what our actions would be, but we will consider all the options depending on the facts.

Clearly, if it is contravening ECOWAS protocol, then we would have to look at the solution, including the ECOWAS court as the final arbiter.

We will also consider the issue of reciprocity in terms of the concrete measures that will be applied. We are following the matter very closely and we want the matter to be addressed within the shortest possible time.

Although Nigeria and Ghana are West Africa’s biggest economies, they do have a history of friction.

 

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