FEMI Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives has implored Ghanaian lawmakers and government officials to explore less aggressive options in engaging with Nigerian traders in Ghana.
Gbajabiamila said this in a communique issued on his ‘legislative diplomacy’ visit to Ghana to end the trade disputes between the two countries.
“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,” Gbajabiamila said.
The Speaker also advocated for amicable settlement of trade disputes through arbitration and fair judicial processes.
During the meeting that had Ghanaian lawmakers and some officials of the Ghanian Government in attendance, Gbajabiamila encouraged the government to revisit the law that requires a capital base of $1,000,000 before a business startup in the country.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He stated that as fellow members of the Economic of West African States (ECOWAS), citizens of both countries should be able to live, work and thrive in any of the nations without any form of hindrance or discrimination.
“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,” Gbajabiamila said.
He further stated that 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 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 response to Gbajabiamila, Alan Kyerematen, the Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry 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,” Kyerematen.
“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.”
The ICIR reported that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday given Gbajabiamila approval for his legislative diplomacy visit to Ghana over maltreatment of Nigerians.