The closure of the land borders by the federal government has taken its toll on Ghanaian businesses according to Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghana’s foreign minister who made this known in a series of tweets earlier in the week in reaction to the closure of Nigerian businesses. Many Ghanaian businesses, according to the Minister, have nearly been bankrupted after their goods were stuck in Seme Border for months.
Efforts are being made to find a lasting solution to the endemic smuggling that characterises the Seme border even as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, decried the closure of Nigerian shops, as theycontraveneECOWAS’ trade protocols while calling on both countries to agree on a way forward.
“The happenings in Ghana are indeed against the spirit of the ECOWAS protocol and must be dealt with decisively in the interest of both countries,” he said.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, also summoned Ghana’s Chargé d’Affaires to Nigeria, Ms. Iva Denoo, last week, to discuss the closure of Nigerian-owned shops in Accra. Apparently, Onyeama had also claimed that Ghana’s alleged harassment of Nigerian-owned shops was being done for electoral gains.
Reacting to this claim, Ghana’s Foreign Minister said Geoffrey Onyema’s claim, “if indeed true will be most unfortunate.” This is because both countries have a tradition of maintaining close ties.
Meanwhile, the Ghanaian Minister recently summoned Chargé d’Affaires of Nigeria to Ghana, Esther Adebola Arewa, to protest comments attributed to Nigeria’s Foreign minister. In a series of tweets she responded to comments attributed to the Onyema.
“Comments against Ghana attributed to Nigerian FM @GeoffreyOnyeam that Ghanaian government is harassing Nigerian retailers for 2020 electoral gains if indeed true will be most unfortunate as relations between our two countries has always been strong.”
“August 2019 saw Nigeria close its land borders without notice to community trade. Explanation- “To stop smuggling and to protect local industries from imported/smuggled rice, etc.” she said.
“Of course, this decision ended up hurting Ghanaian exporters and brought many of them to their knees financially as trucks were stuck at the Seme Krake border for months”
She added that she visited Abuja with Ghana’s trade Minister to resolve the issue to ensure safe passage of Ghanaian goods through Nigeria’s border as they were told Border Closure was not meant to hurt Ghana.
“Unfortunately, nothing came out of these meetings so in the end, Ghana Government had no choice but to help rescue our exporters on 10th August, 2020, a 6-week nationwide exercise including market visits to assess business operating documents of traders in Ghana took off”. She concluded that the exercise would be over by September and “has not targeted at traders from any country.”