GHANAIAN foreign minister Shirley Botchwey has pleaded with the Nigerian government to end its border closure and allow goods from across the sub-region into its market as the closed border is leading to economic hardship for her neighbours.
About a month ago, Nigeria closed all her land borders as neighbouring countries were being used as a conduit through which to flood the market with imported goods. Under the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) agreement, there can be free movement of goods between member states but in the case of Nigeria, most of the goods being imported come from abroad, particularly China.
Nigeria’s closest neighbour Benin Republic is a popular destination for goods like cement and rice which are imported into its port of Cotonou and then driven across the border. Exasperated about the fact that the development is frustrating its attempts to grow local production, Nigeria sealed the border, effectively ending all regional trade.
Ghana, in particular is feeling the impact of the border closure as many companies have based their operations in Accra, from where they intend to attack the Nigerian market. Asking for a solution to the crisis, Ms Botchwey recently met with Nigeria’s high commissioner to Ghana, Olufemi Abikoye and asked that the government re-open the border.
Ms Botchwey said: “As we speak, Nigerian goods are entering Ghana without any problem and I think that we should find ways of isolating the issues and the countries that you have problems with, so that Ghana’s exports can enter your market without being lumped up with all these issues that have emerged. Truckloads of goods from Ghana have been detained at the Seme border between Benin and Nigeria for weeks and coming back to use the seaports would present a major problem as the traders have already lost millions within the last few weeks.
High Commissioner Olufemi Abikoye, replied: “At the end of it, we’re helping our economies, the smuggling will stop and at the end of it, all of us will be very happy about it, as the sub-region will be happy and we will be able to generate employment. I appreciate you Your Excellency for calling for this meeting, it actually shows your diplomacy at the highest level and whatever you cover with respect to those trucks, we shall convey to Nigeria.”