GHANAIAN trading officials have stepped up their attacks against Nigerian businesses operating in the country in response to the recent border closure by shutting down Nigerian retails outlets in Accra.
Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the closure of all Nigeria’s land borders to combat growing incidences of smuggling. Nigeria has a free trade agreement with her neighbours under the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) protocol but this has been abused by those shipping Asian goods into the sub-region and then transporting them into Nigeria tariff-free.
Over recent years, Nigeria has particularly focused on rice and cement production in a bid to stem imports but this programme has been frustrated by cheap Asian imports from countries like China, Thailand, Pakistan and India. In neighbouring Benin Republic, the port of Cotonou has been used a conduit through which to get cheap Asian goods into the Nigerian market, promoting the government to close the border between the two countries.
As a result of the border closure, Nigeria’s West African neighbours have been hit hard as goods piling up at their ports are rotting away. Incensed at the loses its members are incurring, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (Guta) has launched stepped up attacks against Nigerian businesses operating in the country, shutting dozens of them down.
On Monday this week alone, Guta closed down 15 more shops belonging to Nigerians at Opera Square in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. These closures bring the number of affected Nigerian businesses to about 70 since the border dispute began.
Fearful that Nigerian business may face physical attacks, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, the president of the Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana (Nutag), advised his members to close their shops today as rumours spread that Nigerian-owned businesses at Tip Toe Lane in Kwame Nkrumah Circle, would become casualties. Police intervention and the Nigerian mission in Ghana averted a major clash between members of Guta and Nutag members on Monday.