The President of Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr Joseph Obeng has said the Nigerian government's opening of a temporary corridor on its western border with Benin makes nonsense of the ECOWAS protocols.
He claims the partial opening for Ghanaian goods in transit from Benin, and vice versa is restrictive measure that makes the whole ECOWAS affair meaningless for Ghana and other member countries alike.
Speaking on Anopa Kasapa on Kasapa 102.5 Fm, Dr Joseph Obeng said its outfit do not recognize any ECOWAS indicating it’s a useless organization, as Nigerians have rendered it “null and void.”
“Closing it borders has impeded movement. Even if it's not in respect of Ecowas, we call something neighbourliness. There was no communique like that. Ghana Government was not in the know if we had not taken it up.” he told host Kweku Owusu Adjei on Friday.
The Ghana Government is expected to provide further information on Ghanaian companies that do business in Nigeria, the goods and companies affected and those likely to be affected by the closure of the borders, as well as stranded trucks at the borders to enable Nigeria’s officials to better identify the Ghanaian traders for a relief.
The decisions were reached when the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayokor Botchwey, and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, held talks with their Nigerian counterparts on the border closure in Abuja last Wednesday.
While Ms Botchwey met with Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Mr Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama, Mr Kyerematen held discussions with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment of Nigeria, Mr Otunba Niyi Adebayo.
Nigeria partially closed its borders with Benin in August this year to curb the spate of rice smuggling which Africa’s most populous country said was threatening its attempt to boost local production.
Additionally, the move was aimed at stopping the movement of illicit weapons and other smuggled goods through the various entry points.
Ghana not target
For their part, the Nigerian ministers reiterated the fact that the closure of the borders was not targeted at Ghana but aimed at fighting against nefarious activities across those borders.
They explained that the said nefarious activities were undermining the security and the agricultural policies of Nigeria.
The ministers expressed regret for the collateral damage caused by the closure of the borders to Ghanaian businesses, traders and the Government of Ghana.
However, they noted that Nigerian businesses had also suffered severely from the action, which, for them, was necessary to preserve security and the economy of the country.
Ghana government must take a cue – GUTA
Dr. Joseph Obeng Nigeria Government has prioritized its citizens hence that is what the Government of Ghana should learn from this.
“For them, Ecowas protocols or not, citizens right is paramount. It's their country first, the economy first and not any protocol. When they closed their borders, their key manufacturers were penetrating. Look at the smuggling that goes on in the eastern corridor. Government should close the eastern corridor now. Government should begin to hold frantic talks with Ecowas commission on these matters and seek ways to protect our traders.
“If Nigeria is Goliath in Africa, we should see Ghana as David. It looks like Ghana is handicapped and our sovereignty is being compromised.”