Ghana and Nigeria are proposing a joint business council that would govern matters of trade and investment between the two countries.
The initiative is as a result of the recent high-level exchanges between the two West African neighbours over the closure of Nigerian owned alleged to have breached Ghana’s domestic investment laws.
The proposal was disclosed when the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria, Femi Gbajabiamila called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House, Accra on Thursday.
Mr Gbajabiamila, who is at the head of a Nigerian delegation, was on a two-day visit to Ghana to hold talks with his Ghanaian counterpart, Speaker Prof. Mike Aaron Ocquaye, on relations between the two nations following the implementation of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act 2013, Act 865, which Nigerian traders in Ghana say was inimical to their businesses.
Mr Gbajabiamila noted that perceived frosty relations between Ghana and Nigeria were mere “chatters” due to “misconceptions and misinformation” by people as to the real issues of Nigerians in Ghana.
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He said the relations and bonds of friendship forged over decades between the two countries, should not be allowed to wither because of misunderstandings and difficulties that could be resolved amicably through dialogue.
The Nigerian House of Representatives Speaker told the President that since his arrival in the country, he and his delegation had met and educated a section of the Nigerian community in Ghana on some of the misconceptions they held which had generated the impasse between the two nations.
He noted that during their discussions with officials of the Ghanaian Legislature, both sides resolved to undertake the necessary actions to maintain the cordiality between the two nations, because “there cannot be a talk on Africa without a mention of Nigeria and Ghana.”
“It is that combination of strength that we seek to protect, not just for today, but for tomorrow and the future moving forward,“ he said and appealed to the President to have the GIPC Act 865 reviewed to enable his countrymen and women trading in Ghana to meet the demands of the law.
Mr Gbajabiamila suggested a Ghana – Nigeria business council backed by legislation by both countries as the roadmap for a successful trade and business regime between the two countries.
“There is nothing as good as a bilateral trade agreement backed by two countries to give better results,“ he noted, appealed again to the President to give critical attention to the outcome of discussions that he had with the Ghanaian legislature in order to sustain the enviable relations between both nations.
On his part, President Akufo-Addo made reference to the strong historical relations between Ghana and Nigeria, which continued to wax stronger.
He said that he was alarmed by the tone and issues that emerged in the statement that was issued by the Nigerian information minister, and had to.speak to the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari immediately when the matter came up to find a solution to the issue
The President said it was heartwarming that officials of both countries, in the spirit of maintaining the friendship between Ghana and Nigeria, had gotten together to chart a way forward.
He praised the suggestion for the setting up of a Ghana/Nigeria Business Council to oversee the trade and investment matters between the two countries, saying, “It may well be long overdue, but the time has come for it to be done and I think it is a worthwhile step that is being taken.“
The President told the delegation that he had in discussions with his Nigerian counterpart mooted the idea of setting up a Joint Ministerial Committee to shepherd issues between the two countries and report outcomes to both presidents on how matters should be resolved.
He said he hoped to advance that discussion to a conclusion when he meets President Buhari the ECOWAS Summit in Niamey, Niger next Monday,
The President told the delegation that the government of Ghana took the concerns raised by Nigeria seriously and would seek a common ground to address the challenges.
“The review that you are asking for makes a lot of sense for our mutual prosperity, the request would be treated seriously…It is important that we preserve what has been built if we cannot enhance it,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo assured the Nigerian delegation of the safety of Nigerians in Ghana, many of whom have lived in the country for decades without any problems.
“That culture of cooperation and brotherliness will continue…Whatever initial problems we have will be resolved,” he said.