National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), has urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to quickly resolve the challenges facing Nigerian traders in Ghana to stimulate economic diplomacy.
Dr Ken Ukaoha, NANTS national president, in an interview on Sunday in Abuja also urged the Federal Government to be more assertive in the imbroglio.
Nigerian traders transacting businesses in Ghana have been allegedly molested, intimidated and had their businesses locked or goods confiscated by the Ghanaian authorities.
Till date, over 600 shops belonging to Nigerian traders have been under lock and key in Ghana since Dec. 1, 2019 in spite of all entreaties and interventions.
Ghanaian traders under the auspices of Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), allegedly backed by Ghanaian Government, had given ultimatum to Nigerians to vacate their business premises and locations and leave Ghana.
Ukaoha, a Trade and Economic Development Law Advocate, advised the government to equally understand that international diplomacy had moved from political diplomacy to economic diplomacy.
He explained that over 55 per cent of all the goods being sold in Ghana were also moved from Nigeria, adding that the persistent problem was blocking our exports unwittingly.
“The entire nucleus of economic diplomacy is centred on trade and, therefore, whoever is a trader, who has left the shores of Nigeria to another country becomes an Ambassador of Nigeria.
“Therefore, it beholds dual responsibility on the part of this trader to behave well wherever he or she is found, located or resident,’’ he said.
He then noted that on the side of government lay the responsibility to take care, gather and therefore educate the traders who were ambassadors in their country of residents.
According to him, there should be responsibility of ensuring the fullness protection of these traders knowing also that some funds remittances are done by these traders to the country.
“Whatever kind of political leadership that a country wants to get without looking at the protection of the economic diplomacy and interest amounts to zero at the end of the day. This is because integrity is lost and we end up losing everything,’’ he said.
The NANTS boss described the locking of Nigerians shops in Ghana as debasing and politically motivated, adding that to resolve it, ECOWAS needed to come in vigorously or reciprocity could as well be considered.
He explained that ECOWAS member countries were bound under one protocol and treaty that recognised everybody no matter the boundary drawn with pencils.
“Just as we have ECOWAS single passport for everyone, the treaty recognises every single citizen of ECOWAS as a community citizen. You are no longer a Ghanaian, Malian, Nigerian or Senegalese citizen but ECOWAS citizen, we call it community citizen.
“So, the community citizens can now reside courtesy of the protocol on rights of movement, establishment and residence, in any of these ECOWAS countries to establish any business, provided you stay within the ambits that are free from criminality,’’ he said.
He further noted that some Nigerians expected that when the issue of the crushing of Nigeria’s building in Ghana happened, which was a diplomatic force, the issue of Nigerians’ shops, locked in Ghana should have been raised.
“People should rise up to talk about it, these are Nigerians’ investments and they are still Nigerians. We must find a way of protecting them, they are contributing to our economic growth because they do remittances,’’ Ukaoha noted.