Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey says government will exhaust all diplomatic avenues to get Nigeria to re-open its western borders for the free flow of goods from Ghana to the sub-region.
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 is threatening its attempt to boost local production.
The move, according to Nigeria’s High Commission to Ghana, Olufemi Michael Abikoye also aims at stopping the movement of illicit weapons and other smuggled goods through the various entry points.
The closure however, has affected the movement of goods and services from the West African sub-region into Nigeria through that section of the country’s border, a situation the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) said is causing its members to incur huge losses.
GUTA subsequently petitioned Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey to act on the matter.
After a meeting with the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, on 15 October 2019, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey called on the Nigerian government to take immediate steps to resolve the border issue.
“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,” she appealed.
She said 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 will be a major problem as the traders have already lost millions within the last few weeks.
The Nigerian High Commissioner, Olufemi Abikoye said Abuja would be willing to collaborate with Ghana to find a lasting solution to the situation.
“At the end of it, we’re helping our economies. The smuggling will stop and the emerging issues put on the platform and at the end of it, all of us will be very happy”, he noted.
He added, “the sub-region will be happy and Nigeria will be able to generate employment and I appreciate you Your Excellency for calling for this meeting, it actually shows your diplomacy at the highest level and whatever the concerns with respect to Ghanaian goods that are stuck at the border, we shall convey to Nigeria,” he noted.
He was emphatic that Ghana was not the target for the temporary closure of the borders, pledging his country’s commitment to find a lasting solution to the matter following the setting up of a joint task force constituting Customs, Immigration and other security bodies for the broader benefit of the ECOWAS Sub region.