Nigeria must pay penalty for border closure -MP
By Maxwell Ofori
Members of Parliament (MPs) have raised several concerns over the closure of the Nigeria border, which has impacted negatively on business activities for Ghana, and other countries.
The positions of the MPs followed a statement made on the floor of the House yesterday by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Frank Annoh-Dompere, which opened the floodgates for comments from members.
The member for Ningo-Prampram, Samuel Nartey George, said Nigeria should be made to pay compensation to the affected traders. He called on the government, through the Foreign Affairs Ministry, to make a strong case at the next meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Since the issue broke, Nigeria has given the excuse that it was protecting its interests, and indicated it may open the border, possibly, next year. Sam George argued that Nigeria cannot claim that it was using national security concerns as a reason to hold Ghanaian businesses up for weeks.
“The government of Ghana must make a forceful representation at the next extraordinary summit of ECOWAS, and Nigeria must pay penalties to Ghanaian businesses that have suffered. This cannot go on like this. We need to also state our position. If Nigeria is looking to protect its businesses, Ghana must also look to protect its businesses,” he remarked.
The MP further stated that if member states of ECOWAS have signed on the Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol on free movement, “on what basis is Nigeria holding Ghanaian businesses?” he quizzed.
On her part, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, urged Ghanaians to remain calm, because, “we all know what could happen if there are reprisals.
“Again, we also acknowledge the fact that their concerns are genuine and we have not rested on our efforts at all since this thing happened, and the whole country is aware that myself and the Minister for Trade have gone to Nigeria to meet our counterparts. Certain agreements were made between the two sides, and a follow up case has been made by our deputy ministers and we are in the process of engaging the Nigerians at the technical level,” she observed.
She assured the House that the government is fully engaged with Nigeria, and even ECOWAS, and would sooner than later give a full report on the issue, with an expectation that by that time, the problem would have been resolved.