Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, denied yesterday that the country’s decision to close its borders prompted Ghanaian authorities’ clampdown on Nigerian traders doing business in Ghana.
She also revealed that two affected Nigerian traders attempted suicide recently, noting that they were currently undergoing therapy.
Dabiri-Erewa, who spoke on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise daily, said Ghana’s treatment of Nigerian traders was based on a complex of not being able to compete.
She added that the issue had been going on for years, long before Nigeria decided to close its borders. According to her, the closure of the shops has impacted negatively on the finances and psychological state of many of the Nigerian traders, leading to suicide in at least one case.
“They are not the same thing actually. There’s a reason borders were closed. You can’t be bringing in small arms and ammunition and all that and Nigeria will not take action.
“We are talking of people that have been living in your country, working very well for years. Now, I’ll ask you something; if it has to do with the borders, why didn’t they send away the big industries in Ghana? We have six banks in Ghana.
Why didn’t they tell them to leave, if they are afraid of border closure? There is the gas pipeline going to Ghana, why don’t you cut it off? “I think it boils down to this lack of trust and some kind of complex.
Because, these Nigerian traders sell their goods at cheaper prices; you know, Nigerians are very industrious. So, the reality is that the Ghanaian traders say it is really difficult to compete with the Nigerian traders. “This thing has been on for years.
In New York, three years ago, Mr President took up the matter with the Ghanaian President, and he said they are sorry about it and will open the shops.
Then they opened and closed again, to their whims and caprices. I’m sure you will agree with me that we can’t continue like this.” She lamented the fact that engagements with the Ghanaian authorities on the plight of Nigerian traders in the country hadn’t achieved the desired results, revealing that the imposition of $1million business equity on non-Ghanaians had made at least two of the traders to attempt suicide.
Recall that about 753 members of the Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana presented a letter to the Federal Government last week, requesting for evacuation from the former Gold Coast.
Dabiri-Erewa said the speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, among others, are currently looking at the request of the Nigerian traders.
She said the Ghanaian presidential election of December 7, 2020, must come and go before tangible agreements could be reached, adding: “Elections are coming.
You know there is something political about this. Let’s face it. Ghana’s President will not want to go against his own citizens and majority of the Ghanaian traders have said we don’t want them (Nigerian traders).
The NIDCOM boss said the evacuation of the traders would come at psychological, economic and social cost, and expressed optimism that the bilateral dispute would be resolved.
“We don’t have a problem at the government level; we have a problem at the people level. The government of Ghana has willingly said ‘open these shops’ but the people are not complying.
“I hope you know that three years ago, a Nigerian lady committed suicide. And as I speak with you, another two are on the verge of suicide but they are going through some kind of counselling, with the message of hope that things will be better.
On his part, General Secretary, All Nigerian Community, Ghana, Isaac Ekhator, said some of the Nigerian traders were married to Ghanaians and would not want to abandon their families to come back to Nigeria.
He noted that the evacuation request was a way of putting pressures on both governments to reach a consensus and end the trade crisis.