Nigerian Business owners in Ghana have staged a protest to the secretariat of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja over the closure of Nigerian owned businesses in Ghana by the government.
The protest affected activities at the secretariat as the protesters marched through the streets of Yakubu Gowon Way in Asokoro, causing massive traffic holdup in the area; motorists spent hurs in traffic.
Placards could be seen among the protesters with messages like;
‘We need ECOWAS intervention’; ‘Ghana, re-open Nigeria’s shops now’; ‘ECOWAS, the situation in Ghana is totally unacceptable’; and ‘Ghana wants AfCTA secretariat but clamps down on African traders’ including dozens of others.
Addressing the protests, the President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANT) in Ghana, Mr. Ken Ukaoha said the government of Ghana was victimizing Nigerian business owners in the country.
He cited the fact that although Ghana was a signatory to the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of goods and services, a law was recently passed by the Ghanaian parliament seeking to make the business environment of the country hostile to foreign investors.
He further added that the association had also written petitions to the President of ECOWAS, Jean-Claude Brou, as well as the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on the development.
The NANT President reiterated that having taken the aforementioned steps, it was giving the continental commission a one-week ultimatum to intervene in the matter.
The group further threatened that if nothing was done, it would deploy all its members to occupy the premises of the ECOWAS Secretariat.
Read a copy of the statement below;
This is a save our soul call and the urgency of this protest is to inform you of the state of fear, uncertainty and insecurity that Nigerian traders are currently subjected to in the hands of the government and people of Ghana in different cities under the coordination of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
You are very much aware that we wrote you, raised the alarm and reported to the commission several times of the discriminatory and unfair treatment meted to Nigerian traders and Nigerian-owned small businesses in Ghana when the Ghana Ministry of Trade and Industry issued a public notice and gave an ultimatum that all non-Ghanaians should move out of markets on the 27th of July, 2018.
In August 2018, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the GIPC and the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations in joint operations established a task force with specific mandate to clamp down on Nigerian traders and which had eventually resulted in the ongoing closure of over 400 Nigerian traders’ shops and lawfully established businesses in Kumasi, Ashanti region of Ghana.
Our members are shut out of their business premises in pursuance of the eviction order dated July 27, 2018 demanding that we must have $1m as minimum foreign investment capital to do business in Ghana.
This development is reminiscent of the Ghana Must Go era in Nigeria when the Nigerian Government under General Buhari as a military dictator deported thousands of Ghanaians, blaming them for the state of the economy.
It also brings to fore in more recent times the xenophobic attacks in South Africa where foreign African persons and businesses were targets of violence and arson by the local communities.