The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on Ghanaian authorities to revisit the component of the law that requires a capital base of $1m for businesses to start, saying as Africans, Ghana should encourage brotherliness.
Gbajabiamila was said to have made “some far-reaching proposals” that would bring an end to the attacks on Nigerian traders doing businesses in Ghana..
A statement issued on Thursday by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, quoted him as making the proposals during his meeting with Ghanaian lawmakers and some top government officials as part of his current visit to Ghana to resolve the crisis.
The statement was titled, ‘Gbajabiamila urges Ghana to revisit law on $1m business capital…seeks bilateral trade law between the two countries…advocates application of ECOWAS protocols.’
The Speaker had led a delegation of members of the House on a two-day “legislative diplomatic mission” to Ghana, to explore legislative diplomacy towards resolving the issues affecting both countries.
The Nigerian delegation, which was received by the Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament, Mike Oquaye, on Wednesday, includes Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Buba Yusuf; Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu; House Member of ECOWAS Parliament, Bayo Balogun; and Messrs Ikenna Elezieanya, Ephraim Nwuzi and Balarabe Shehu.
Gbajabiamila called for an amicable settlement of trade disputes through arbitration and fair judicial processes.
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The Speaker also said he would be glad to champion a law to improve the bilateral trade relations between Nigeria and Ghana, noting that citizens of the two countries remain brothers and sisters.
He said, “First, amicable settlement of trade disputes through arbitration and fair judicial processes. In this context, we do believe that while it is the sovereign right of the government of Ghana to pass and implement the GIPC Act, we would implore you to explore alternative and less aggressive options of engaging, sanctioning and relating with our traders and business people who operate in your country, pay taxes and contribute to the development of both our nations.
“Secondly, we would encourage you to revisit the component of the law that requires a capital base of $1,000,000. We are all Africans, we all have towns and villages, and we know only too well that majority of our traders across the continent are petty traders. The prospect of them being able to raise a capital base of $1,000,000 before they can trade in goods that may be worth less than $1,000, clearly is a major challenge.
“Thirdly, one of the things we are all proud about and the common surname that we all bear is ‘ECOWAS’ and as you know, by virtue of being ECOWAS countries, our nations and our citizens should be able to live, work and thrive in any of our nations without any form of hindrance or discrimination.
“It is in this light we would encourage that we explore how the principles and the application of ECOWAS protocols – which we are both signatories to – may perhaps conflict with the application of the GIPC Act, especially vis-à-vis the recent adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement by African nations; and the movement towards a single currency in the West African subregion.
“Fourth, is the importance of strengthening legislative diplomacy and collaboration. Legislative diplomacy is a tool that has been used across the world – both in developing and developed nations – to negotiate, to arbitrate and to find peaceful resolution to disputes between nations. Legislative diplomacy is akin to back-channel diplomacy, which in many cases, makes it more possible for countries to debate and find solutions to problems, without any country losing face publicly.”
Also, the statement quoted the Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremateng, as saying there are many Ghanaians and Nigerians who are going about their lawful businesses without difficulties, noting that the situation where some shops were locked up must have risen out of situations where there were clear abuses of the application of the laws.
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