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Opinions of Thursday, 25 June 2020

Columnist: Francis Kofi Korankye-Sakyi

Ghana, Nigeria must seek permanent solutions to address their diplomatic rift

Ghanaians woke up and were greeted with a bizarre story of the demolition of part of the Nigerian High Commission building. The building was demolished late Friday, June 19 under the cover of darkness, an action that has been widely condemned by the government of Ghana.

Ghana through its President Nana Akufo-Addo has issued an official apology to his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday 23rd June, 2020 in reference to the illegal demolition of the building on the premises of the Nigerian High Commission in Accra.

The two West African leaders according to the Nigerian presidential spokesman Garba Shehu spoke by telephone. He added that President Akufo-Addo assured his colleague that a full-scale investigation would be conducted into the incident.

While waiting for the outcome of the investigations, the Centre For African Trade And Investment Policies-Ghana (CATIPs- Ghana) has outlined some strong points as an organisation primarily concerned with promoting research into policies on African trade and investment for sustainable development. In a statement to the press, the organisation noted the following:

1. That the nexus between peace and development is a time long-tested brocard in the economics of development BUT at the same time not immune to disturbances, deliberate or otherwise by state and non-state actors. It is therefore imperative to admonish for the cherishing of the territorial peace that exists between nations as a precious pearl. We, therefore, call on the authorities of both countries to be guided by this truism.

2. We note that apart from the Alien Enterprises Licensing Regulations, 1970 (LI 670) promulgated pursuant to section 26 (1) of the Ghanaian Business (Promotion) Act, 1970 (Act 334) which restricted foreign sales agents and investment opportunities to foreign businesses that marred the Ghana-Nigeria relationship in the 1970s, the two countries have had a long history of peaceful international relation.

This must not to be disturbed overtly or covertly by any motivation under any dispensation or regime in our time. Posterity will require the current leadership of both countries to preserve and improve on this long-cherished cordial relationship for the sake of sustainable development.

3. Most importantly, CATIPs-Ghana recognises that the economic relations via the conduit of trade and investment must be the most important concern to both countries during this COVID-19 pandemic era. It is however regrettable that over the last eight months, cross-border trade relations and activities between the two countries have badly been bruised with spat under many circumstances which we deem resolvable.

Whiles these matters have not been adequately resolved to ease trading activities smoothly, one would least expect a further degeneration through such unacceptable diplomatic lapses. Whiles Ghana assumes a key position in the affairs of ECOWAS, Nigeria is undoubted “a big brother” in this sub-continental
arrangement.

Even more disturbing is the fact that Ghana hosts the Secretariat of the African Union’s Continental Free Trade Area which requires a higher standard of diplomatic and security protocols for all member countries and other missions and citizens in Ghana.

4. We fear that this incidence may affect the already fragile trade and Investment relations among these countries, their merchants and investors. It is our contention that this will not inure any benefits to the citizens and businesses of these countries in the long run.

5. CATIPs- Ghana call on the Ghanaian government as a matter of urgency to extend the sincerest olive branch to its counterpart in Nigeria to begin frantic discussions and employ every possible dispute resolution mechanism at resolving this matter in particular, and all outstanding issues that are impeding trade and investment relations for the mutual development of the countries. We equally appeal to the Nigerian government to come to negotiations with an open mind and heart to help resolve all matters as quickly as practicable and

6. Finally, we are not oblivious to the fact that Ghana and Nigeria have mutual interests and aspirations for its citizens and can both achieve much of development and progress at a faster pace if they give peace a chance to reign on the sub-continent with mutual respect for respective sovereignties, as well as upholding their international obligations without compromises.

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