Speaker of Nigeria's House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on the Government of Ghana to revisit the $1m business capital law, which has become a pain in the neck of Nigerian business owners in the country.
Recall that Nigerians living in Ghana had in the past decried alleged maltreatment in the hands of Ghanaian authorities after security operatives forcefully locked up their shops including those whose papers and tax payments were up to date.
President, National Association of Nigerian Traders, Ken Ukaoha, had revealed this while bringing the attention of the Nigerian Government to the latest attack on them in the country.
However, during a 'Legislative Diplomacy' bilateral meeting with Ghanaian lawmakers and some top government officials as part of his ongoing visit to Ghana to resolve the crisis, Gbajabiamila implored the Ghanaian Government to explore alternative and less aggressive options for Nigerian traders.
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.
"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.”
In his response, Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, said, “The incidence that has occurred where some shops were locked up must have risen out of situations where there were clear abuses of the application of the laws.
“I was happy that the Nigerian Speaker of the House of Representatives mentioned that if they are doing legitimate business, please allow them as brothers and sisters to continue to do so. I want to give you that assurance that that will be the case.”