Foreign Minister Holds Talks In Abuja Over Borders Closure

Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey(MP), has held talks with Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama.

Together with Ghana’s Trade and Industry Minister, Hon. Alan Kyerematen, the Hon. Foreign Minister, also held discussions with Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment of Nigeria, Otunba Niyi Adebayo.

The Abuja meetings which took place on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, were aimed at further discussing ways of providing a path towards resolving the challenges facing Ghanaian companies and traders, following the closure of the Nigerian borders.

Nigeria partially closed its borders with Benin in August this year to curb the spate of rice smuggling which Africa’s most populous country said is threatening its attempt to boost local production.

The move is ostensibly aimed at stopping the movement of illicit weapons and other smuggled goods through the various entry points.

The closure, however, has affected the movement of goods and services from the West African sub-region into Nigeria through that section of the country’s border.

Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey’s trip to Abuja on Wednesday October 16, 2019, was pursuant to ongoing efforts of the Government of Ghana to ensure safe passage of goods into Nigeria and the ECOWAS Sub region.

During the separate meetings, the Ghanaian Foreign Minister acknowledged the long standing cordial relations and cooperation between Ghana and Nigeria.

She also acknowledged the value of the combined strength of the two countries in working towards the prosperity of their citizenry.

Hon. Alan Kyerematen re-echoed sentiments expressed by Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, while observing the compelling circumstances that led to the Abuja trip.

On their part, the two Nigerian Ministers Hon.Geoffrey Onyeama and Hon. Otunba Adebayo reiterated that the closure of the borders was not targeted at Ghana.

According to them, the closure was aimed at fighting against nefarious activities across those borders.

They explained that the said nefarious activities were undermining the security and the agricultural policies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The two ministers expressed regret for the collateral damage caused by the closure of the borders to Ghanaian businesses, traders and the Government of Ghana.

However, they noted that the Nigerian businesses have also suffered severely from the action which for them was necessary to preserve security and the economy of the country.

They however assured of the Federal Government’s readiness to work with Ghana to provide unhindered access to each other’s markets.

To this end, both sides agreed that their two countries work on a safer corridor for Ghanaian goods in transit from Benin and vice versa to avoid the collateral damage arising from the closure of the borders.

Ghana is expected to provide further information on Ghanaian companies that do business in Nigeria, goods and companies affected and those likely to be affected by the closure of the borders as well as stranded trucks at the borders to enable Nigeria’s officials better identify the Ghanaian traders.

Meanwhile, The Heads of Customs from both Ghana and Nigeria are expected to operationalize decisions by jointly working out modalities for the creation of a safe corridor.

They are also expected to address other outstanding issues relating to trade between Ghana and Nigeria.