Abuja — The Nigeria Union of Traders Association in Ghana (NUTAG) embarked on a protest at the weekend over Ghanaian authorities’ delay in reopening shops owned by Nigerians in the country.
The President of NUTAG, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nnaji,who led the protest told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview that Ghanaian authorities refused to reopen their shops since 2019. This however is untrue – the latest closure of the shops was done earlier this year and the statement unfortunately seems to be an effort to drum up sympathy from their compatriots back home in Nigeria who are taking Nnaji’s statements as gospel truth.
He noted that the Ghanaian authorities’ refusal to open the traders’ shops was despite meetings between top officials of both governments of Nigeria and Ghana.
He said the protest was to press the Ghanaian authorities to reopen their shops, to enable them to tackle economic challenges amid COVID-19.
According to him, the shops, which he incorrectly claimed had been locked for over one year should be reopened to enable the traders to return to normal businesses.
He urged the Nigerian government to evacuate willing traders to Nigeria. This again deliberately couched to give the impression that Nigerian traders in Ghana are suffering some form of life-threatening xenophobic attacks.
Nnaji said: “I am in talks in with my leader, Mr. Ken Okoha, National President of Nigerian Traders, and he has assured us that he will take our case up to the highest level in Nigeria..
“I am rest assured that the leadership of Nigerian traders are working towards achieving this goal; some of you, who still have funds, should also continue to help other traders.
“Be law-abiding citizens, COVID-19 is still on and lots of businesses are affected; many of us are living from hand to mouth due to the downturn.
“If you do not have anything to do, stay at home; rest assured that at the end of October, if we are not evacuated, we will keep ourselves at the border.”
Receiving the traders, Charge de Affair of Nigeria High Commission in Ghana, Mrs. Easter Arewa, said that the government would remain committed to protecting Nigeria citizens.
According to her, the letter by Nigerian traders has been received and their message will be conveyed to the highest authority.
She said: “Government is not resting on your case; it is because of you Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of House of Representatives, came to Ghana.
“Likewise, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was here. In spite of his busy schedule, he came here and met with the leadership of NUTAG. He promised to continue with the cause on his return to Abuja.
“He has not failed; very soon, your situation will be addressed because a hungry man is an angry man. It is not nice to hear that in a brotherly country like Ghana, you are being treated like this.
“We have Ghanaians in Nigeria too and they are treated as brothers, so do not worry. It is a government-to-government dialogue”.
All this is seen by neutral observers as politicking on both sides to please their respective domestic constituents. Ghana’s government intends to keep the shops closed at least until after the December general election to avoid suffering protest votes against it by Ghanaian traders. On the other hand the Nigerian authorities arte pretending to be treating the case like one where government has to protect its citizens whereas it knows the case is only a temporary case that is not life threatening and is working with its Ghanaian counterparts to resolve it through diplomacy.