The Ghanaian Government has rescinded its policy compelling Nigerian businessmen and traders to pay a minimum capital of 300,000 dollars or have their businesses closed.
The policy also mandated the Nigerian businessmen and traders to employ at least five Ghanaians as condition to operate their offices and shops.
Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Ademola Onafowokan, made this known to State House correspondents in the advanced team of President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Accra.
The President will participate in the funeral rites of the late President of Ghana, John Atta-Mills scheduled for Friday and meet with Ghana’s new leader, President John Dramani Mahama during his visit to Accra.
Jonathan is expected in Accra on Thursday evening as the head of the Nigerian official delegation to the funeral.
Mr. Onafowokan said that the controversial capital base and employment requirements had caused a lot of furore for Nigerian businessmen in Ghana before the commission intervened in the matter.
He said that the Federal Government with the Foreign Affairs Ministry had explored possible diplomatic means to stop the discriminatory and unfair trade laws.
The envoy said that it was practically impossible for the Ghanaian authority to drive Nigerian businessmen away because of the pivotal role they play in the economy of that country.
He said that Nigerians had contributed immensely to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow of the Ghana economy.
“We have been able to speak with the Ghanaian authorities to drop the issue of 300,000 dollars and for now they are not disturbing any Nigerian.
“As the High Commissioner, I can tell you that. Right now we have spoken to them and everything is calm.
“But even if we did not do that Ghana will not try it.
“If Ghana says the Nigerian businesses should go home, both the big ones and the small ones, the economy of this country will collapse, because maybe only after China, Nigeria is the second biggest investor in terms of FDI in this country
“So they will not drive them away but at the same time when you go to somebody’s place you have to learn to conform.
Mr. Onafowokan, however, underscored the need for Nigerians in Ghana to comply with the ECOWAS and Ghanaian laws on immigrations.
He said that there are many Nigerians resident in Ghana without Nigerian passport and valid resident permit.
The envoy explained that the ECOWAS Treaty on Free Movement provides that an immigrant to a member state should obtain relevant resident permit after three months of domicile in the country.
“When people come from Nigeria across the border to this place they do not have passport and these people are saying go and regularised your stay, before you can do business and you don’t want to do it, but you want to do it by force
“But you come in, you don’t want to regularise your stay and you are very heady about it,’’ he said.
The envoy said that the commission is doing its best to educate Nigerians on the importance of having valid papers in any country they travel to.
He also called on the National Orientation Agency to take it as a challenge to educate the people before they travel out of the country.
Mr. Onafowokan said about two to three million Nigerians are resident in Ghana among which only 10,000 are registered with the High Commission.
He said that from the information it got from the Board of Trustee of the Nigerian Community in Ghana, about 50,000 members had registered.
The envoy said that Nigerians in that country are law abiding and only a handful are in the prison.
However, a statement issued earlier by Irene Maamah, the Deputy Head of Mission in the Ghana High Commission in Abuja had also refuted the allegation.
The statement said that the Ghanaian Government denied allegations that ECOWAS citizens in Ghana are expected to pay 300,000 dollars and employ 10 Ghanaians before setting up businesses in the country.
It said that the Ghana Investment Promotion Commission (GIPC) Act of 1994, stipulates that foreign traders are expected to invest 300,000 dollars in trading activities, employ at least 10 Ghanaians and operate in any commercial area, not a market.
It stated that the Act does not prevent foreigners from trading in Ghana but allows foreigners to trade on a large-scale while petty trading is reserved for Ghanaians.
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