The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, will jet out to Ghana on Wednesday to meet with his Ghanaian counterpart, Mike Oquaye, over the current diplomatic row between Nigeria and Ghana concerning the maltreatment of Nigerian traders in the neighbouring West African country.
He visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House on Tuesday to brief him on his mission to Ghana, following which he got Buhari’s nod.
Ghana had shut the shops of some Nigerian traders and also imposed a $1m levy on business owners resident in the country.
Ghana, said to be embittered by the Nigerian Government’s decision to close the country’s land borders, is reportedly hit by a drop in revenues.
Last week, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and his Ghanaian counterpart made media statements over the issue, signalling a brewing diplomatic row.
Recall also that last week, Gbajabiamila had kicked against the closure of the shops by Ghana, saying that the action breached the trade protocols of the Economic Community of West African States.
Gbajabiamila, who called his scheduled trip to Ghana, a “Legislative Diplomacy”, told State House Correspondents that he would raise the closure of the shops with his colleague in Accra.
He stated, “One of the issues we discussed today is that I am leaving for Ghana tomorrow to meet with the Speaker of the Parliament in Ghana to look at the issue on ground, as it affects our citizens, and to try and calm things down and see if there is a way forward.
“I will meet with the speaker tomorrow, I informed the President and he is aware of every single step that we are taking all the way, and we hope that we will come to an amicable settlement one way or the other.
“It is called Legislative Diplomacy. If you remember very well, during the days when I was the Leader of the House, I led a delegation to South Africa during the crisis there with Nigerians and we were able to accomplish quite a bit, to simmer things down at that time.”
However, Gbajabiamila said he would not be making any specific demands while in Ghana.
“No demands, we just going to discuss in the spirit of African parliaments and we will be looking at issues from time-to-time as they affect African countries and this is one of them”, the speaker added.
Asked to give his clear position on the situation in Ghana, Gbajabiamila went diplomatic.
He replied, “I don’t want to make any statement at this time so that we don’t exacerbate matters. Like I said, we are looking for amicable solutions. The Ghanians have their take on what is going on, we have our own take. We will see how we can marry the two takes and come to a solution.
“We are two strong West African countries and there must be symbiosis, we must work together. You don’t get anything from working at cross-purposes or knocking heads together. We must, at all times, as Africans, work as best as possible together and that is what this my trip is about.”
When asked what Buhari told him at the closed-door meeting, the speaker responded, “He was happy, I believe all avenues must be explored; he believes it, he is a man of peace who believes every avenue for peace must be exploited, must be explored. Yeah, we are all on the same page.”
Another leg of the speaker’s visit was to present the updated Legislative Agenda of the 9th House to the President.