Nigeria and Ghana are both located in West Africa and these two countries have, for a long period of time, maintained trade relationships. It is a trite that conflicts are inevitable and Nigeria and Ghana have undeniably had their fair share of difficulties. For example, in 1969, the Ghanaian government made an order which provided that undocumented aliens should leave the country. This order was seen as an affront and a direct attack against Nigerians since Nigerians at that time constituted a large percentage of these "undocumented aliens". The Nigerian government made a similar pronouncement in 1983 ordering that illegal immigrants should leave the country.
The ever-growing trade tension
This is just an example of an issue which has disrupted diplomatic trade relations between the two countries. In fact, it was reported sometimes in 2020 that some Ghanaians were maltreating Nigerian traders who are in Ghana. To put it in the exact words of the president of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANT), Ken Ukoha, while speaking with DW, said that Nigerians who have been doing business in Ghana have been harassed. Their shops are being closed, with all sorts of molestation and intimidation". This led to a lot of murmuring and complaints against the Ghanaian Government. Similarly, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, President of the Nigeria Union of Traders Association in Ghana, lamented stating "It's a shame to Africa, fighting among ourselves, it's quite a shame. How can people from other regions take us seriously when we have rules we cannot obey, when we have protocols we can't follow. How can we relate with people outside this block? They will not take us seriously."
As a response to these claims, Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey noted that August 2019 saw Nigeria close its land borders without notice to community trade justifying it as a step taken ‘To stop smuggling and to protect local industries from imported/smuggled rice, etc.’ She affirmed that the decision ended up hurting Ghanaian exporters and brought many of them to their knees financially as trucks were stuck at the Seme Krake border for months. The Ghanaian government stated as their defence that a lot of shop owners in Ghana(Nigerians included) have failed to comply with the Ghanaian government laws, hence the closure. It is, however, pertinent to mention that Ghana’s Minister for Trade and Industry intervened and promised that such closed shops will be reopened pending compliance with the required laws.
Both Ghana and Nigeria are currently facing economic crises. In fact, this has been further worsened by the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic which has made both countries spend huge sums of money in combating the virus. Also, the economies of both countries suffered due to the fact that they experienced lockdown for many months. Due to these and other factors, the economies of both countries have been severely affected. Therefore, it could be argued this is not the time to pick up quarrels. These countries need to encourage trade relationships between one another in order to help their economies bounce back.
It is beyond doubt that the security of lives and properties is necessary for trade to thrive. No one will want to invest in a place where he/she is not sure of the security of such investment. Hence, the governments of both countries should rise up and make proactive, concrete, effective and efficient laws and policies that will ensure that the foreigners in their countries are adequately protected and also ensure that their businesses and properties are not confiscated or destroyed with little or even no warning. Businesses should be able to have time to act.
Nigeria should create favourable conditions for Ghanaians in their country and Ghana should do so for Nigerians in theirs. Such favourable conditions include: a reduction in tariffs, cutting bureaucracy, establishing a more cordial bilateral trade relationship, etc. These conditions could ensure a smooth framework which would help to make trade thrive between both countries.
There should be a diplomatic way of resolving rifts between the two countries. For example, if Ghana's government has cogent reasons to believe that the Nigerians in their country have failed to duly comply with their trade laws, an attempt at amicably resolving the dispute should first be adopted. In fact, all discriminatory practices towards foreigners should be stopped and diplomacy should be allowed to be the order of the day.
The Economic Commission Of West African States ( ECOWAS) also has a huge role to play in promoting cordial trade relationships between these two West African countries. Since both countries are members of it, the organization can seize this opportunity to help minimize the trade tension that exists between them.
In conclusion, a good trade relationship is necessary to help in the growth and development of both Nigeria and Ghana. Hence, all stakeholders should work together to realize the creation and implementation of such laws and policies needed to allow trade to thrive between the countries. This is because laws and policies play a prominent role in cushioning and preventing trade disputes. Also, favourable trade conditions should be created, diplomatic ways of resolving rifts between the two countries should be put in place and ECOWAS should also leverage its position to help foster peaceful trade relationships between these countries.
I strongly believe that through these actions, the trade relations between both countries could be greatly strengthened. Nigeria and Ghana are brothers and though crises are inevitable, the two countries can make sure that the crises are quickly resolved and nipped in the bud so that the matters do not lead to degeneration of trade relationships between them.
Quoting Montesquieu "Trade is the best cure for prejudice. It is an almost general rule that, wherever there is good citizenship, there is trade, and that, wherever there is trade, there is good citizenship…Trade naturally leads to peace.” If Nigeria and Ghana are able to amicably resolve the trade tension that exists between them, then there will not only be economic growth and development but also general peace and stability among the two countries.
Mounting Tensions between Ghana and Nigeria call for EU Action <https://anticorruptiondigest.com/2020/09/11/mounting-tensions-between-ghana-and-nigeria-call-for-eu-action/#axzz6ZLQQG7rD> accessed September 28th, 2020
Mounting Tensions between Ghana and Nigeria call for EU Action <https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/09/10/mounting-tensions-between-ghana-and-nigeria-call-for-eu-action/> accessed September 29th, 2020
Ghana vs Nigeria: Pandemic Intensifies Year-Long Trade War <https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.africanews.com/amp/2020/09/07/ghana-vs-nigeria-pandemic-intensifies-year-long-trade-war/> accessed September 29th, 2020
The 77 Percent — Trade war between Nigeria and Ghana: A threat to regional integration? <https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.dw.com/en/the-77-percent-trade-war-between-nigeria-and-ghana-a-threat-to-regional-integration/av-54862200> accessed September 30th, 2020