Chief Honourable Nkem Tony Onyeagolu (former President for All Nigerian Community- Ashanti Region) has appealed to the President of Ghana to issue a directive for the re-opening of shops owned by Nigerian traders.
It would be recalled that shops belonging to foreigners, particularly Nigerians across the country, were in last August closed down by Ghana Union of Trade Union (GUTA) and some Ghanaians.
Since the closure of their retail shops by the local authorities, things, he alleged have been gotten worse for them.
He disclosed that majority of Igbo traders victimized by the move are hard pressed financially, highly indebted and have not been able to pay off loans they took from financial institutions to run their businesses.
Things are getting worse for us. Our goods, monies and documents have been locked up and until now, Ghana government has not opened our shops. How do you expect us to survive, disclosing that a lot of Nigerians especially Igbos that were affected have died as a result of the action taken by GUTA and some Ghanaians.
Chief Hon. Nkem Tony continued in his plea that the President of Ghana His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo should at least order a re-opening so that they can sell and pay their debts and make a living.
Addressing the media in Kumasi, he described the action of local authorities as one-sided, expressing worry over why the focus should only be on Nigerians specifically Igbos whereas there are other foreign investors doing retail business in Ghana.
Nigeria has three major tribes and a number of members belonging to these three tribes do business in Ghana. Why only Igbos, he inquired.
It will interest you to know that the people whose shops were closed were one sided tribe from Nigeria and that is the Igbos and this means Ghanaians and for that matter GUTA only closed shops belonging to the Igbos. This is what I want people to be saying but not foreigner shops. They never closed any other shops apart from the ones belonging to the Igbos in Ghana, he purported.
He cited that, there are Indians, Lebanese, Ivorians, Japanese and Europeans who busily engage in retail business but their shops were not closed by local authorities.
It shouldnt go on like this. It is hurting our people too much. We Igbos are not here to take over business from our host country Ghana. We are here to learn from them and they too learn from us in turn. Thats what we have been doing.
Chief Nkem disclosed that there have been series of meetings between All Nigeria Community Forum and the Nigeria parliament to discuss the way forward of the situation but nothing fruitful has come out of the meeting.
“All Nigeria Community Forum and we here in Ghana have been having meetings time to time to discuss the way forward. We have been to Abuja on several times where the parliament in Abuja came to Ghana on bilateral visit and they promised us we will hear from them very soon but after almost a year now, our shops are still closed, he bewailed.
He gave reference that Nigeria traders have contributed in the reduction of unemployment rate in Ghana by employing a number of Ghanaian youth.
He suggested that, the government of Ghana, Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) and Nigerian Union Traders Association should hold a meeting and come out with a trade code that will peacefully regulate business activities done by Nigerians in Ghana.
GUTA and Ghanaian government should have a meeting with Nigerian Traders Association to reach an agreement and give us a security code that would bind all Nigerians doing business here so that when anyone flouts it, that individual is put to order so that we all can live in peace, he suggested, adding, dialogue brings peace.
Chief Nkem remanded Ghanaians how Nigerians for many years have been kind to Ghanaian citizens living and doing business in Nigeria, adding that the intimacy between Ghana and Nigeria is too strong that nothing can be done to separate it since the two countries are like brothers and sisters.
However, he remanded Ghanaians in an Igbo proverb which says, when a corpse of another person is carried along the road, it looks like a bundle of firewood to bystanders but when it comes to their turn they would now feel it was a corpse that was been taken, to mean that Ghanaians should add their voice to the untoward treatment meted out against them in Ghana since there are Ghanaians too in Nigeria who are happily doing businesses in Nigeria.
He again pleaded on President Akufo- Addo to intervene on their situation to have their shops re-opened.
“We are pleading on Ghana President to treat us in the same way and consider us as his own, he said, adding, if a child is hungry and the father is not around to give him food, the next persons house the child will go for food is his uncles house. We are children here in Ghana and our father is in Nigeria which is far away from us and now we are in our uncles (Nana Addo) house which is Ghana and therefore we are appealing to His Excellency the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to give us food.
By David Afum -Daily Guide Kumasi