Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday secured the blessings of President Muhammadu Buhari before leaving for Ghana on what he called “Legislative Diplomacy”, over the closure of Nigerian shops in the west African country.
The Speaker had last week said the closure of Nigerian shops in Ghana contravened Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) trade protocols and had called for a decisive solution between both countries.
The Ghanaian government had imposed the $1million levy on traders in the country, including Nigeria, due to certain steps taken by Nigerian government to protect the former’s interest.
Both countries have traded words over the closure of Nigerian-owned shops in Ghana, with the Ghanaian Foreign Minister citing the border closure policy by President Buhari as affecting the revenues of Ghanaian exporters.
Speaking to State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, Gbajabiamila said: “One of the issues we discussed today, I’m leaving for Ghana tomorrow to meet with the Speaker of the parliament in Ghana to look at the issues on ground, as it affects our citizens, and to try and calm things down and see if there’s a way forward.
“I’ll meet with the Speaker tomorrow, I informed the President and he’s aware of every single step that we are taking, all the way and we hope that we’ll come to an amicable settlement one way or the other.
“It’s called Legislative Diplomacy, if you remember very well, during the days when I was Leader of the House, I lead the 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.”
Asked what demands he taking to Ghana, he said: “No demands, we just going to discuss in the spirit of African Parliaments and we’ll be looking at issues from time to time as they affect African countries and this is one of them.”
On what he made of the situation in Ghana, Gbajabiamila said: “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’s going on, we have our own take. We’ll 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’s what this my trip is about.”
On the President’s response, the Speaker said: “He was happy, I believe all avenues must be explored, he believes it, he’s a man of peace who believes every avenue for peace must be exploited, must be explored. Yeah, we are all on the same page.”