All Ghanaian exporters with registered trucks stuck at the closed Nigerian-Benin border have been asked to return home, Deputy Minister of Trade Carlos Ahenkorah has said.
According to Mr Ahenkorah, the Federal State of Nigeria has shown no resolve to reopen the border after several negotiations with them.
“President of Ghana wants all Ghanaian registered trucks that are seated at the border to come back home. Indeed, he has asked us to go to the border to assess the situation. From interactions we have had with Nigeria, it does not seem they will open the border soon, it is very unfortunate,” Mr Ahenkorah disclosed to JoyBusiness.
The closure of the Nigeria-Benin Border has entered its eighth month with Ghanaian exporters complaining massively over the impact it has had on trading activities as well as profit margins.
Beverage manufacturing firm, Kasapreko Ltd had revealed to JoyBusiness how the closure had resulted in about a GH¢2 million loss in profits in just about two months of the border closure.
The Deputy Trade Minister further explained the Nigerian Government is still insistent on the border closure due to what the government considers some three trade conditions as part of 10 others that the Benin government failed to implement.
GUTA on the closure
The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), has described the closure of Nigeria’s trade borders to Benin and other neighbouring countries as Ghana as an outright breach of ECOWAS treaties.
President of the Association, Dr Joseph Obeng tells JoyBusiness failure on the part of the Foreign Affairs Ministry as well as the ECOWAS parliament to put the member state in check is enough evidence of all treaties and protocols under ECOWAS being ineffective.
“Nigeria has blatantly flouted ECOWAS protocol if there is even something like that. Surprisingly, the foreign affairs ministry has failed to deal with this issue, nobody is talking to this issue and for two months Ghanaian goods have been locked up in Nigeria. This act by the Nigerian government nullifies the entire ECOWAS Treaty on the free movement of people and goods,” he said.
In August 2019, Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari ordered a partial closure of the border with Benin to check smuggling of cheap goods into Nigeria.
So far, the Nigerian government insists there is no end in sight to the partial closure of land borders until the condition of smuggling is checked for the mutual benefit of all neighbouring countries.
The exercise, code-named, ‘Ex-Swift Response’, was being jointly conducted by the customs, immigration, police and military personnel and coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman in a statement, said President Buhari expressed great concern over the smuggling of rice.
The president said the activities of the smugglers threatened the self-sufficiency already attained due to his administration’s agricultural policies.
“Now that our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms, and the country has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves. We cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue,” he said.
The Nigerian President said the limited closure of the country’s western border was to allow Nigeria’s security forces to develop a strategy on how to stem the dangerous trend and its wider ramifications.
The Nigerian leader gave the reason during an audience granted his Beninois counterpart, Patrice Talon, on the margins of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan.