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Buhari meets Ghana President in Abuja, ill-treatment of Nigerian traders tops agenda

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday night met with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana at the Presidential Villa, Abuja as a way of opening up a dialogue over the normalization of relations between the two countries.

The Presidential aide on New Media, Mr Bashir Ahmad, confirmed the meeting on his Twitter handle, but could not elaborate on the agenda.

But there were pictures of President Buhari escorting President Akufo-Addo.

The closure of shops owned by Nigerian traders in Ghana had caused diplomatic frictions and heightened tensions between the two countries.

To drive home the point, President Buhari was conspicuously absent at the ECOWAS Heads of State and Authority meeting held last week in Accra, Ghana. President Akufo-Addo is the current chairman of ECOWAS.

He was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ever though he has always been a constant presence at all past meetings.

Analysts interpreted the absence as a diplomatic snub and protest at Ghana for its “unfriendly postures towards Nigeria and her citizens especially those living in the West African country.

In the heat of the diplomatic row between Nigeria and Ghana over its treatment of Nigerian traders, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, summoned Ghana’s Charge d Affaires to Nigeria, Ms Iva Denoo for discussions.

Onyeama had also met with representatives of Nigerian traders in Ghana, led by Jasper Emenike, the National President of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAN), and the organisation’s National Director, Ruth Ango, over the matter.

Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had also visited Ghana on September 2 with a view to seeing how the issues at stake could be resolved amicably.

According to the Speaker, the closure of the Nigerian shops in Ghana contravenes the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on free movement of citizens of member States, and trade liberalisation scheme.

The position of Ghana is seen as aggressive because the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) adopted in 1979 with an agreement on agricultural, artisanal handicrafts, and unprocessed products, and extended to industrial products in 1990, is the main framework for trade and market integration in ECOWAS as it addresses protocols on the free movement of goods, persons, and transportation.

The scheme’s main pursuit of consolidating the free trade area is guided by the National Approval Committee that informs the member States.

Similarly, Article (3) of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS on trade and market integration stipulates the removal of trade barriers and harmonisation of trade policies for the establishment of a Free Trade Area, a Customs Union, a Common Market and an eventual culmination in to a Monetary and Economic Union in West Africa.

As part of getting a thaw in the diplomatic row, Ghana had proposed a meeting between the two leaders prior to the one they held behind closed doors on Sunday.

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