…As PENGASSAN calls for oil industry reform***
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has said respite is coming the way of the Nigerian business community in Ghana as the government of the West African country has promised to reconsider its policy on foreign businesses, following his intervention.
Ekweremadu said the implementation of the policy had led to the shutting of over 400 shops owned by Nigerians in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
The lawmaker, who is a former Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States, gave the indication on his Facebook page on Sunday, following his discussions with the Regional Minister of the Ashanti Region, Simon Osei-Mensah.
The Government of Ghana in August this year ordered the sealing off of over 400 shops belonging to Nigerians at the expiry of an eviction order issued by the Ministry of Trade.
Ekweremadu noted that the freedom of the peoples of the sub-region to ply their trades in any part of West Africa was central to the prosperity of ECOWAS.
He said, “I spoke with the Regional Minister of Ashanti, Ghana, my brother and former deputy at the ECOWAS Parliament, Simon Osei-Mensah, over the weekend on the pains of the Nigerian business community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana on the sealing off of over 400 Nigerian-owned shops in Ghana, especially in Kumasi.
“We shared thoughts on the need to uphold the spirit and letters of the various ECOWAS Protocols as well as the pursuit of the ECOWAS Vision 2020, which aims at a transition from an ECOWAS of states to ECOWAS of peoples.
“Osei-Mensah assured me of the safety of Nigerian businesses and people in Ghana, noting that he would personally take up the matter with the authorities to ensure that the shops were reopened immediately.”
Ekweremadu added, “Nigeria and Ghana have come a long way and it is my hope that we will continue to nurture this relationship for the mutual benefit of our respective countries.
“Meanwhile, I am in touch with the Nigerian business community in Ghana, including the National President, Nigerian Union of Traders Associations, Ghana, Mr Chukwuemeka Nnaji, and I have urged them to remain calm, law-abiding and continue to live in peace with their hosts in the spirit of African and ECOWAS brotherhood.”
In the meantime, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has highlighted the need to reform the nation’s oil and gas industry in a bid to ensure economic development.
PENGASSAN, in its Independence Day message to Nigerians, said the government must resolve to address the gaps in the legal framework guiding operations and activities in the oil and gas industry through the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
Noting that the PIB had suffered several setbacks, the President, PENGASSAN, Mr Francis Johnson, said, “The bill, when passed, will attract and retain more investments. We believe that the benefits derived from a reformed oil and gas sector will assist in the development of other sectors of the economy to prepare the country for the future of a nation without oil.”
According to the association, the Independence Day anniversary affords Nigerians the opportunity to review the progress made so far as a nation in its socio-economic and political journey, and to appreciate the sacrifice of thousands of forefathers who laid down their lives to make the country breathe the air of freedom and to keep Nigeria as one united and indivisible nation.
It said while the country had managed to stay together as a nation with abundant human and natural resources that could make it great, a lot of work would be required for the country to take its rightful place in the global stage.
The statement read in part, “Nigeria has had 19 years of uninterrupted democratic rule. It is also right to say that Nigerians have made a lot of progress in the field of agriculture, commerce, banking, and manufacturing.
“However, there are many challenges that must be surmounted for us to be a great nation indeed. Issues of insecurity, infrastructural decay, nepotism, unemployment, impunity, illegal migration, capital flight, abuse of power and recklessness of the political class continue to dominate national discourse.”