Femi Gbajabiamila urges Ghana to revisit law on $1m business capital
…seeks bilateral trade law between the two countries
…advocates application of ECOWAS protocols
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has made some far-reaching proposals that would bring an end to the attacks on Nigerian traders doing business in Ghana.
During a ‘Legislative Diplomacy’ bilateral meeting with Ghanaian lawmakers and some top government officials as part of his ongoing visit to Ghana to resolve the crisis, Gbajabiamila advocated for an amicable settlement of trade disputes through arbitration and fair judicial processes.
The Speaker also said he would be glad to champion a law to improve the bilateral trade relations between Nigeria and Ghana, noting that citizens of the two countries remain brothers and sisters.
He called on Ghanaian authorities to revisit the component of the law that requires a capital base of $1 million for businesses to start, saying as Africans, Ghana should encourage brotherliness.
“First, amicable settlement of trade disputes through arbitration and fair judicial processes. In this context, we do believe that while it is the sovereign right of the government of Ghana to pass and implement the GIPC Act, we would implore you to explore alternative and less aggressive options of engaging, sanctioning and relating with our traders and business people who operate in your country, pay taxes and contribute to the development of both our nations.
“Secondly, we would encourage you to revisit the component of the law that requires a capital base of $1,000,000. We are all Africans, we all have towns and villages, and we know only too well that majority of our traders across the continent are petty traders. The prospect of them being able to raise a capital base of $1,000,000 before they can trade in goods that may be worth less than $1,000, clearly is a major challenge.
“Thirdly, one of the things we are all proud about and the common surname that we all bear is ‘ECOWAS’ and as you know, by virtue of being ECOWAS countries, our nations and our citizens should be able to live, work and thrive in any of our nations without any form of hindrance or discrimination.
“It is in this light we would encourage that we explore how the principles and the application of ECOWAS protocols – which we are both signatories to – may perhaps conflict with the application of the GIPC Act, especially vis-à-vis the recent adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACfTA) by African nations; and also the movement towards a single currency in the West African subregion.
“Fourth, is the importance of strengthening legislative diplomacy and collaboration. Legislative diplomacy is a tool that has been used across the world – both in developing and developed nations – to negotiate, to arbitrate and to find peaceful resolution to disputes between nations. Legislative diplomacy is akin to back-channel diplomacy, which in many cases, makes it more possible for countries to debate and find solutions to problems, without any country losing face publicly.
“In this regard, I do believe that this step both our parliaments have taken to sit, to discuss, deliberate and find solutions; is a sterling example of legislative diplomacy, which the rest of the continent can follow to ensure that while the executive arm of government is performing its duties, that we in the legislature can also leverage our knowledge, our experience, the relationships we have amongst ourselves, to complement efforts in finding collective solutions to our shared problems.
“Fifth, like I said right from the beginning, Nigeria and Ghana are siblings from the same family. I for one, would be willing to champion a law that helps to improve the bilateral trade relations and reciprocal legislation between our two countries and in this regard, we would like to explore the possibility of jointly passing what we could potentially call a Nigeria-Ghana Friendship Act – or something in that line, which will help to cement into law the good relations between our countries and also create a legal framework for further camaraderie that will enable us to ensure that, when it comes to Nigeria and Ghana, our laws will support efforts to improve relations, trade and positive and friendly interactions between our citizens, institutions and our governments.
“We do not have an exact title for such a law as at now, but agreeing on reciprocal legislation that cements the friendship between our nations; and ensures that it continues to thrive and benefit all our citizens – no matter where they live – would go a long way in strengthening our relations on all levels,” Gbajabiamila said.
Noting that the relationship between Nigeria and Ghana is one of the most important in Africa, Gbajabiamila said at a time the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic impacts and the pressures on public coffers “and service delivery systems are weighing heavily on us all, it is clear that this is not a time for conflict and disagreements, but a time for partnership and solidarity.”
He said it is in a bid to improve the bilateral relationships among African countries that he has been championing the creation of the Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments ( CoSAP) aimed at identifying, discussing and resolving issues and challenges that affect growth, stability and development within different regions and across the continent.
“While our countries share a constructive and healthy rivalry in several areas – ranging from football to music, food and movie production, amongst others – we know that our healthy rivalry is based more on friendship than enmity and more on healthy competition than destructive confrontation.
“We are friends, we are family, we are one and are determined to remain so, as we continue what our founding fathers started over six decades ago. These reasons, ladies and gentlemen, is why we are here: to deliberate on how we can jointly overcome current challenges and together, build the peaceful and prosperous future we both seek for our countries and our citizens.”
He said the challenges that Nigerian traders face in Ghana are a cause for deep concern for all arms of the Nigerian government and the Nigerian people, calling for urgent action to end the hostility.
Gbajabiamila added that: “The escalation of the tensions between our citizens and our nations is nothing for either of our countries to be proud of. And therefore, as I said today at the Nigeria High Commission, it is important that we leaders ensure that our utterances and our actions; and what is reported in our media do not fan the flames of conflict and confrontation, but instead, fuel the possibilities of first de-escalating tensions; finding constructive options for resolution; and working together to effectively implement those solutions, both here in Ghana as well as in Nigeria.”
Speaking, the Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry Hon. Alan Kyeremateng, said there are many Ghanaians and Nigerians who are going about their lawful duties without difficulties.
“The incidence that has occurred where some shops were locked up must have risen out of situations where there were clear abuses of the application of the laws.
“I was happy that the Nigerian Speaker of the House of Representatives mentioned that if they are doing legitimate business, please allow them as brothers and sisters to continue to do so. I want to give you that assurance that that will be the case. Anybody engaged in business, trading, doing the rightful things, they must have no difficulties.
“Even in cases where we found that in some instances where the laws were not being followed, I, in my capacity as the Minister of Trade, had ordered that they shut the office and those who are being seen as offending the law be given an opportunity to regularize their documentation.
“I say this, being the Minister of Trade and Industry, this is not something that is new, I have always since the time I’ve been a Minister found a way of going along, so that those who needed to regularize their businesses would do so.
“Also as indicated by the Speaker, that it will be a desire to see whether certain aspects of the law could be looked at, I’m sure the Speaker will look at that request and appropriate Committees would be engaged on the subject
“As long as the laws remain on our statute books, I will like to request that, you send a strong signal to our brothers and sisters who are engaged in retail trading that at least for now until further considerations are made on our statute books, they should just respect the law because Ghanaian traders themselves are required to respect the laws of our country. And in that sense, it will be discriminatory for us to require Ghanaians to respect the same laws in our statute books and not require foreigners to do so.”
Arising from the meeting, which lasted into the night on Wednesday, a communique would be issued.
Lanre Lasisi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The call to action by amnesty international
Boko Haram has consistently and deliberately targeted civilians in and across Borno state. Boko Haram must end its campaign of vicious and unlawful killings of civilians.
Amnesty International’s findings show that, of the 43 farmers killed by Boko Haram yesterday, 16 were Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) resident at Farm Centre IDP Camp. While 10 women working in Kwashabe rice farm are still missing after the attack.
Boko Haram and other armed groups must renounce their unlawful and vicious campaign of violence against civilians.
It is the firm duty of the government to secure lives and properties within its territory. These killings are crimes under international law and there must be accountability. #EndImpunity #EndInsecurity
We are sorry Osinbajo Apologize
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has finally spoken on the ongoing #EndSARS protests across the country and the rest of the world.
There have been calls for the vice-president, who is a professor of law, to speak up on the demand by the youth to end police brutality in Nigeria.
On Friday night, the vice-president apologised to Nigerians for the slow response of the federal government to the issues.
“Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry,” he wrote.Advertisement
“I fully understand how many young people feel. Many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough. These feelings of frustration are justified.
“There are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police and this is unacceptable. We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.
“Over the past week, we have been following the protests, and I have had a number of discussions with key people in the administration that you deserve to be informed about. Transparency, after all, is a key tenet of government.”Advertisement
He said he has held meetings with governors, the executives of the national assembly and other key stakeholders to ensure justice is served fast.
“We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing. I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT (NEC), where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast,” he added.
“The reason being that only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states. The hearings will be public.
“With Mr. President’s approval, SARS has been completely disestablished, and none of its former members will feature in any police tactical units.”Advertisement
More to follow
NEC TO GOVS:TAKE CHARGE OF POLICE TACTICAL UNITS
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
NEC TO GOVS:
TAKE CHARGE OF POLICE TACTICAL UNITS
*JUDICIAL PANELS OF INQUIRY FORMED TO INVESTIGATE POLICE BRUTALITY IN ALL STATES, FCT
*PANEL HAS 6 WEEKS TO COMPLETE ASSIGNMENT
- COUNCIL ALSO DIRECTS SPECIAL FUND IN ALL STATES TO COMPENSATE VICTIMS OF BRUTALITY
Rising from its monthly meeting the National Economic Council has directed the immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality or related extra judicial killings with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other police units.
The Council specifically resolved that State Governors and the FCT Minister should take charge of interface and contact with the protesters in their respective domains.
At a meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and attended by State Governors, the Judicial Panels which would be set up in all the States would include representatives of Youths, Students, Civil Society Organizations and would be chaired by a respected retired State High Court Judge.
The Council also directed that State Governors should immediately establish a State-based Special Security and Human Rights Committee to be chaired by the Governors in their States, to supervise the newly formed police tactical units and all other security agencies located in the State.
The idea of the Special Security and Human Rights Committee in all States of the Federation and the FCT is to ensure that police formations and other security agencies in the State consistently protect the Human Rights of citizens.
Members of the Special Committee would also include Representatives of Youths, and Civil Society. The head of Police tactical units in each of the State would also be a member of the Committee.
Regarding the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, each State Government is to set up the Panel, chaired by a retired High Court Judge, with other members selected by the State Governor as follows:
*Two representatives of Civil Society groups
*One Retired Police Officer of high repute
*One Youth Representative
*One Student Representative
- One Representative of the State Attorney-General Ministry and a representative from the National Human Rights Commission.
The terms of reference for the Judicial
Panel is to –
*receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality or related extra judicial killings;
*evaluate evidence presented/other surrounding circumstances, and draw conclusions as to the validity of the complaints; and
*recommend compensation and other remedial measures, where appropriate.
The Panel’s assignment should be concluded within a maximum of six (6) months, unless it shows convincing reasons why the State Governor should allow an extension.
There would also be Human Rights Public Complaints Team of between 2 to 3 persons to receive complaints on an ongoing basis. That team would be established by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights.
It was resolved that each State Government shall also set up such a Complaints Office to which members of the public can relate by telephone or social media channels.
It shall be the duty of the officers of the Complaints Office to liaise with the leadership of security agencies, attempt resolution of complaints or otherwise guide the complainants.
Also NEC directs all State Governors to immediately establish a Victims Fund to enable the payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF TODAY’S NEC MEETING
Council also received update on Nigeria’s COVID-19 response efforts from the Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.
According to the report, state performance in testing in the last month showed that state testing in September compared to August recorded decline in 18 States and improved testing in 19 others.
The NCDC DG also listed priority intervention areas as, strengthening States’ Health Security Architecture (Strong State Epidemiology team, Functional EOC, Functional Molecular Lab, Defined Treatment Centre, Response Vehicles, Communication equipment, Resources to deploy) and the establishment and sustenance of sample collection sites.
Other highlights of the meeting are as follows:
UPDATE ON ACCOUNT BALANCES
The Honourable Minister of State for Budget and National Planning reported to Council that the under listed accounts as at 14th October, 2020 are as follows:
Excess Crude Account -$72,409,346.76
b. Stabilization Account -N47,193,630,556.96
c. Development of Natural Resources Account -N154,330,148,020.34
PRESENTATION ON STRATEGY FOR GROWTH OF MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMES) AND JOB CREATION BY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY, TRADE AND INVESTMENT
Council received a presentation from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment titled Strategy for Growth of Micro, small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) and Job Creation.
· The objective of the presentation is to bring NEC up to speed on Ministry’s Term Goals and Projects and seek NEC’S support in the resolution of key challenges to achieving our goals.
· The presentation noted that part of the mandate of FMITI is to accelerate the growth of the industrial sector and enhance productivity and boost the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as engine of economic growth, etc.
Council was invited to:
Establish land banks in each state earmarked for investment in agriculture and agro –processing;
Ensure fair compensation for land, standardize and ensure clarity in compensation rates in each state;
Adapt the 2015 approved list of taxes and levies;
Set up and investment promotion agency/one stop shop for investment-related issues including facilitating investment linkages
MSME Council should be set up in each states. These Councils should build a database of the residents MSMES which can be used to facilitate the integration of local MSMEs into the supply chains of large resident corporate.
PRESENTATION ON THE 2021-2023 MEDIUM-TERM EXPENDITURE FRAMEWORK AND 2021 FGN BUDGET PROPOSAL BY THE HONORABLE MINISTER OF STATE FOR BUDGET & NATIONAL PLANNING
According to the presentation, disruptions in the macroeconomic environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, necessitated Mr. President’s presentation of a revised 2020 budget on 28th May, 2020, which was signed into law on 10th July, 2020.
▪ The Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the revised 2021-23 Medium Term Expenditure Framework & Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP), as well as the 2021 FGN Budget, on the 30th of September, 2020.
▪ In response to the developments affecting the supply of foreign exchange to the economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) adjusted the official exchange rate to N360/US$1, and more recently to N379/US$.
▪ The projected aggregate revenue inflow into the Federation Account (Main Pool) is N6.77 trillion, while N1.70 trillion is the projected inflow in the VAT Pool Account.
▪ Out of the Main Pool Account, FGN is projected to get N3.54 trillion while States and Local Governments are projected to get N1.80 trillion and N1.39 trillion, respectively.
▪ From the VAT Pool Account, FGN is projected to get N255.46 billion while States and Local Governments are projected to get N851.52 billion and N596.07 billion, respectively.
▪ Several measures are being instituted to improve government revenue and entrench a regime of prudence with emphasis on achieving value for money. The goal of fiscal interventions will be to keep the economy active through carefully calibrated regulatory/policy measures designed to boost domestic value-addition, de-risk the enterprise environment, attract external investment and sources of funding, etc.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
15th October, 2020