Mr. John Mahama, Former President of Ghana, said the total closure of the Benin border was having a significant toll on many small and medium businesses especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire that relied on inter-country trade.
Mahama made the disclosure on Tuesday while delivering the 7th Anniversary Lecture, Investiture into The Realnews Hall of Fame and the unveiling of the Book: Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa in Lagos.
He therefore appealed to the Nigeria Government to open up her border so that economic activities can resume in West Africa.
“I am sure that businesses in Nigeria that rely on supplies from these countries are also suffering. With the signing of the joint border task force agreement between Nigeria and her neighbours, I will like to take this opportunity to appeal to Nigeria to open up her border so that economic activities can resume,” he said.
Mahama said as a former Chairman of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), and Authority of Heads of State and Government, he had an abiding interest in the progress of ECOWAS and its people.
He noted that it was not by accident that Nigeria was home to the headquarters of the ECOWAS and the largest economy in West Africa. According to him, the import of the following quote from the objective principles for the establishment of ECOWAS cannot be lost on us.
“ECOWAS was set up to foster the ideal of collective self-sufficiency for its member states. As a trading union, it is also meant to create a single, large trading bloc through economic cooperation.
“Integrated economic activities as envisaged in the area revolve around but are not limited to industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial issues, social as well as cultural matters,” he said.
The ex-president expressed optimism that as an economic and regional bloc, a lot of economic opportunities were available to ECOWAS and they must take advantage of them.
Mahama said: “Back home in Ghana, I also look forward to our government’s intervention that brings an immediate cessation to the forceful and illegal closure of shops of foreigners, especially Nigerians, by members of the local trade associations”.
The former president noted that the uptake of science and technology in all sectors of our economies would allow Africa to leapfrog its development.
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