[Opinion] On the meddling of government in Nigerian’s travails

by Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi
It is true that we have no business eulogizing government for doing
what is expected of it, but given the public outcry that precipitated
its action and the need for us to see more of such responsiveness, we
are duty bound to.

Of course nobody applauds a father for standing against any external
aggression targeted at his children. There is really nothing
cheer-worthy in that! But when a father, notorious for inaction when
his child is pummelled or rants to the extent that his ranting doesn’t
get to the ears of the aggressor, turns round into extracting
recompense for his injured child, then does that father deserve our
collective approbation.

This aptly applies to the Federal Government of Nigeria. It appears to
have gone beyond mere vociferating whenever Nigerians citizens are
taken for a ride into making a return ride out of it! This feat, it
has recorded in Ghana and is spoiling to bring same reprieve to our
citizens in the Bakassi Peninsula.

To quell your curiosity on the accomplishment being referred to, the
Federal Government has succeeded in securing a reversal of the
Ghanaian government’s closure of over 40 shops belonging to Nigerian
traders which were closed on February 6, 2013 for alleged violation of
Ghana’s laws on trading by foreigners.

If this hits you as puny, do realise that many Nigerians called on
government to act when the news broke out. Pundits took to the issue
x-raying it under different shades. Even the affected traders, who
told that they made the market, were unequivocal in their call for
government to intervene.

Thank goodness, the Federal Government stepped in, now the traders can
get back to their means of livelihood. This calls for commendation as
the government could have continued in its over-beaten track of not
giving a damn. It gives us a ray of hope that all is not lost.

As the United States President, Barack Obama postulated, “if the
people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it
exists- to protect them and to promote their common welfare- all else
is lost.”

The enthralling thing about this intrusion by the government is that
it didn’t startle our ears with much promises about handling the
matter, instead it swung into action and came forth with a result.
Result is the outcome of action not promise! It is as if government
knows that its pledges count for nothing to the citizens hence their
quiet approach in doing what should be done and regaling us with the
news at the apropos time.

The news was disclosed at the inauguration of the National Organising
Committee for the seventh ECOWAS Trade Fair holding in Accra between
October 24 to November 4, 2013 by Nigeria’s Minister of State for
Industry, Trade and Investment- Dr Samuel Ortom who assured, “we are
working with our foreign affairs counterpart to ensure that we
interface with Ghanaian officials to stop the harassment of our
traders in Ghana.”

Maybe, we can accommodate his promise considering the respite their
action has come about. For the agreement to re-open the shops was
reached at a meeting between the Ghanaian Minister of Trade and
Industry, Mr Haruna Idrissu and a Nigerian delegation to Ghana led by
Dr Ortom.

The Ghanaian trade minister, who pointed out some issues of violation
of mutual agreement which the Nigerian government promised to look
into, expressed happiness over the way Nigeria handled the issue.

But then one may be tempted to ask: why won’t the Ghanaian minister
express happiness when the Nigerian delegation never bothered him with
the kind of agreement it was that the other party(Nigeria traders) are
oblivious of and that contravenes an extant ECOWAS protocol to that
effect?

Again, why won’t Mr Idrissu be happy when we didn’t give his country
the Mosaic Law treatment of, in the same measure, closing their shops
here in Nigeria? Oh, I forgot that we don’t have much of their shops
around. Their country is now so flourishing that gone are the days
when they and their businesses were so ubiquitous in our country.

While government commands compliments for achieving expected result as
regards the closure of Nigerian shops debacle, it will be more
instructive for the Nigerian government to do more in retaining
Nigerian businessmen in the country instead of allowing them relocate
to develop other lands and get badgering in return.

Dr Ortom whose ministry is key to trade and investment in this country
should use what is happening to Nigerians in Ghana, nay other
countries, as a springboard into executing such policies that will
make Nigeria more investment friendly for Nigerians and non-Nigerians.

For only then will there be no need for him and other government
officials to leave their duty posts here in Nigeria to go and massage
the egos of the Ghanaian authorities into unlocking the shops of
Nigerians that should not be locked in the first place! And for the
Minister’s promise of working to stop further harassment of Nigerian
traders in Ghana, it’s hoped he lives up to that.

Still on the country standing up in defence of its citizens, the
Minister of Interior, Mr Abah Moro, has assured Nigerians living in
the Bakassi Peninsula that the federal government was taking measures
to protect them from the belligerence of the Cameroonian gendarmes.

He spoke against the backdrop of some 17 Nigerians feared killed with
1900 others displaced when the gendarmes attacked them in their
village- Efut Obot Ikot. Indeed, many are the afflictions of
Nigerians, but it is incumbent on the government to deliver us from
them all. For that is the prime reason for government’s actuality!

Ugochukwu writes from Lokoja. You can follow him on twitter via @ugsylvester.

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