The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Mr Charles Owiredu, has hinted that the government is considering compensating companies and traders who have lost their goods and other valuables as a result of the closure of the Nigeria-Benin border.
He explained that that would help reduce the financial loss and other challenges that various companies and individuals had faced as a result the border closure.
The minister said although a lot was being done to help resolve the border closure issue, there was the need for all stakeholders to contribute their quota towards arriving at an amicable resolution of the issue.
Mr Owiredu disclosed this in an interview with the Daily Graphic after the opening of the national consultative workshop for the evaluation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Vision 2020 organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Bekwai in the Ashanti Region last Friday.
The two-day national consultative workshop, which was part of workshops being organised in the regions, was attended by civil society organisations, traditional authorities, faith-based organisations, heads of departments, the media and other stakeholders.
It was aimed at initiating discussions geared towards formulating a post-2020 road map for the sub-region and assess the achievements so far chalked up under the Vision 2020 agenda which was adopted a decade ago.
In June 2007, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government adopted a resolution to introduce the transformational ECOWAS Vision 2020.
The ECOWAS Vision was aimed at setting clear directions and goals to significantly raise the standard of living of West African people through conscious and inclusive programmes that would guarantee a bright future for the community and its citizens.
The vision is aimed at transforming ECOWAS from an “ECOWAS STATES”, where the integration process is dominated by governments and their agents, to an “ECOWAS of People” which places the population at the epicentre of the integration process.
Mr Owiredu said for a start, the government was looking at finding a lasting solution to the border issue through negotiations and discussions with the Nigerian government.
He mentioned the efforts that had been put in to help ensure that goods from Ghana were able to cross to Nigeria through the Benin border.
The deputy minister pledged Ghana’s firm commitment to the regional integration process and in particular to the implementation, at the national level, of the various community protocols, programmes and policies which had a bearing on the political, economic, social and infrastructural development of the community and its citizens.
He said for now, an assessment was being done to ascertain the state of the losses that had been incurred by the traders and institutions that had been doing business in Nigeria.
The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, in a keynote address, called on all stakeholders in the ECOWAS community to redouble their efforts at improving the lives of people in the sub-region.
He said there was the need for a congenial atmosphere to be created among all member states to deepen trade and other activities within the sub-region to improve the standard of living of people in the member countries.
Mr Osei-Owusu, who is also the Member of Parliament for Bekwai, urged all actors in the ECOWAS sub-region to do more to get the best for the people in the member states.
He commended the ECOWAS Commission for the gains made so far and reminded member states to open their doors to their fellow member states.
He said the recent border closure by Nigeria at the Benin side of the sub-region had eroded some of the gains made by the ECOWAS Commission and appealed to all to contribute towards ending the impasse.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, in a welcome address read on his behalf, challenged the ECOWAS Commission to use the various consultative workshops to find out if the implementation of Vision 2020 had improved services to member states, citing, for example, free movement among member countries.