The Nigerian Catholic Community in Ghana have extended an appeal to the governments of Nigeria and Ghana to work together to ensure that all disputes relating to trade are speedily resolved to the benefit of citizens of the two countries..
“Over the years, the relationship between Ghana and Nigeria, has been very cordial and this is God’s design as geographically, our two countries are surrounded by French Speaking countries and bond of unity keeps waxing stronger and stronger as citizens of the two countries freely move and interact with each other, to the glory of God we inter marry,” said George Olajide, the President of the St. Francis of Assisi Society (Nigerian Community) in the Accra Archdiocese.
The two sides have been in dispute for many years following confusion over whether to apply local laws which forbid foreign participation in retail trade or an ECOWAS treaty that allows citizens of member states to move freely and establish economically in other member states.
Ghana’s law does not allow non-Ghanaians or non-citizens to operate in petty trading, hawking, taxi services, operation of beauty salons and barbering shops.
Over the past few months, tension has been growing between Nigerian and Ghanaian traders with the Ghanaian traders calling on the government to enforce the trade laws that prohibit foreigners from engaging in the retail business.
Speaking 300 Nigerian Catholics at St. Francis of Assisi Feast Day celebration at the Holy Family Parish, Mataheko in Accra recently, Mr. Olajide appreciated the efforts of the Nigerian High Commissioner in Ghana, His Excellency Femi Abikoye, for effectively working with the government of Ghana towards a diplomatic resolution of this trade impasse within ECOWAS protocol.
He thanked him for speedily stepping in to douse tension whenever the ugly trade dispute arise and entreated Nigerian Catholics living in Ghana to have respect for the laws of Ghana as we go about doing our legitimate businesses.
“In our nation today, 59 years after independence, peace and unity seem a scarce commodity as selfishness, wealth accumulation, affluence and influence peddling, love of material goods, and self-centredness that were seen by our patron saint-St. Francis of Assisi as deterrents to brotherhood and union with God, has taken the centre stage of our lives,” Olajide said.
“We are more concerned with material things than with people, leaders corruptly enrich themselves at the detriment of the led, little wonder our brothers and sisters who migrated from home in search of greener pastures are being harassed daily across the world due to the insensitivity of governments at home(both current and previous) to the plight of Nigerians by failing to address the power/electricity challenges and corruption which if properly addressed would solve 80% of our national problems.”
Mr. Olajide commended Nigerian Allen Onyema, who through an unprecedented act of patriotism single handedly evacuated our stranded brothers and sisters out of the recent xenophobic attacks against them and other African nationals.
This action, he said, has saved many souls and restored certain level of dignity to our dear nation Nigeria. We salute this courage and doggedness. “To those of us here (in Ghana) let us fully embrace the teachings of our Patron Saint-simplicity, humility, love, respect for others and care for nature as well as respect for constituted authority backed by law,” he stated.
He added: “I entreat each and every one of us to support and assist one another in the spirit of true Christian charity and be worthy role models to our younger ones. A patriotic Nigerian either in or out of the shores of the country will obey the laws of the land he or she finds him or herself.”
Mr. Olajide thanked His Eminence Francis Cardinal Emeritus Arinze, for espousing the essence of living in unity with one another by impressing upon Nigerian Catholics in Ghana to form a formidable union during his (Arinze) visit to Ghana in 1998.
Olajide said the theme of the celebration-Behold, how good and pleasant it is brethren dwell together in unity (Psalms 133:1) - reminds them on the need to live and dwell together in peace and unity irrespective of their cultural background and tribal sentiments.
“It is a great call to service of ensuring peace and harmony in our homes, society and country. Ours is to ensure that selflessness, fairness, equity and justice which are the ingredient of peace and hallmark of development abound in our society and the world,” he said.
Ghanaian Fr. Peter Rocky Hesse, who is the Chaplain of the Nigerian Catholic Community in the Accra Archdiocese, called on members to become agents of change by using their “guns of resolutions which is love.”
“Live in Unity for the favours and blessings of God and do not distort the peace and unity of your association”, he admonished the Nigerians and asked them “to put themselves into a disposition of fighting against all odds and evils in society including avarice, egoistic tendencies, and self-centredness.”
“It is an undeniable fact that we have different affiliations, tribes and even personality types and all of those are exhibited when we meet in the midst of all that we are to promote one thing and that is unity,” said Fr. Hesse.
He pointed out that “If we pledge to love one another and seek the highest good of the other person, our world will become a beautiful and better place to live in. let us draw our swords of love and flood our families, work places, communities and country with the fragrance of love.”