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Ghanaian Traders Lament Over Nigeria Border Closure

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Traders in Ghana have labeled Abuja’s decision to continue shutting its border as needless and un-African. On the contrary, Nigeria claims the border closure has spurred local production and reduced arms smuggling.

Ghanaian trader Gabriel Nartey says the Nigerian border closure has negatively affected business

Gabriel Nartey casts a sad look as he sits idly in his spare parts shop located in Ghana’s capital Accra. The 50-year-old trader complained that he has not seen business this bad. “I am stuck, I am losing customers because I don’t have what they need,” Nartey told DW in an interview. “I don’t know what to do, it’s just a few who can go to China, which is more expensive than I can manage, but for those like us who rely on Nigeria only, it is challenging for us.”

When Nigeria decided to close its border with Benin in August 2019, Ghanaian traders initially downplayed the move hoping that they could cope with the momentary interruption. “Right from the word go, we were not worried about the border closure,” Clement Boateng, National Organizer of Ghana’s Union of Traders Association, told DW. “It is Nigeria’s right, but what we thought was not right was Nigeria’s refusal to give prior notice to its ECOWAS citizens,” Boateng said.

Nearly six months later, Abuja has shown no interest in re-opening its border. President Muhammadu Buhari’s government had raised hopes that goods may start flowing in and out by January 31. But Nigeria’s Comptroller-General Hameed Ali says that is no longer the case: “Certainly not the end of January. When we initially closed the border, we intended to get our neighbours to adhere to the ECOWAS protocol on transit goods,” Ali told DW in an interview.

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Nigeria ‘happy’ with the border closure

Nigeria says after it closed the border, it has reaped more good than bad. “We discovered that our economy is completely bastardized because we Nigerians have not learned to consume what we produce. And therefore, our industries are not able to produce and enhance their production,” Nigeria’s top customs official, Ali, said.

“What we are trying to do now by this border closure is to get Nigerians to consume what we produce and produce what we consume because that’s the only way that our economy would grow.”

Ali’s sentiment is shared by many Nigerians who have long complained that other ECOWAS member states have been taking advantage of the regional body’s free trade and movement agreement to dump illegal and sub-standard goods in Nigeria.

Rice farmers had taken the government to task over what they called cheap imported rice that was making its way into the Nigerian market via Benin. 

Peter Dama, Chairman, Rice Millers Association of Nigeria, (RIMAN), boasted to DW about the positive impact of the closed border. “It has raised our production because we have markets now,”Dama said.

“The mills are operating, we had dead mills that were not operating before, but now you find that everywhere mills are coming up. We are producing, and trying our best to feed the nation.”

According to Ali, Nigeria’s local poultry industry has been given a boost following the border closure. “Our big hotels in Nigeria used to buy eggs from Ghana. With the border closure, we have compelled them to buy the eggs from our [Nigerian] poultry farmers,” Ali proudly said. “They are now expanding. An economy that does not have an industrial base can never claim to be an economy.”

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Ghana caught between a rock and a hard place

At a recent meeting held in London, Ghana’s President Nana Akuffo-Addo acknowledged the need for Nigeria to protect its citizens but, at the same time, pleaded with his Nigerian counterpart to consider re-opening the border. He noted that Nigeria is essential for specific categories of business people in Ghana.

President Nana Akuffo Ado of Ghana

For trade unionist Boateng, President Akufo-Addo needs to do more than just diplomacy. “Nigeria has shown us that when it comes to ECOWAS protocols, they don’t care because they put their citizens first,” Boateng said. “That is why we think our Ghanaian government needs to implement some of the local laws that can protect the local people, especially regarding the influx of foreigners in the retail trade.”
Boateng said the closure is not affecting only Ghanaian traders. “A lot of Nigerians have businesses here in Ghana, and since the closure, they have also spoken bitterly against their government.” He said they had been forced to be creative to deal with the current situation. “We can’t tell those who trade in Nigeria to sit down and fold their hands, we have to find alternative means, and we have been able to find so many places where we can get the goods from.”

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Should Ghana close its border too?

Many Nigerians such as Peter Dama would rather see the border kept shut: “As far as I am concerned, it [the border closure] can be forever,” Dama said. “This is because it will stimulate the economy, it will help the nation to become self-sufficient, and it will help us to create jobs,” Dama added.

Dama and other officials argue that by keeping the border closed, all the security challenges that the country has had arms smuggling particularly can now be effectively dealt with.

However, Clement Boateng of Ghana Traders Association, said a similar move would be counter-productive.”There is no need for Ghana to close its borders. Ghana does not share a border with Nigeria. We share a border with Togo, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast, and they are not the ones that have shut down their borders,” Boateng said. “It is not necessary, and it is not something that I would encourage the government to do. It is needless.”

Ghana’s trade union official Clement Boateng says like Nigeria, Ghana should do more to protect local retailers

Back in Gabriel Nartey’s car spare parts shop, not one customer has come in a while talking to him. His frustration is evident; his finger of blame remains squarely on Buhari. “It is rather unfortunate for Africa and not just for Ghana because Nigeria is the centre for the market at the moment,” Nartey said. “Such a thing would not move Africa forward. Young people are trying to make a living to make Africa move forward. For all, I know it is not helping business at all.”

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China Releases Two Canadian Detained For Morethan 1000 Days

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China Releases Two Canadian Detained For Morethan 1000 Days
Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor (right), two Canadian citizens detained in China on espionage charges, have been released after nearly three years, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
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China Releases Two Canadian Detained For Morethan 1000 Days

Two Canadians detained by China for nearly three years have been released, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday night.

Trudeau said Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor boarded a plane headed for Canada at about 7:30 p.m. ET Friday night and would land in Canada sometime Saturday.

“These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal for the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance and grace and we are all inspired by that,” said Trudeau at a late evening news conference in Ottawa.

Trudeau would not discuss details about how their release came about but he thanked Canadian
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been held in China since late 2018. They were arrested on espionage charges in China shortly after the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant related to the company’s business dealings in Iran. However, China has consistently denied that the cases were in any way connected.

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Earlier Friday, the United States Department of Justice and Meng reached an agreement to defer prosecution of US charges against her until late 2022, after which point the charges could be dropped.

China Releases Two Canadian Detained For Morethan 1000 Days

The US case centered on whether Meng misled HSBC bank about Huawei’s relationship with an Iranian subsidiary, Skycom, which the US alleges would have violated US sanctions against Iran.

Meng appeared virtually in a court in Brooklyn, New York, and pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.

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However, as part of the deal, Meng confirmed the statement of facts in the deferred prosecution agreement are true. Those facts include that she misrepresented Huawei’s relationship with Skycom to HSBC, according to court documents. If she says or implies otherwise, it could violate the terms of the deal and result in her prosecution.
CNN affiliate CTV News says it has confirmed that Meng left Canada aboard a private jet Friday evening.

Cnn.com

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UNGA: Boko Haram Still Functional in Nigeria But Too Weak Now – Buhari Tells World Leaders

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UNGA: Boko Haram Still Functional in Nigeria But Too Weak Now - Buhari Tells World Leaders
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UNGA: Boko Haram Still Functional in Nigeria But Too Weak Now – Buhari Tells World Leaders

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said that Nigeria will spare no efforts at getting rid of Boko Haram terrorists, especially in the North-East part of the West African nation.

Buhari also said that though the insurgent group has been weakened by the defence forces, it is still active in the country, preying on soft targets.

He stated this on Friday while addressing over 80 world leaders at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Addressing the world leaders including the new UNGA President, Abdulla Shahid of Maldives, Buhari said, “Mr President, terrorism continues to dominate security discourse worldwide. In Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorist group though fragmented by internal strife and weakened by our defence forces is still active and preying on soft targets.

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UNGA: Boko Haram Still Functional in Nigeria But Too Weak Now – Buhari Tells World Leaders

“Nigeria will continue to work closely with the UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and entities with a view to bringing this scourge to an end.

“Nigeria has spared no efforts in addressing the challenges of terrorism posed by the activities of Boko Haram in North-East Nigeria, the Lake Chad region as well as banditry in the North-West and the North-Central. The Nigerian Security Forces have recorded considerable success in the fight against terrorism. As a result of the renewed vigour of our military, many terrorist fighters are voluntarily surrendering to our security forces.”

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The President lamented that Nigeria was concerned about illicit trading and movement of small arms which he said has been increasing criminality and insurgency in the country.

Buhari added, “Mr President, Nigeria remains deeply concerned about the illicit transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons. Their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many regions of the world have had socio-economic consequences, especially on the continent of Africa.

“It is on this note that my delegation calls for the worldwide application of the arms trade treaty to curb and define accountability in conventional arms trading which is critical to the security of nations.

“This is in recognition of the need for a broad-based global partnership in the ongoing battle against trans-border crimes including terrorism and piracy.

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“Mr President, we must deal not only with the symptoms of conflict but also the causes that started the conflict in the first place. These include poor and undemocratic governance, human rights abuses, poverty, ignorance, injustice and inequality.

“There are no easy solutions to these problems, they require long-term investments and more effective international cooperation.”

Buhari also said that the democratic gains recorded in West Africa are now being eroded by the activities of power grabbers in the region, a thinly veiled reference to recent military takeovers in Mali and Guinea, both in West Africa.

He, however, restated that Nigeria supports the efforts of the continental and regional blocs including the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States at solving the issue.

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Boris Johnson Warns World Leaders They Have 1000 Hours To Tackle Climate Change

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Boris Johnson Warns World Leaders They Have 1000 Hours To Tackle Climate Change
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Boris Johnson Warns World Leaders They Have 1000 Hours To Tackle Climate Change

He told them they face “the most important period in the history of the planet” as he prepares to get them to thrash out an agreement to save the world.

The PM faces an uphill struggle ahead of his summit as India, the US, China and dozens of our own allies are still failing to do enough to tackle climate change – or cough up enough cash to stop it.

Top experts slammed big beasts for dragging their heels in setting tough emissions targets to stop the planet changing beyond all recognition.

Mr Johnson turned his fire on his own pals in the G20, urging them “show the leadership the world needs” and “do our duty by others less fortunate than ourselves” to make his COP26 summit a roaring success.

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He told the Major Economies Forum yesterday they must come together with “rock solid commitments” to “protect our planet and protect humanity for a thousand years to come”.

And rich nations must “get serious about filling the $100billion pot that the developing world needs to do its bit”, he demanded, after it was revealed it was still $20billion short.

Boris Johnson Warns World Leaders They Have 1000 Hours To Tackle Climate Change

Experts at the UN said that the goals set so far this year will not close the emissions gap – meaning the world is likely to miss targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Under countries’ current pledges, global emissions will be 16 per cent higher in 2030 than they were in 2010 – far off the 45 per cent reduction by 2030 that scientists say is needed to stave off disastrous and irreversible climate change.

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Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India and China were among a handful of countries rated “critically insufficient” or “highly insufficient” by a recent climate tracker.

Even the EU, Germany and Norway were rapped as not doing enough to meet the Paris agreement goals.

The PM and President Biden will twist arms at the UN General Assembly summit in New York next week, where climate change is expected to be the number one issue on the agenda for the UK, which is hosting the global summit.

The PM and climate tsar Alok Sharma have been rallying countries to raise cash and submit new plans in the run up to the summit, where 100 world leaders have said they will attend, but efforts have been hampered by big nations dragging their feet.

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Mr Sharma said yesterday the frank reports were a “stark reminder of how urgent our work is ahead of COP26”.

He stressed: “This is a clear wake-up call for all of us – we need to act.” Downing Street said the PM was “disappointed there hasn’t been as much progress recently as there should have been”.

The Prime Minister also set out that the UK will be among the first signatories of the Global Methane Pledge, a US-EU initiative to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to levels during the 2020s.

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