By Cecilia Ijuo
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Monday re-echoed the determination of the National Assembly to work towards strengthening trade relations between Nigeria and Ghana as well as other African countries.
Saraki made the commitment during a bi-lateral meeting with the Speaker of Ghanaian Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, on the sidelines of the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The president of the senate lamented that little was done by political leaders to harness the numerous opportunities in the continent, particularly in the area of trade.
He assured that the National Assembly would work out modalities to strengthen the relationship between the Nigerian and Ghanaian parliaments for further dialogue on the matter.
“When we get back we will try and create an opportunity to ensure that this dialogue continues and we will see how we can improve intra-trade within the continent.
“Trade within the continent is very weak and we as parliamentarians have to find a way to strengthen it.
“There will be a need to create enabling environment that will allow us to dialogue.
“So, on my part, I will commit that when we get back to Nigeria, I will ensure we create an opportunity to see to a visit to Accra or the Accra parliament visiting us,’’ he said.
Saraki said it was time the two parliaments collaborated more in view of the fact that they had many things in common.
According to him, the foundation for relationship of the two countries has been laid, the parliaments only needed to build on it.
Saraki further said beyond trade relations, it was important for the two countries to build parliamentary relations as well as discuss issues relating to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He noted that “Nigeria sees Ghana as a very close ally and a brother and as such it will be good for us to be on the same page and provide leadership in our sub-region.
Responding, the Speaker of Ghanaian Parliament said it was necessary for the two parliaments to work together in bringing about the changes required.
He pointed out that economic emancipation and economic rights of individuals, particularly Africans should not be taken for granted.
He called for a paradigm shift from relying on Western policies on trade, to formulating trade policies that would be more beneficial to African countries.
“We should create our own economic family in our part of the world and it takes sharing ideas, comparing notes, exchanging ideas and developing something tangible for the benefit of our people.
“If we are to trade effectively among ourselves, it will be a big advantage but now it looks as if other people are defining the paradigm for trade.
“If we demand a new world economic order and demand reforms where we believe certain policies are not in our interest, it will be more beneficial to us,’’ he said.
Oquaye said the time for the change was now, adding that basic economic history held that no country in the world developed economically without a certain protectionist policy.
He said if nothing was done in that regard, the culture of new colonialism would continue.
“We cannot exchange one’s independence for another by way of dependence on the West.
“If we are economically viable, the rate at which our citizens travel out of the country to trade will be minimised.’’(NAN)