By Udora Orizu
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and the new Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament, Mr. Albert Bagbin, have agreed to strengthen parliamentary relations in a bid to finding lasting solutions to challenges such as the trade dispute involving some Nigerian traders in Ghana.
The two Speakers made the pact during a zoom meeting they held on Friday.
While congratulating the Ghanaian Speaker for his success at the recently contested polls, Gbajabiamila said while he worked very closely with the predecessor, and looks forward to doing same with Bagbin in continuation of the age-old tradition of solidarity between both nations.
Gbajabiamila told his counterpart that the two countries were like siblings and should continue to explore the avenue of parliamentary diplomacy in addressing shared challenges.
He told Bagbin about the debt relief project he initiated with five other African Speakers, known as the Conference of Speakers of African Parliaments (CoSAP), saying that the Heads of Parliaments were expected to gather in Abuja later in the year to explore how they could work better together to tackle collective challenges.
He also updated his Ghanaian counterpart on his visit to Ghana late last year in an effort to douse tensions and extract commitments from the Ghanaian government over the trade dispute.
He said he would want the discussions on the matter to continue under the leadership of the new Ghanaian Speaker.
“I look forward to working with you. There are a lot of issues for both our countries, that, I think through Parliamentary Diplomacy and backchannel discussions, we can resolve for the people of both countries. I’m sure you are aware of a couple of them, including the relationship between Ghana and Nigeria in terms of our traders and residents over there and yours over here too. I think the onus rests upon both of us to try and resolve whatever issues there are. We started on this trajectory last year with the former speaker and we made very significant inroads and headway.
“I visited Ghana, I met with some of your ministers, including Mr. President and very far-reaching decisions were made and we are expecting outcomes of a report from your Minister of Trade. We were supposed to set up a friendship group between the two parliaments. That group has been set up by the Nigerian Parliament and if the list is not with you yet, I’m sure in the next few days, you will get it.”
He also used the opportunity to invite Bagbin to visit Nigeria to deepen the parliamentary cooperation between the two countries.
On his part, Bagbin said he welcomed the idea of having a better relationship with the Nigerian Parliament and that he was ready to reciprocate the Nigerian Speaker’s visit so that they would discuss issues.
He also applauded Gbajabiamila for coming up with the idea of CoSAP, which he described as a noble project.
The two Speakers concluded with an agreement to meet in Abuja before the first half of this year.