By Sunday Oyinloye
When Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ambassador Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas presented his Letters of Credence to President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in September this year, he promised to build on the existing brotherly relationship between the two counties.
In his words:” I will strive to expand and deepen friendship, and enhance mutually-beneficial cooperation between our governments and people, to take Nigeria-Ghana relations to new heights. I would also like to take advantage of your personal camaraderie with President Buhari to re-energise relations between the two countries in areas such as tourism and entertainment, trade, agriculture, education for our mutual benefit. I firmly believe that in carrying out this important mission, I shall have the friendly cooperation and full support from you, your Government and the good people of Ghana”
It was on the strength of this promise that Ambassador Ibas embarked on two day working visit to Ashanti Region. His first port of call was the office of the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei-Mensah.
The High Commissioner had a robust discussion with the Minister on issues of mutual benefits to the two countries.
Thereafter, Ibas visited the Palace of the Seriki Zongo and the palace of Yoruba Chief where he charged them to continue to promote peace and unity among the people after which he engaged with Nigerian Community in Ghana.
At the Town Hall meeting, Ambassador Ibas enjoined Nigerians to continue to live together peacefully with the host country reminding them of the need to always be good Ambassadors of Nigeria and respect the law of Ghana, assuring them that the Mission was committed to the welfare of every Nigerian in Ghana.
The High Commissioner also paid a courtesy visit to the palace of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II on the second day of his visit to Ashanti Region. He commended the monarch for playing host to a large number of Nigerians in his domain and his fatherly role towards them. He noted that the relations between Ghana and Nigeria has always been cordial spanning many years of engagements stressing that the relations have continued to enjoy support at the highest political level.
Ibas said the purpose of his visit was to familiarize him with the region and explore means of further engagements.
Ambassador Ibas was particularly thankful to the monarch for his role in handling the trade issue in Ashanti Region and informed him of his advice to the Nigerian Community to always adhere to the laid down law of the host country.
In his response, the Asantehene commended Ibas for his more than 30 years’ meritorious service to Nigeria adding “I hope you will bring your vast experience as a former Vice Admiral to bear in your present assignment as the High Commissioner of Nigeria to Ghana”
The monarch who noted that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is hampering navigation and trade within the coast suggested collaboration among the Gulf of the Guinea states especially Ghana and Nigeria to secure the area.
He promised to continue to support the Mission and ensure that the trade dispute between Nigerian and Ghana becomes a thing of the past.
Ambassador Ibas was also at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, (KNUST) Kumasi where he was received by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Rita Akosua Dickson,
While informing the Vice Chancellor that the visit was a familiarization one, the High Commissioner commended her for “effectively handling the affairs of the university and Nigerian nationals there”
The Ambassador promised to work closely with KNUST particularly on issues affecting Nigerian students.
Responding, the Vice Chancellor said she was looking forward to a greater collaboration with Nigerian High Commission in Ghana and promised to invite the Ambassador to an upcoming International Day in January, 2022.
With the large population of Nigerians in Ashanti Region of Ghana, there is no doubt the visit of the Ambassador will reassure the Nigerian Community living in that area that the government of Nigeria cares for them in the face of the trade dispute between the two countries.
The visit can also be said to be fruitful taking into consideration the assurance of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II that he would work hard to end the trade dispute between Nigeria and Ghana. More so when the Asantehene is highly revered in the Asante territories (Ashanti Region and other parts of Ghana), and is often regarded as the first among equals of traditional rulers in Ghana.