The importance of Town Hall meetings by leaders cannot be overemphasized. Through such meetings, leaders are able feel the pulse of the people and know areas where progress are being made and also where adjustments are needed.
Nigeria and Ghana have robust relations. They were both colonized by Britain and their cultures are similar. Apart from good economic relations between the two nations, a good number of Nigerians either do business or reside in Ghana whose interest the Nigerian High Commission in Accra has to protect at all times. Many Nigerians living in Ghana were desirous of a Town Hall meeting for some time, therefore, they were excited when the recently appointed Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ambassador Olufemi Michael Abikoye had a Town Hall meeting with them.
The Town Hall meeting was well attended by the Nigerian Community in Ghana. The large attendance did not come as a surprise to many because Ambassador Abikoye has carried out some reforms in line with the foreign policy direction of the government of Nigeria. For instance, he has given a directive that passports be issued within 24hours while visas should also be issued without delay for deserving applicants. This he has done in order to increase Foreign Direct Investment to Nigeria. He has also been promoting Citizens Diplomacy. To him, the welfare of every Nigerian matters, whether rich or poor, even those in detention for one reason or the other.
Addressing Nigerians at the Town Hall meeting , Ambassador Abikoye, charged them to be good representatives of their country and do things that would bring glory to their fatherland. According to him, they should respect the laws of their host country and live in harmony with their fellow Nigerians, Ghanaians and citizens of other countries.
The Ambassador told the gathering that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has been doing everything possible to move Nigeria forward especially in his anti-corruption war, war against insurgency and other crimes as well as on many economic fronts. He therefore enjoined them to give their maximum support to the President and the government of Nigeria.
Abikoye hinted that the cooperation between Nigeria and Ghana has continued to wax stronger as President Buhari and President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana have met four times in three months which he described as historic .
His words: ‘’ President Buhari is driving Nigeria in the right direction, the economy is recovering fast, inflation has started coming down, more Direct Foreign Investment is being experienced and government is getting on top of security challenges. Of recent, we got 200 Armoured vehicles from Jordan, so the government is doing well.
‘’ On corruption, government is working hard to curb it. Within the last eight months, the EFCC has been able to recover N800,000,000, and millions of dollars. Therefore , I believe we are doing well as a country.”
He explained further that President Buhari has zero tolerance for corruption, a factor he noted has made some politicians and government officials to face prosecution, adding that West African countries have been coming to Nigeria to understudy EFCC. According to him, President Akufo-Addo attested to the integrity of Buhari when he ( Abikoye) presented his Letters of Credence to him.
The Ambassador said Akufo-Addo described Buhari as “ a man of honour and integrity “ adding ‘’when you have such a disciplined leader, things are bound to work well”
Nigerians who attended the Town Hall meeting said it was a welcome development stressing that such meetings would inspire them to give more to their home country.
Chief Oyeyemi Fatoyi, Ashaolu Bayo, Chibuke Moses and Ibrahim Alhassan , all who attended the meeting commended the initiative of Ambassador Abikoye for the Town Hall gathering and his reforms at the High Commission describing him as a visionary leader. It was indeed a meeting that will remain evergreen in the minds of Nigerians living in Ghana.