By George Kwame Egeh, reporting from Volta Region, Ghana
The seemingly delay in the renewal of passports, as well as the high cost of tuition fees that Nigerian Students pay to acquire education in Ghana, among others were the top issues raised by Nigerians resident in Ghana, when the Nigerian Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Olufemi Michael Abikoye paid a visit to fraternize with the community of Nigerians living in Ho, the Volta Regional capital, Ghana.
Upon his arrival, Amb. Abikoye paid a courtesy call on the Regional Minister for the Volta Region, Dr. Yao Archibald Letsa and the Regional Police Commander, DCOP Nana Asomah Hinneh before finally arriving at the Municipal Assembly hall where the community of Nigerians resident in Ho warmly welcomed him.
The Ambassador who was accompanied by his special assistant, Omobolanle George and Head of Chancery, Ibrahim Abdulazeez Hong on his visit addressed a number of issues raised by Nigerians at the forum.
The ANC chairman for the Volta Region, Engr. Joshua Amadi, in his welcome address, highlighted some pertinent issues affecting Nigerians in Ghana, saying they included, the delay in renewal of passports and the high cost of fees that Nigerian students pay to acquire education in Ghana.
Amadi appealed to the ambassador to intervene in order to help reduce the high cost of school fees for Nigerian students studying in Ghana.
The patron of the ANC, Bishop Prof. Okechy Gilbert also decried the high cost of obtaining resident, work and student permits in Ghana, saying it cost $1,000 to obtain these documents. According to Gilbert, ordinary Nigerians can’t afford this high cost.
Speaking further, Professor Gilbert pointed that based on the adventurous nature of Nigerians, they have established their own community in Ho, an example he said was the community of the Yorubas, in Ho popularly known as Anago Kodzi.
He added that the Igbo community has also acquired a settlement that will be called the Igbo city.
More so, a number of Nigerians who do business along the Nigeria-Ghana Corridor decried the pathetic treatments meted out against them at the borders, especially at the Benin-Nigeria Border popularly called the Seme Border.
There were also complaints about the number of road-block barriers created by the police, immigration and customs service moving into Nigeria from the borders.
Meanwhile, responding to the issues raised by Nigerians at the forum, Amb. Abikoye expressed satisfaction at the way Nigerians have conducted themselves in the Region.
According to the envoy, when he visited the Regional Police Headquarters, the Police commander disclosed that there was no Nigerian with a criminal record on their watch list in the Region. This even as the ambassador urged every Nigerian present to continue to act in good faith and to continuously promote the good image of Nigeria.
The ambassador who has been in Ghana since July 15, 2017, after his appointment as ambassador to Ghana has visited six regions in Ghana, including the Volta Region in the last six months.
Speaking further, the ambassador said he has had discussions with his colleague, the ambassador to Benin on the challenges at Seme Border and how to resolve the problems faced by Nigerians at the border, adding that a lot of prayers were needed to intervene on the problems created by miscreants and government agents on both sides of the border.
Renewal of Passport
Speaking on the issue of passports and renewal, the ambassador said delays in the issuance of passport was now a thing of the past, as a new system has been put in place to enable applicants get their passport seamlessly.
When quizzed on the issue of the Nigerian National ID card, the ambassador stated that Nigerians in Ghana can now obtain the national ID card for just GH¢ 20 at the embassy.
The ambassador expressed a lot of optimism in Nigeria’s economy, stating that there were a lot of improvements going on in the economy. He said that Nigeria’s foreign reserve is currently $42.86 billion, revealing that Nigeria will soon stop the importation of rice.
On the area of power, the Nigerian ambassador to Ghana, noted that about 7,000 megawatts is currently being generated for supply. He however, added that the only challenge Nigeria has is power distribution. He said also that the issue of distribution will be worked out in no distant time.
Speaking on terrorism, Abikoyi said that the government recently procured more arms to combat terrorism. According to him, terrorist activities have been crushed significantly.
When quizzed about the menace of Fulani herdsmen, he pointed that there were a lot of peculiarities between these herdsmen, making it difficult to know where they come from, whether Sudan, Niger, Ghana or Cameroun as they are naturally settlers.
He however mentioned that the Nigerian government was currently putting together a strategic plan which has crippled their activities massively.
On inflation in Nigeria, he noted that the government is doing its best to keep its head above waters as the figure has dropped drastically to 1.6 per cent.
Against this backdrop, he told Nigerians at the forum that government was looking at creating 3,000 jobs that would employ Nigerians.
He emphasized the need to study hard and get good grades as a student, quipping that first degree is no longer relevant. He said students must strive to obtain masters and beyond to be relevant in the current Job market.
He sounded a lot of caution to students from Nigeria who are studying in Ghana, stating that there are a lot of unaccredited schools around. He warned students to do due diligence before applying to study in any school.
According to the ambassador, “the issue of unaccredited schools is on increase such that the embassy had to take steps to publish accredited schools in Ghana on its website so as to help students choose schools that are recognized and accredited by the government.”
He said the embassy now offers opportunity for Nigerians living in Ghana to purchase the UTME forms to write the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admission Matriculation Board, JAMB, in order to gain admission into Nigerian universities.
He stated that the interesting thing about writing Jamb in Ghana is that you do not need to write entrance exams into any university in Nigeria once you pass the exam here in Ghana.
He encouraged students to write to the embassy when they are faced with any challenge or problem, stating that the embassy is available to assist all Nigerians who are resident in Ghana.
He gave the web address as www.nigerianhcaccra.org, noting that Nigerians should visit the website for information on passport and other issues of interest to them.
Amb. Abikoye also assured the embassy has removed all bottlenecks and is now granting visas to foreigners who would want to visit Nigeria.
He however, advised Nigerians resident in Ghana to visit Home (Nigerian) more often, to enable them catch up with what he described as “the developments going on in Nigeria and also contribute their quota to developing their beloved country.”