Sequel to the presentation of his Letter of Credence to the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo, on August 18, 2017, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Olufemi Michael Abikoye, immediately hit the ground running. Determined to further cement the relationship between Nigeria and Ghana, the High Commissioner has embarked on courtesy visits to key stakeholders that will be instrumental to the realisation of his agenda.
Abikoye, within few days after taking his instrument of office, paid courtesy call on allies of Nigeria in the diplomatic community. He also paid courtesy call on key government officials that will be instrumental to accomplishing his goal in the country. Among them the Inspector General of Police, David Asante Apeatu; the Director General of Ghana Immigration Service; Minister of Interior, Ambrose Dery; DG of Ghana Prisons; Director State Protocol and the Chief of Protocol.
Since assumption of office, Ambassador Abikoye had visited five out of the 10 regions of Ghana. He held town hall meetings with Nigerians in Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Western and Greater Accra Regions. These town hall meetings afforded the High Commissioner the opportunity of meeting Nigerians at the grassroot level, garnered information about various challenges confronting them and it also served as a platform of informing the communities of the development back in Nigeria.
Aside the Nigerian Communities in these regions, His Excellency also had interface with officials as well as Nigerian students in various tertiary institutions in the regions, that is Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Garden City University, Kumasi, Catholic University College of Ghana, Sunyani, Brong Ahafo Region Cape Coast University (Central Regions) and University of Ghana, Legon (Greater Accra Region).
With the officials of the Schools, the High Commissioner negotiated the downward review of fees, as this was a major challenge raised by the students. The management of the various institutions have promised to look into this and have been giving positive feedback.
It must also be noted that the visit of the High Commissioner to the Ministers, Mayors, Regional Police Commanders, the paramount traditional rulers in the various Regions paved the way for greater collaboration between Nigeria and Ghana.
It is good to note that the 7th Ghana-Nigeria Permanent Joint Commission was held between October 18 and 20, 2017. This was a major landmark achievement of Abikoye as this had been pending for a long period, but his arrival made the meeting a reality.
The deliberations was meant to cement and foster bilateral and multilateral relations and the unique relationship that exists between Ghana and Nigeria. The other leg will be held soon in Nigeria.
It is worthy to note that the two countries are expected to sign nine MOUs and seven agreements, including Economic, Finance, Trade and Investments, Diplomatic Consultations, Immigration Service, Food & Drugs control as well as Treaty on Prison Transfer, Youths and Sports, Education, Culture, Transportation and Air Service developments.
Another major achievement of Abikoye is the revival of the website of the Mission: www.nigerianhcaccra.org. This website is aimed at bringing Nigerians in Ghana closer to the Mission.
As the success of the youths is so paramount in the High Commissioner’s agenda, in the last three months, he has taken turn to visit all Nigerian-owned institutions in the country to entreat them to absorbing Nigerian students and their Ghanaian counterparts during their holidays for internship in order for them to be engaged productively during the period and further canvassed for permanent placement on graduation for them.
Ambassador Abikoye is also committed to issuance of Nigerian Passport/Visas within 48 hours and immediate production of passports for Students and Nigerians from far away Regions.
With discussion with the DG, Ghana Immigration, the visitor’s visas for Nigerians is expected to be reviewed from 60 days to 90 days.
Also, in the last three months, the High Commissioner has visited all major companies with Nigerian interest in the country. These include Guarantee Trust Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, First Atlantic, Access, Energy, RegencyNem, Equity, WAPIC, SIFAX Agency, Dangote Cement Ghana and Sahara Group. Abikoye admonished them all to be good ambassadors in their dealings and to continue diligently in flying the flag of the nation higher in their respective businesses.
The first 100 days of Abikoye as the High Commissioner to Ghana have been eventful and laced with landmark achievements. According to him, it can only get better in the months ahead.