Open Nigerian Borders, LCC Boss Urges FG
By Clementine Okonye
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the Federal Government to once again reconsider its decision to close the nation's land borders. Director General of the Chamber, Muda Yusuf, made the call on Monday in Lagos, asking government to reappraise the situation.
Nigeria's land borders were permanently closed to all goods in October after a period of temporary closure that was announced in August. The temporary closure was supposed to last for 28 days.
The Director General of LCCI said legitimate businesses are suffering due to the closure. The LCCI boss was also critical of the border closure being primarily based on the illegal importation of foreign rice from neighbouring countries.
"It's not just about rice," he said. "The (Nigerian) economy is bigger than rice."
He added that "We need to look at the wider implication of some of these policies. That is why I think government needs to rethink this policy."
Yusuf also called for the strengthening of institutions at the border and the use of technology to combat smuggling and other illegal activities.
"Many of these border points don't have scanners and those who have scanners have not functioned for two years! So, how do you police the borders or check goods coming in if you don't have scanners that are working?"
Comptroller-General of the Customs Service, Hameed Alli, while announcing the closure of Nigeria's land borders in Abuja, saying "All goods, for now, are banned from being exported or imported through our land borders and that is to ensure that we have total control over what comes in." The Customs boss gave no timeline to reopen the border.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs has assured that it has the capacity to check illegal trading on the nation's borders and prevent smuggled goods from entering the country.
NCS Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, blamed neighbouring countries such as Benin, Togo and Benin for the decision to permanently close the border. "Their non-compliance with the ECOWAS transit protocol is having a negative consequence on our nation. The ECOWAS transit protocol was signed by all members of the sub-region but some countries have chosen or somehow found it convenient not to implement it."
Attah added that Nigeria cannot fold its arms and continue to allow situations that will impact negatively on the nation's economy.
All goods being imported into the country are now expected to come through the ports where they can be monitored and be captured as revenue.
Additional reports by Bimbola Awoyele