Update on Nigerian Border Closure
Morning Crossfire show on 99.3 Nigeria Info today, anchored by Sheriff Quadri seeks to assess the impact and implications of the border closure on the Nigerian Economy and its impact on diplomatic relation.
Reports by Punch Mobile News reveal that Nigeria first closed its borders in 1984-85, during President Buhari regime as Major-General. In the days leading up to the 2015 general election, borders were also closed off to prevent foreigners from crossing into the country to vote. Since August 2019, Nigeria's borders have been PARTIALLY closed in government’s attempt to curb smuggling and encourage self-sufficiency.
Federal Government also said that Nigeria’s borders will remain closed until the country and its neighbors agree on existing ECOWAS protocol regarding movement.
How much self-sufficient is Nigeria at this moment?
Is border closure the ONLY way to curb smuggling?
What impact does this have on traders and businessmen as well as SMEs?
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) believes that Nigeria is Africa’s largest rice importer, and currently faces challenges in the agriculture sector like: an outdated land tenure system that constrains access to land, a very low level of irrigation development with less than 1 percent of cropped land under irrigation, limited adoption of research findings and technologies, high cost of farm inputs, poor access to credit, inefficient fertilizer procurement and distribution, inadequate storage facilities, and poor access to markets.
Also according to Reuters Africa, the government puts the cost of importing rice and wheat into the country at almost $4 billion a year. This is because the 190 million people rely on imports for most of what they consume due to limited manufacturing capacity.
In 2018, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele reported Nigeria had succeeded in reducing the importation of food items by 60 per cent from 2015 to date, adding that the government, in the process, saved $800 million.
Maureen Ogolor, 99.3 Nigeria Info Lagos correspondent went out and talked to people. One respondent she met said that now she buys things higher than before. So she has reduced what she buys so that they can still be in business.
Another respondent on Nigeria Info 99.3 Facebook platform said anything that will generate revenue for governments is usually treated fast. But anything that will benefit common people in the country will take years to solve.
However, some people believe it is good for the economy to have the borders closed. Whereas, some people believe it would have been good to ban things like foreign drugs from entering Nigeria.
Lasisi, operating around border issues, says smuggling activities cannot be totally eradicated but can be brought to the barest minimum. He referred to Mexico, a country known for producing drugs and smuggling these illegally into other country.
Lasisi does believe that custom officials may be involved in the corruptions that is affecting imports and exports. “Customs are not the only ones at the border. If you tell all of them to report whatever they see and if they fail to do so, this is how they will be dealt with, I believe everybody will sit up,” Lasisi says.
“Government should subsidize and make life easy for Nigerians. Total closure of the border is not the solution to any economy.”
Some callers on the show believe that the Nigerian border should remain closed until Benin Republic adheres to the Nigerian government's requests. Others pointed to the influx of foreigners as a bigger problem. One caller, Baba G, said that many okada riders are not Nigerians and that government should be worried about that.
Pastor Oladipo refers to the fact that the problem is with the beaurocracy attached to the Nigerian border. This, according to him is the reason why Nigerians prefer to make use of other friendly borders.
Is it true that border closure smirks of inefficiency? Is Nigeria still unable to produce enough rice for citizens to eat?
Watch the show and leave your comments
Lasisi Fanu – Chapter Chairman Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agent Seme Border
Written by Jude Chukwuemeka