The past few months has seen the temporary closure of Nigeria’s land borders. It is assumed that the idea to shut down borders was to tackle smuggling of contraband goods, reduce crime and most importantly a strategy for economic growth, which the country desperately needs due to its ailing economy.
Even though the benefits seems promising in the long run, the people’s concern on this sudden reform still remains whether this is the most suitable way forward or will this implementation increase hardship, seeing that it is currently bitting the poor majority.
The CBN governor had said that about 500,000 bags of rice were sold in a week after the closure and there has been an increased number of individuals and corporations setting up integrated and small mills. In essence, there has been a heavenly growth in the rice sector. Godwin Emefiele also mentioned that before the border was subsequently closed, rice and poultry farmers were struggling to sell their products, which was due to the smuggling and dumping of rice and poultry goods into the country.
Mr Godwin further went on to say the benefits of the border closure has helped job creation in rural areas and has made it easier to resurrect the integrated rice and poultry business, and amongst others. In his words, “industries have come alive”. He also emphasised that before the borders will be reopened, there must be concrete engagements with land-border countries that are involved in using their port for landing prohibited goods, which are then illegally transhipped to Nigeria.
Similarly, the foreign affairs minister said Nigeria would no longer tolerate repackaging of goods coming into the country. If it is not a properly recognised package or transported through an identifiable transport system, such products will be confiscated and importation terminated. In addition, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama noted that all foreigners coming into Nigeria through land borders must present themselves at recognised entry points with updated travel documents, preferably international passports. The Minister’s sole aim in the interview was to make known to the public how important the federal government was keen on securing Nigeria’s land borders, which would eventually protect businesses, promote livelihood and safe guide lives and properties.
However, some economist, initiatives, persons, small and large corporations have totally frowned at the temporal policy saying that because the boarder closure mostly affects food items, many will become vulnerable as over half of a person’s income is spent on household items. Nigeria is an importing nation and does not presently have the capacity to fend for its large population. This means a hike in food prices and disruption in business activities. According to these entities and what is commonly known to scholars, government reforms are expected to improve the status of an economy and not to further improvise the people. These set people are of the opinion that the untimely border closures will only bite hard on our daily lives— bring hardship to the vast majority and endanger already striving businesses.
Despite what the people think or the difficulties now faced in buying food items and doing business, the Federal Government insist that its stances towards the decision was to address and curb the fundamental challenges of smuggling and insecurity in the country. A resolution which is seen as a preferred option to boost local production and diversification. As announced by the appropriate government mediums, January 31, 2020 is the date for reopening the borders, on the condition that all agreements and operational activities are met by neighbouring countries. Hopefully, all talks and plans will equate equally with bordering allies, so that people can go about their daily lives with lesser worries.
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