- Experts kick, say it will increase inflation
- Rice farmers hail policy
The Federal Government Monday announced a total ban on the importation and exportation of goods through the land borders nationwide. It was gathered that the decision was in furtherance of the on-going joint border operation, tagged, Exercise Swift Response.
Daily Trust reports that the operation began on August 20, 2019, involving the Nigeria Customs Service and the Immigration Service with support from the Army and other security agencies.
The joint border security is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and covers the four geopolitical zones including South-south, South-west, North-central and the North-west.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) said: “The issue of movement of goods is not the same thing with movement of persons. Let’s understand that all perishable items are on prohibition whether on export or import. Therefore nobody can carry tomato to the border to import or export. So it makes it easier for us to close and ensure that all goods for now are banned from being exported or imported through our land borders.
“That is to ensure that we have total control over what comes in and what we do. We are strategising on how best the goods can be handled when we get to when this operation will relax,” he said.
Ali, however, advised local dealers who want to export or to import items to use the seaports which is the only access at present.
On when the operation which is nearly two months will end, Ali said, “It is as long as it will take our neighbours to come to the table and agree to execute exactly what was agreed during former Olusegun Obasanjo’s time which is simple adherence to ECOWAS transit procedure. That has not happened.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna Chambers of Commerce as well as economic experts have kicked against the ban on importation and exportation of goods through the country’s land borders.
The Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) described the government’s decision to shut down its land borders to import and export as inimical to on-going efforts by the African Union to boost inter-state trade, commerce and investment within the continent.
The Director General of LCCI, Muda Yusuf said: “It is very unfair and not good for business.
“This is a very unusual decision and it is not a good signal we are sending to the African continent ahead of the commencement of the AfCFTA,”
Ban will further increase inflation – Experts
Experts have complained that the closure of the land borders could increase the inflation rate in the country.
Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Abuja, Dr Yelwa Mohammed, said for federal government to close down the border without making any secondary arrangement or palliative measures to alleviate the suffering of the masses is not a good idea.
He said stopping the importation of essential commodities, including rice and spaghetti is a good idea only if proper orientation has taken place.
Dr Yelwa complained that what the country produces domestically cannot meet up with the demand of the masses, adding that Nigeria has still not started producing rice in commercial quantities.
“If you see what is happening in the local markets now, they repackage local rice and sell it at exorbitant prices because border has been closed. What we have as locally produced rice is not enough for the people,” he said.
Another Professor of Economics from the same university, Dr David Okoroafor, warned that the closure will lead to inflation because of reduction in supply and increase in demand of essential commodities.
He said because of the border closure, there will be less supply of those goods and increase in demand of those commodities.
An economist and one time Chief Executive Officer of a commercial bank who wouldn’t want to be mentioned expressed wonder over the economics of the closure.
“I don’t really understand this Economics. It is true our borders are porous and there are lots of illegal importation without payment of duties etc but there is inter African trade that predates those borders,” he said.
According to him, “implicit in the policy may be security issues”.
The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Engineer Mansur Ahmed, while speaking on the border closure said: “I understand that the closure of borders is supposed to be a short-term arrangement to at least stop the influx of smuggled goods, particularly things like rice and so on into the country, while the government looks for a long term solution to the problem.
“I believe that manufacturers will be willing to work with this arrangement for a time, but it shouldn’t be an indefinite thing because obviously if you close the borders, there are manufacturers who are genuine exporters whose businesses will be seriously hurt.
“There are also manufacturers who are bringing either raw materials or some of their inputs into the country and doing so legitimately. I think those people should not be penalised for too long.
“I think the arrangement should be held sufficiently long enough to be able to put in place a more sustainable solution. Closing the border is not a sustainable solution, I am sure we all know.”
Land import, export ban will gravely injure economy- ACCI
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) on its part said the ban will cause grave injury to the economy.
The Vice President on charge of Commerce at ACCI, Dr. Johnson Somadina Anene, said it is not proper for the authorities to insist on the policy because it has negative effects on businesses.
“Most of the businessmen operating as SMEs may not be able to effectively trade under such cost, as air and waterways travels are relatively much more expensive than the land,” he said. The industrialist said what is needed is a policy that will ensure a strengthened security and adequate manning of land borders.
The Director General of the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce Industries, Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA), Alhaji Usman Saulawa, also flayed the complete ban, saying it will have a ‘‘mixed grill effect’’.
Closure of land borders to importation of rice will improve economy – RIFAN
Meanwhile, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN),Kebbi State chapter said it welcomes the closure of the land borders to importation of goods, particularly rice.
The state RIFAN chairman, Alhaji Muhammad Sahabi Augie, said the closure of Nigeria’s land borders to importation of rice would help to improve the country’s economy.
Smuggling undermining Nigeria’s economic sovereignty – Aregbesola
However, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, at the weekend maintained that smuggling, illegal migration and “subversive economic activities” at the borders have over the years undermined Nigeria’s economic sovereignty.
Aregbesola equally assured border residents agonising over the partial border closure that the federal government would provide them with legitimate businesses as replacement for the illegal economic activities at the borders.
He spoke while inaugurating a Forward Operations Base (FOB) of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) at Oja-Odan, a border community in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The minister, who was at the event alongside Gov. Dapo Abiodun, Comptroller General of NIS, Muhammad Babandede, State Comptroller, Doris Braimah, and other personalities, expressed concern over the illegal economic activities at the borders, lamenting that huge importation duty accruing to Nigeria had gone down the drain.