Former President John Mahama has described Nigeria’s decision to close its border to Ghana and others as worrying.
According to the former President, even though he could appreciate the effect of rice smuggling on Nigeria, the unilateral decision to close the border is harmful to the ECOWAS agenda
“The unilateral closure of the Nigeria border since August is a very worrying development for the growth of free trade in the ECOWAS sub-region. One can understand the harmful effects of the unbridled smuggling of goods on the growth of local production. But it is problematic that sub-regional economic activity and trade should suffer because of domestic institutional weaknesses.”
“Nigeria must invest in strengthening its institutions and systems that are responsible for the importation of illegal or prohibited goods. The total closure especially the Benin border is having a toll on many SMEs especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire that rely on inter-country trade for survival. Businesses in Nigeria that also rely on supplies from this area are also suffering. With the signing of the joint task force agreement within Nigeria and her neighbours, I want to appeal to Nigeria to open up its borders so that economic activities can resume” Mahama said while delivering the 7th Real News Magazine Anniversary Lecture in Lagos Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari unexpectedly closed Nigeria’s borders to imported goods in August declaring the time had come to end rampant smuggling across the porous frontiers.
The closure has had a devastating effect on Benin, Ghana and others.
The closure which has irked Ghanaian traders will continue until January 2020, a memo from the government of Nigeria to border control personnel has announced.
The memo said the closure has achieved tremendous success.
“I am directed to inform you that it is observed that despite the overwhelming success of the operation, particularly the security and economic benefits to the nation, a few strategic objectives are yet to be achieved.
“Against this background, Mr President has approved an extension of the exercise to January 31, 2020. Consequently, you are requested to convey the development to all personnel for their awareness and guidance,” it said.
This is despite the delegation from the government of Ghana to Nigeria to negotiate the reopening of the border.