By Charles Nwaoguji
The members of the Organised Private Sector have spoken that border closure was a temporal solution to a long term problem, explaining that policy measures and proper implementation was necessary and more effective.
This was disclosed during at the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN) retreat held recently in Lagos, with the theme: “Impact of Border closure on the Real Sector Business: Way forward in 2020.”
The real sector noted that though, rice farmers are smiling to the bank, but explained that the situation was not too good for the country’s fragile economy, saying that it has brought more hardship to the citizens.
In his speech, Mr. Afam Mallinson Ukatu, Managing Director of NISPO, who is also the National Chairman of the Non-Metallic Mining Group of MAN, noted that border closure is not bad, but there should have been enough window to alert those that import or export through the land borders of the country that at a specific time, the border would be closed.
Ukatu expressed that if the Nigeria Customs is at the top of its duty, that the government has no reason to close the border, saying that if the custom officers were properly equipped and orientated, they will do the right thing.
He said; “Why should the customs be waiting for border closure pronouncement of the executive before they take stringent steps to checking smuggling? Border closure is not a solution, what we need is a proper policy instrument that will check and track illicit trade perpetrators.
“Three is no country in the world that exists in isolation, but strong and adequate policies are put in place and also enforced in the proper manner. For instance, the Chinese has several scanners at its land borders and numerous check points that would not allow illicit trade to thrive. Most of our manufactured goods are sold in the neighboring countries, but with border closure, manufacturers now find it very difficult to move their goods across the border.”
In his presentation, the Chairman, National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Dr Adams Olu Adebayo expressed that border closure is the prayer of rice farmers.
Adebayo urged the Customs to be sincere at their duty post, adding that Nigerians that do business across the border should be more patriotic as majority are engaged in illicit trade.
He said border closure has not brought the needed solution, stressing that it has only succeeded in pushing the prices of rice and some other commodities high through the forces of demand and supply.
“Border closure is not a win-win solution, border control in Nigeria erroneous. The outcome is that the local rice that was sold for N12,000 per 50kg bag is now sold for N21,000 and above. This is because rice growers were not prepared, but they are now encouraged by the government,” Adebayo stressed.
According to the Director General, National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Ambassador Ayoola Olukanni, the government should implement trade policies and adequately enforce better result.
He pointed out that the border closure negatively affected some of their members, while some others benefited from it.