The current closure of Nigeria’s borders with neighbouring countries will be extended till January 31,2020.
This is contained in a new directive by the President in response to a fact finding and border patrol mission.
According to a report published by Punch, a combined team of security agencies had embarked on a joint border operation code-named’ Exercise Swift Response.
The Deputy Comptroller of Customs in charge of Enforcement, Investigation and Inspectorate, Victor Dimka, disclosed the Presidential directive in a memo to the Sector Coordinators.
The memo with reference number NCS/ENF/ABJ/221/S.45, and marked “Restricted” was dated November 1, 2019.
The release stated that despite the overwhelming success of the operation, particularly the security and economic benefits to the nation, a few strategic objectives need to be achieved.
This according to sources led to the extension of the borders by the President to enable the completion of the exercise.
Operatives that are involved in the joint operations have been assured that their allowances would be paid.
It would be recalled that the border closure which has lasted for months had attracted debates from several quarters especially as it affects the economy and bilateral trade relationships.
Nigeria’s government in August, just three months after celebrating its signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) placed a ban on the movement of all goods from countries sharing her common land border such as Benin, Cameroon , Niger and banning all trade import and export.
Officials have pointed to curbing smuggling of goods such as rice, tomatoes and poultry as primary objective of the border closure. This is with the aim of boosting Nigeria’s agricultural domestic production and trade.
Within the period of the closure, it has had a toll on trans-border trade especially Nigeria’s large market for the listed commodities including those with already paid custom duties. This led to a sharp increase in price of the commodities especially with the consuming populace complaining of non-existence of supplementary products from Nigeria.
Many are of the view that effective policies made workable such as massive industrialisation and Agriculture would have palliated the impact of the border closures.
Isaac Akugbe is a Beninoise transporter who shuttles between Lagos and Cotonou. He lamented the effect of the border closure on his business.
“The border closure has affected me more than I expected. Before the closure I shuttled rice to Lagos in almost two trips daily
“Since that time everything is paralysed. The worst problem now is that my car is registered with Cotonou and I cannot use it on Lagos roads “he lamented.
In a related reaction, Shola Adeyanju, a farmer of Togo and Nigeria parents said the closure has had it’s toll on his Agribusiness.
“I am a farmer with a farm at Badagry and an outlet in Lome. I haven’t been myself since the border closure because my production is affected. I farm efo and ewedu which i move to Lome. Usually people in Lome prefer our Nigerian ‘ewedu’ which I take to Lome and bring in coconuts for some manufacturers at Idi Iroko. Everything is on a stand still now”.
Meanwhile, The Economic Community Of West African States has told the Nigerian Government that closing the border with other neighbouring countries wouldn’t be the solution to the prevalence of goods and products into Nigeria. In a recent release the commission said.
“The root causes of this recurrent situation must be studied with a view to finding a permanent solution.” It also shared the view that the closure would hamper Nigeria’s successful implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.
With these reactions trailing the border closure, many are keeping fingers cross on the new directives and fallouts of it’s reopening in January 2020.