‘Addressing governance shortcomings, key to post-border closure era’
While some gains may have been recorded with the closure of the land borders since August this year, members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) have stated that key fundamental governance shortcomings should be addressed as part of a sustainable solution, else events return to status-quo.
Speaking at a workshop /retreat held recently in Lagos, themed: “Impact of border closure on the real sector business: Way forward in 2020”, the operators noted that though, rice farmers are smiling to the bank, the situation is not palatable for the country’s fragile economy, adding that it has brought more hardship to the citizens.
In his speech, the Managing Director of NISPO, who is also the National Chairman of the Non-Metallic Mining Group of MAN, Afam Mallinson Ukatu, 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 efficiently performs its duty, the government has no reason to close the border, adding 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.
“There 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 have several scanners at their land borders and numerous check points that would not allow illicit trade to thrive. Most of our manufactured goods are sold in the neighbouring 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 engaging 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 higher through the forces of demand and supply.
“Border closure is not a win-win solution, border control in Nigeria is 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.