Nigeria’s President, His excellency Muhammadu Buhari met with the President of Benin Republic, President Patrice Talon of on 2 separate occasions in a closed-door meeting in Abuja and finally on the sidelines of the seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan in August, one of the things he told him was that Nigeria had had enough of the smuggling from the Benin end of the border.
Buhari had said: “Now that our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms, and the country has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves, we cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue.”
Nigeria’s land borders have remained partially and then fully closed since that time, in a bid to curb the extensive activities of excessive smuggled commodities brought into the country through the land borders Nigeria shares with its West African Neighbours.
This was an assertive move by the incumbent president and it sends loud and bold message in the country’s change or rather a progressive-leaning away from the old docile, sleeping Giant thoughts of the country and more of the ‘Giant of Africa’ talks into actions.
Now Let’s break down and give 5 reasons why this border closure is good for the Country’s international Image both Politically and Economically;
- Restores A bit Of Fear And Integrity:
Nigeria has for far too long been since as weak and losing it’s political prestige on the global stage because of some of its foreign policy, because of it’s big brother status in the West African region.
By closing our borders to Benin our closest neighbours and to some extent our brothers when talking about historical and cultural lineage sends a lot of connotative messages to other West African countries and other states on the continent.
2. Its A Show of Power and Military Strength:
Nigeria has continuously been criticized for having porous borders, previous and the present administration as also been criticized of still suffering from unchecked migration and easy access of criminals and religious extremist sect access to guns and ammunition.
This border closure also sends the body language that the country has beefed up its internal security as much as it’s external security, going by the number of smuggled cargo that has been seized since the closure of the border.
3. Economically Intelligent:
Nigeria says it has made more money since it closed its land borders.
According to customs boss Col. Hameed Ali: “What we have discovered is that most of those cargoes that used to go to Benin (Republic), shipped to Benin, and then discharged and smuggled into Nigeria, now that we have closed the border they are forced to bring their goods to either Apapa or Tin Can Island and we have to collect duty on them.
“If that would continue to us, it is a welcome situation. As a matter of fact, our revenue has not reduced, it is increasing as a result of closing the border.”
Ali adds that customs has been making between N4.7 billion to N5.8 billion daily–more than the agency used to generate before the closure.
4. Shows The Current Governments Commitment To National Economic Growth:
With the closure of the border the excessive availability of certain smuggled commodities like Rice, Frozen poultry birds, Eggs, Cars and Groundnut, oil that over saturate our markets and reducing the patronage of locally produced goods as been relegated significantly forcing citizens of the country buy more for local industries, this in the long run would help improve the economy and general welfare of citizens when this products are standardized.
Nigerians are now buying more of Locally produced rice like Mama’s Pride, Abakaliki Rice and Ofada Rice.
5. Benin, Togo And Other West African Economies Are Suffering From This:
There have been reports of rotten tomatoes, vegetables and other goods on the Benin side of the border since the closure. All those goods used to one way or the other find their ways into Nigeria.
With a population of just 11 million, Benin’s economy is hinged on trade with Nigeria.
Benin used to also serve as a prime destination for the diversion of Nigeria’s petrol by greedy marketers. Which explains why there are quite a lot of petrol stations around Benin’s border with Nigeria.
Benin is not the only nation affected by Nigeria’s decision to shut its land borders, however. Niger, Cameroon and Togo are also reeling from the effect of the policy.
The Nigerian government says as soon as these countries prove that they are willing and ready to curb smuggling, the borders will be reopened for legitimate business. Photo Credit: Getty