Nigeria’s Five Conditions To Neighbors Before Opening Land Borders

Nigeria’s Five Conditions To Neighbors Before Opening Land Borders

Good people, many months ago, as President Buhari was contemplating signing AfCFTA, the pan-African trade agreement, I wrote that Nigeria was not ready because the rules of origin could be rigged by member states. My conclusion in that piece was thus: fix the rules of origin clause before signing AfCFTA. Of course, after pressure on Mr. President, he signed. But it seems that reality has checked in as ECOWAS has become a lab even before AfCFTA. 

Nigeria should SIGN but must make sure the “rule of origin” clause is strong. We cannot afford goods produced outside Africa to be repackaged in a treaty member state and then shipped to Nigeria at a low tariff that is exclusive to member states.

Here are the evolving conditions which Nigeria’s neighboring countries must adhere to and maintain before the closed land borders could be opened. You can extend this redesign to AfCFTA even before it begins. Simply, Nigeria is fixing the rules of origin, at the moment.

–          Any import coming from outside an ECOWAS region and imported into an ECOWAS member state must maintain its original packaging. They must be escorted from the port directly to the designated entry point in the Nigerian border, presented to the Nigerian customs with their original packaging. Compromises will not be tolerated.

–          Goods produced predominantly in ECOWAS member states must satisfy the ECOWAS rules of origin to avoid any possibility of downplay. Goods must be majorly produced in ECOWAS countries.

If the goods are coming from outside ECOWAS, the value addition must be over 30 per cent for it to be accepted within the framework of the Economic Trade Liberalisation Scheme that ECOWAS countries have to promote trade among them.

This is to avoid countries outside member states from exporting their goods into ECOWAS region repackaged, as though they are coming from an ECOWAS region.

–          All warehouses along the shared borders of Nigeria must be dismantled.

–          Goods being transported must be put in proper recognized packaging. No longer will we have goods of all shapes and sizes going through the borders. To maintain the best practices of those goods, an accepted condition for packaging will be established.

–          In regards to free movements of persons, all persons moving through Nigerian borders must present themselves through recognized entry points and must have recognized travel documents (country passport).

Interestingly, AfCFTA could just be a paper with no heart to make it happen as anyone losing can activate anything to justify exclusion. Because the bigger economies like Nigeria will not like to lose, I do not see how harmony can reign. Yes, I do not expect an engagement with Togo from Nigeria to be a win-win; unless Nigeria is open to lose marginally, there is nothing in it because the economic disparity is highly asymmetric. Of course, Nigeria has to do what it has to do, as it battles eroding middle class, even as population continues to grow, in a time of very low economic growth. But do not sleep thinking AfCFTA will be magical – it is already collapsing before it begins!


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2 thoughts on “Nigeria’s Five Conditions To Neighbors Before Opening Land Borders

  1. The Big Brother wielding the big stick, if we think these conditions are normal to be implemented immediately, then we are becoming too insensitive as a nation and people.

    Part of why you are a big country is also to support the small countries around you, if you think all the economic benefits should come you, without considering what happens to those neighbouring countries, you are essentially breeding terrorism and other security challenges for yourself.

    To close down borders and hedge their reopening on meeting ALL the five conditions is simply callous, any diplomacy that doesn’t produce a win-win is a scam. You can punish the small guys and win, but what happens when the big guys treat you the same way? This border thing is gradually bringing the terrible part of us to light, because it shows that if we finally become a powerful nation, we could crush or takeover anyone who fails to do our bidding.

    There’s something fundamentally wrong in our foreign policy and relationships, everything is not hedged on what you will gain economically, also pay attention to survival of those small countries who look up to you.

    Nigeria is better than this!

    1. That is the evolving reality – Nigeria should not think Togo/Benin R can catch bad players it cannot catch in its own side of the border. It is not that easy. I left this comment on this comment’s LinkedIn.
      “Olayinka, like I noted in the piece, Nigeria must not expect Win-win when dealing with Togo or Benin Rep. That is what Francis is alluding to. We are the big brother, and part of that means you have to be open to lose to help them. Our size and scale are asymmetric and if you expect them to give you win-win, nothing will happen. Yet, those countries must be responsibly managed to help Nigeria to support them. But if you think Togo’s customs can catch smugglers you cannot catch in your side of the border, you are not real. “


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