As part of an on-going effort to tackle smuggling and associated corruption, but also to spur the domestic agricultural industry, on October 14, 2019, Nigeria ordered closed all of Nigeria’s borders with Benin, as well as those with all other countries, for the same reasons. With the market for smuggled food now restricted, domestic food prices, already high, have gone up and the economy of neighboring countries— a staging area for smuggling into Nigeria has been devastated. Imports into Nigeria are to come through sea ports, where customs duties can be imposed more easily than at land borders. Nigeria’s vital oil exports are not affected.
While Nigeria’s borders reflect late-nineteenth century agreements among the British, French, and Germans, most African borders were similarly created by European colonial powers. The point being, the borders rarely reflect indigenous history or culture. In the case of Nigeria, while there are formal border crossings with customs services along the main roads, there are literally hundreds of others along footpaths and minor roads that are unregulated. The practical consequences of closing the land borders is likely to vary from one part of the country to another, based on government capacity to enforce closures.
So, what have been the positive benefits of the Nigerian border closure?
- Increased Internally Generated Revenue (IGR): This is a huge fact because Nigeria has imposed customs duties which can be readily imposed more easily at sea ports than at land border. This is a major breakthrough as duties paid by importers are drafted to the IGR. This move is huge because over the years, prior to the border closure there has been no full regulation on duties paid for import. Now, with this strategic yet painful framework deployed by the President there will be accountability from the Nigeria Customs Department in contributing fully their own quota to the Single Treasury, which will best max the IGR for the GDP. To be honest, this move comes with a heavy steep price. This is obvious because many importers will have no other option to send in their goods and they’ll be forced to comply with the directive. It will affect the importers too who do not have enough funding for the duty payment effectively. But to be frank, the increased internal generated revenue will boost due to this.
- Increased Consumption of Local Products: Nigerians like we know, love the consumption of foreign products. It’s in the blood really. However, to this effect of the Nigerian border closure, there has been a surge in the consumption of local goods. Take example, the locally made rice Nigerians rejected is now the most consumed commodity. As the cost of foreign products increase there comes the reality of Nigerians to use the available when the preferred is not available. According to locally rice farmers, it has been noted that they sell off their products easily these days compared to other times. It’s essential to note that the border closure was a move by President Buhari not to only tackle smuggling and associated corruption, but also to spur the domestic agricultural industry.
In effect, the move has been strategic and painful to numerous Nigerians, but the reality comes in that numerous nations are taking moves to increase their IGR for the benefit of their GDP. Countries like U.S.A are deploying this medium to tackle foreign nations like China from taking over their trading. It’s strategic and hits hard on the average citizens, but then there must be a future for a country to grow independently.