The closure of Nigerian borders has lingered longer than expected by Nigerians and West Africa as a whole. The Nigerian Government has been criticized for what is seen by many as a deliberate attempt to inflict more suffering on Nigerians.
The cost of food items has moved up since then, and the Government has insouciantly maintained that the border will remain closed until a permanent solution is served on smuggling of banned and substandard goods and services.
Smuggling has been fingered as the biggest sabotage to President Buhari’s economic policies that is centered on domestic production of goods and services.
The Government is also concerned about the inflow of counterfeit goods through land borders. These concerns have resulted in partial closure of the borders until the porousness is contained.
In a statement on Friday, President Buhari assured a delegation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry from Nigeria and West Africa of its administration’s readiness to put an end to it all.
Here is the full statement:
“Today I met with a delegation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry from Nigeria and West Africa. I assured them of our administration’s readiness to work with them to bring an end to smuggling and the dumping of substandard items in West Africa and on the continent.
It is regrettable that there are traders who simply do not play by the rules; who choose profits over patriotism, and whose selfish practices in perpetrating smuggling and counterfeiting help keep foreign factories working while closing ours. We have all heard stories about the dangerous and sometimes, fatal impact of fake drugs and foods on our citizens. We have also seen how fake electrical items have led to fires in homes and markets thereby destroying lives and property.
Most of these substandard and illegal items are smuggled through our land borders. After many years of diplomacy and aggressive regulatory oversight which has yielded few results, we decided to close our land borders for a limited time to assess the impact of this measure. Within a few short weeks since the partial border closures began, we are already seeing a decline in the volumes of counterfeit smuggled goods in some of our major markets across the country.
This validates our actions as a Government when we insist that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) must not only promote free trade, but legal trade of quality made-in Africa goods and services. We will soon finalize the National Action Committee on the implementation of the AfCFTA. We expect the organized private sector to continue to support us in achieving a Free Trade Area that employs Africans to produce high-quality made-in-Africa products.
Let me also thank NACCIMA for the honor done to me with the investiture today as their Grand Patron. I will not let them down. Trade is central to our economy, we are a nation of traders, and have been for centuries. I will ensure that we continue to give the sector full support.”