The problem facing Nigerian government is not just the border closure. There are many policies of government that needs repair and the land borders is just one of them. So, every Nigerian already knows the good and bad effect of it.
But what many Nigerians don’t understand is the policy focus of this current government. For a government that started off with so much promises and maybe ending with no result, there should be a better way to close the land borders than the way it was pursued.
Well, the borders are already closed and the government has made good their intention not to reopen it until certain bilateral conditions are met by the countries within our borders.
However, the concern among most business owners Centre’s around the cost of commodities, especially rice. Rice is the number one staple food in Nigeria. Local rice farmers are making huge gains, which is good but our economy shouldn’t be controlled by our border with a much smaller country like Benin.
A country with a population of over 198 million people and a deformed regulatory system that cannot manage its demand and supply chain, should have problem with closure of any border at all.
We often blame government but the system decay isn’t just government fault. Everyone knows that there is a demand for bribe and no one has ever denied they won’t ever pay.
Reason Government Gave for Border Closure
We all know if the government’s reason for Border Closure is true, then the Border should have been closed maybe 20 years ago. And that would have been during Obasanjo’s government.
But when a government is struggling to prove its reason for Border closure, then the citizens have a right to question the motive beyond the reason. Although there were insinuation that it’s to curb corruption in the Nigerian Customs.
Government of Nigeria has never done anything against itself. So, that could be a reason to make the public feel better about the closure. But the real reason government gave was to curb unregulated smuggling activities fostered on it by its neighbour’s to boast its own revenue.
The agreement on rules of origin is worth closing the borders. That also means the borders cannot be closed permanently. Although what is not clear is if the neighbour’s can keep to those terms. And if not, will the Nigerian government still abide by this Border Closure?
Other Reasons For Border Closure
There was an argument at one of the beer parlor in the south east of Nigeria. Two men started with discussions after gulping several bottles of beer. Later the discussion entered into arguments until the topic got to the Border Closure.
I heard one of them was so angry about the Border Closure because his nephew was supposed to send him money for his children’s school fees but complained about lack of money due to the Border Closure. And promised to send money as soon as the Border is reopened.
So, the man angrily said, if not for this Border Closure I would have given you more drinks today. And his friend replied, don’t mind Buhari, all his policies are against Ndi-Igbo.
Suddenly it felt like their arguments had ended and peace was returning to that part of the bar, until someone just chipped in his thought.
It has nothing to do with Ndi-Igbo, the man said, but to punished the Ghanian government that is locking up our boys in their country. And the bar lost its cool once again.
Border Closed For Business
Irrespective of the reason anyone might have, both government and my friends at the beer parlor, the Border Closure is a closure on business. The Nigerian-Seme Border is one the most lucrative borders in the whole of Africa. The republic of Benin is vibrant and rich because of Nigeria and its Border.
Most Nigerians have thriving businesses in Cotonou, supplying goods to Nigerian markets. The billions of dollars crossing this border monthly can turn the fortune of any economy around.
But the problem is not caused by Benin republic. Nigeria has other existing seaports but choose to keep lying to itself. Most of what is smuggled into Nigeria through the land borders can also come in through its seaports.
You may ask, why are they not shipping through Nigeria, and instead ship through Cotonou port? It’s not just because of the lower clearing charges by the Benin republic government. Nigeria can equal their rates if that would push the business back to its own ports.
But the real enemy of Nigeria is the congestion of the ports and government marginalization of the south eastern region where 3 other seaports exist but have been ignored by every government in power.
So, government is punishing its neighbour’s for a sin they did not commit. If all it’s seaports are working it will help decongest Apapa and Tincan ports. But no government in Nigeria would ever want to change the narrative on these existing seaports.
Nigeria is not yet open for business. Border closure it’s not its problem. Any government looking for how to generate revenue in Nigeria is lying against the vast potentials in this country. What the government has never done is to explore its potentials.
Opening more new seaports will not only boost government revenue, it will help incubate hundreds of thousands of new Startup businesses that would depend on the existence of these new seaports.
Or we can close the border until our neighbour’s respect us, if that’s what we are looking for. But it won’t give this government the revenue it seeks. Money is everywhere in Nigeria. The government is killing its own economy. It’s been like this in the past 40 years.
What the government needs to do it to learn to listen to those who are telling it the truth. It may not be what they want to hear but it’s what will make Nigeria great again.