THE Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 told the federal government that keeping the land borders shut for too long was not necessary with the coming into effect of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTA).
The Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Ajayi Kadiri, said on the sidelines of the ongoing Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) conference in Abuja that there were several ways of keeping unwanted trade practices out rather than border closure.
“Now, with the opening of borders, we can have unfettered flow of trade, especially with the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, AfCTA,” Kadiri said.
He noted that manufacturers had been looking forward to creating value chains across the borders with other West African neighbouring countries.
He said, “It is easier now to reconnect other parts of West Africa. We can now commence our partnership in and outside the country.”
The Federal Government had last Friday approved the reopening of four additional land borders shut in August 2019 as part of efforts to curtail smuggling and boost local production of rice.
The government confirmed this in a circular released by the Nigeria Customs Service, signed by the Deputy Comptroller-General, E. I. Edorhe, on behalf of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali.
The border posts listed for reopening are those at Idiroko in Ogun State, Jibiya in Katsina State, Kamba in Kebbi State and Ikom in Cross River State.
The circular, titled, ‘Re-opening of four additional Nigerian border posts’, read, “Sequel to the Presidential directive dated December 16, 2020, granting approval for phased reopening of land borders, namely: Mfum, Seme, Illela and Maigatari borders across the country, I am directed to inform you that four additional borders listed below have been approved for re-opening.
“Idiroko border post, Ogun State (South-West Zone); Jibiya border post, Katsina State (North-West Zone), Kamba border post, Kebbi State (North-West Zone), and Ikom border post, Cross River State (South-South Zone).
“Consequently, all Customs formations and Joint Border Patrol Teams are to take note and ensure that proper manning takes place in compliance with extant operational guidelines.”
It would be noted that Nigeria’s border closure, ostensibly aimed at stemming flows of smuggled goods such as rice and tomatoes into the country, effectively severed trade with neighbouring Benin, Niger Republic and Cameroon.
A recent International Monetary Fund mission to Nigeria concluded that the pace of economic recovery remained slow due to depressed private consumption and a wait-and-see approach from investors.
The land border shut-down was criticised as restricting trade and further compounding an uncertain outlook for Africa’s largest economy.
Such a drastic move from one of Africa’s major economic players, industry watchers say, casts doubt over the continent’s wider push towards free trade and cooperation.
The Executive Director of the Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprise, Muda Yusuf, said it was important to reckon with the costs, supply chain disruptions and losses that business and individuals had suffered as a result of the closure.
“Corporates, large numbers of informal sector players, and individuals doing legitimate businesses across the borders have become victims of the border closure.
“This poses a dilemma.The government means well, but there are many innocent casualties,” Yusuf said.