• IMF urges West African nations to quickly resolve issues around border closure.
  • The IMF team observes that Nigeria's economic recovery remains slow, revises 2020 economic forecast down to 2%.
  • The Nigerian government says partial border closure is to tackle illicit trade and smuggling of arms and ammunition into the country.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged West African nations, most especially Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, and Ghana, to quickly resolve issues around border closure.

Failure to resolve this, the International lender said it will continue to have significant economic consequences on neighbouring nations.

Traders want ECOWAS to hold emergency meeting on Nigeria border closure
Traders want ECOWAS to hold emergency meeting on Nigeria border closure

The IMF team, led by Amine Mati, Senior Resident Representative and Mission Chief for Nigeria, stated this at the end of their visit to Nigeria.

Mati said, “Nigeria’s border closure will continue to have significant economic consequences on the country’s neighbors.

“It is important that all involved parties quickly resolve the issues keeping the borders closed—including to stop the smuggling of banned products.”

The team also held discussions with senior government and central bank officials.

Seme Border closure (Guardian)
Seme Border closure (Guardian)

They observed that the pace of Nigeria's economic recovery remains slow, as declining real incomes and weak investment continue to weigh on economic activity.

With the current global economic realities, the mission revised Nigeria's 2020 economic forecast down to 2% due to dwindling oil prices.

President Buhari with R-L: High Commissioner of Nigeria to UK Justice Adesola Oguntade, Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, Heavy Weight Champion Anthony Joshua, CEO of Diaspora Commission Abike Dabiri, Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State, Minister of Trade and Investment Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo and other dignitaries during a meeting with Nigerians in the Diaspora Living in United Kingdom on 18th Jan 2020
President Buhari with R-L: High Commissioner of Nigeria to UK Justice Adesola Oguntade, Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, Heavy Weight Champion Anthony Joshua, CEO of Diaspora Commission Abike Dabiri, Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State, Minister of Trade and Investment Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo and other dignitaries during a meeting with Nigerians in the Diaspora Living in United Kingdom on 18th Jan 2020
Facebook/Femi Adesina

Last August, the Nigerian government closed its border to tackle illicit trade and strengthen security in the country. It also asked neighbouring countries to respect rules of origin. The move has been widely criticised. Many believed it is against the spirit of the ECOWAS and the recently signed Africa trade pact.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had said the partial closure was not to punish neighbouring countries but to strengthen the country’s security and economy. He said the closure has drastically reduced the smuggling of agricultural produce as well as arms and ammunition.