• Nigeria’s minister of information, Lai Mohammed, says border closure is one of the boldest decisions ever taken.
  • The government also lists reduction in rice smuggling, N8 billion daily, and others as part of gains of the border closure.
  • Nigeria says it will only reopen borders until Niger and the Benin Republic complied with the ECOWAS trade agreements.

The Nigerian government has listed gains of border closure on the economy and trans-border security concerns.

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, stated this at the end of the year press conference in Lagos on Monday, December 30th, 2019.

Describing the closure as border drill, Mohammed said it is one of the boldest decisions ever taken by any administration in Nigeria.

Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture at a press conference in Lagos (Twitter/@FMICNigeria)
Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture at a press conference in Lagos (Twitter/@FMICNigeria)
Twitter/@FMICNigeria

Over time, Nigeria has been confronted with numerous trans-border economic and security challenges. These challenges range from banditry, kidnapping, smuggling, illegal migration and proliferation of light weapons, among others. Meanwhile, the preference for foreign goods, especially food items like rice, has continuously impoverished our farmers and adversely affected domestic government policies supporting the agricultural sector to enhance food security.

“It is however disturbing that some neighbouring countries circumvent the ECOWAS protocol on transit. For clarity, the ECOWAS protocol on transit demands that when a transit container berths at a seaport, the receiving country is mandated to escort the same without tampering with the seal to the border of the destination country. Unfortunately, experience has shown that our neighbours do not comply with this protocol.

ALSO READ: Nigeria says it will only reopen land borders until Niger and the Benin Republic have complied with the ECOWAS trade agreements

He listed gains of the border closure as follow:

  • Spike up in rice production

Nigeria is closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production than at any time in the country's history, thanks to the border drill that has drastically reduced rice smuggling into the country and catalysed rice production by our farmers across the country. We recently visited some of Nigeria's 34 integrated Rice Mills as well as rice clusters in Kano.

  • Curb smuggling of rice and petroleum 

The border drill has curbed the smuggling of rice and other prohibited items into the country, led to significant seizures with an estimated monetary value of over N3.5 billion, reduced local fuel consumption by 30% and reduced the importation of arms, munitions, and drugs.

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

He also said the smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria has been drastically curtailed and has led to a 30% reduction in domestic fuel consumption.

  • Reduction in criminal activities

The minister said with the closure, terrorists and other criminals are finding it hard to procure arms and ammunition while criminal elements no longer make their way into the country through the land borders.

  • Economic gains

The Nigerian government said with the introduction of the drill, the Nigeria Customs Service now generates up to N8 billion daily from N4.5 billion daily before the drill.