By Abba Dukawa
Proportionately, Nigeria has not sufficiently improved its capacity toward attaining self food reliant. Almost two years, since Buhari Administration has shut Nigeria’s land borders.
The policy of shutting its border is to achieve food security, curtail the importation of drugs and proliferation of small arms which threaten the country’s security.
Unfortunately, the shutting land border has failed to stop the flow of arms into the country. Insurgents, militants, bandits, kidnappers, name them, carry arms freely and kill at will. Smuggling of rice into Nigeria has continued to thrive. Nigeria not gaining from closing its borders is far away from achieving them.
In fact, nothing has changed except that the policy has caused serious hardship and impoverished more than 2/3 of the 206 million peoples who are either without food or the price of foodstuffs is beyond their affordability in a country million poor citizens live below poverty line.
Annually, Nigeria consumes 6.7 million tons of rice annually. It produces 3.5 million tons locally. The deficit of 3.2 million tons. Without recoursing the impact on teaming populace’s wellbeing the closure only provoked increment of prices of some commodities.
For instance, rice is the most staple food in the country is increasingly unaffordable, a 50kg bag of imported rice which used to sell for about N14,000 has increased to about N25,000, while the price of local rice has moved from about N11,000 to about N20,000.
Since the closure, local rice milling manufacturers have found an opportunity to exploit the market and the Masses are paying the price for the border closure disproportionately.
At the peaked Covid 19 pandemic FGN took roughly 40,000 tonnes of millet and sorghum from the regional economic bloc’s (ECOWAS) strategic stocks while 30,000 tonnes has been distributed to relieved negative impact of the Covid 19.
In general, border closure is counter-productive; it is like chasing shadows rather than the cause. The war against smuggled rice should have been fought in mechanized farms and modern rice mills that can process the farm produce to international standard.
Last month, the government stealthily gave the Dangote Group and other companies special permission to import maize. With this waiver granted to these companies, it is obvious that the government of Nigeria have mistaken border closure for an efficient self food reliant and the objectives not being achieved except causing hardship to masses.
Right from day one when Buhari’s administration made its decisions known, economy watchers dismissed the closure. The reason for the border closure have not halt massive smuggling of rice and arms importation into the country, among others.
But it seems the policy and the enforcer have woefully fallen and the government had no more reason to continue punish innocent Nigerians with land border closure.
For Sabo Nanono’s contradictory view against President Buhari’s intent to reopen the border is unfortunate a minister contradicting president decision can best be described as the hangover of a power drunk, to insist on the closure even when Nigerians, the electorates, are suffering. Maybe the Minister of Rural and Agricultural have uterior motives toward the masses that brought the administration into power, or enjoys seeing innocent Nigerians being punished by the border shut.
Who is from the border closure? Does he want to add another colossal damage to the administration already tattered image?
The closure of the borders clearly violated the spirit and the letter of the ECOWAS and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which mandates the free movement of goods and people. The bloc is dominated by Nigeria by dint of the size of its economy and its regional influence. Minister and his cohorts or rather advisers should not forget that AfCFTA will unarguably serve as an opportunity for Nigerian business.
Dukawa Journalist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org