WHAT NANONO INTENDS TO BENEFIT FROM BORDER CLOSURE ?

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 abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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