Nigeria gains more from border closure – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, has stated that despite the rising inflation and the hike in food prices in the market, Nigeria is gaining more from the decision to close land borders.

Mr. Lai noted that the step was needed because Nigeria was actually subsidising the rest of West Africa.

The minister said that the gains from the temporary closure outweighs any other negative impact, adding that the importation and repacking of goods for Nigeria’s consumption is not healthy for the Nigerian economy.

“The border closure, frankly speaking, is what we needed to do and we had to do it. We cannot continue to subsidise the rest of West Africa. And the benefits for border closure for me, I think far surpass the very little increase in inflation,” Lai said after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.

He revealed that Nigeria and its neighbours were still engaged in discussions on why it was necessary to respect the ECOWAS trade protocols.

“We have been able to save about 30 per cent from our fuel consumption, which means that over time we have been subsidising the fuel consumption of other countries. Within the last three months, we have been able to increase by 15 per cent, duties collected from imports.

“Within the same period, we have been able to drastically reduce the volumes of arms and ammunition that have been coming into the country through smuggling, ditto with illicit drugs.

“All Nigeria is saying is, please, let’s respect the protocol on transit. ECOWAS set up a protocol on transit of goods, which is very simple. If a container meant for Nigeria is dropped in Cotonou, the authorities in Benin Republic should escort the container to the customs in Seme border, and that way proper duty will be levied and will be paid.

“But, on the contrary, what we have seen happening over the years is that our neighbours will put about five containers on one truck and drive them to the border as if it is only one container that they are going to pay duties on. Worse still, less than even 50 per cent of what is meant for Nigeria will come through the approved border.”

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