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As Nigeria Contravenes ECOWAS and AFCTA Protocols

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In contravention with the The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and the African Continental Free Trade Area, AFCTA, Protocols that allows for movement of people and goods, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari approved the extension of Nigeria’s border closure with its neighbouring countries to 31 January 2020.

In a memo issued by Victor Dimka, the Deputy Controller of the Customs Service; the statement issued to pressmen reads in parts, “despite the overwhelming success of the operation, particularly the security and economic benefits to the country, a few strategic objectives are yet to be achieved, which informed the extension of the exercise by the President.”

“Countries have closed their borders, but it is typically something you do in wars”

Economic analysts and experts have however reacted to government actions, describing it as absurd. “Countries have closed their borders, but it is typically something you do in wars or similar situations of crisis to prevent smuggling of weapons or bigger fights. The idea that you can close your border to achieve some kind of goal of self-sufficiency is really absurd and quite frankly a waste of time.” Feyi Fawehinmi, a London based Nigerian accountant tells NewsWireNGR.

Cheta Nwanze, Head of Research at SBM also tells NewsWireNGR that Nigeria’s President’s record says that “he does not understand a gradual approach to solving economic or even political issues”.

“The above charts show that other African countries are already pushing back and not just for Ghana, but for the rest of West Africa, and indeed the African continent, minus South Africa, Nigeria exports more than it imports. Looking through the breakdown of what we export to these countries, for example, 40% of our exports to Ghana are finished products for their shipping industry, you’ll find that it is Nigerian businesses that will hurt if this goes south and they decide to find more reliable trading partners”, he maintained.

Buhari’s long history of shutting down borders to allow for economic growth

Nigeria’s president Buhari had 35 years ago as head of state, unilaterally closed down all of Nigeria’s international borders against her neighbour’s in ECOWAS and ECCAS, which Nigeria owed treaty obligations that allows access to its coastal ports for trade.

Though the ECOWAS Protocol stipulates that, citizens can enter, reside and establish economic activities in the territory of other members; nevertheless, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama told other ECOWAS countries that goods coming into Nigeria must have 30 per cent local input as part of the conditions to reopen the borders, while insisting that Nigeria will no longer tolerate the repackaging of imported goods. 

In 1984, Buhari broke ties with the International Monetary Fund, when the fund asked the government to devalue the naira by 60%. Only recently, the President asked Nigerians to be wary of statistics developed abroad by the World Bank, IMF and other foreign organisations. “Some of the statistics from foreign bodies are wild estimates that bear little relation to the facts on the ground,” Buhari said via his official Twitter handle.

“no petroleum product no matter the tank size is permitted to be discharged in any filling station within 20 kilometres”

The government also announced that no petroleum product no matter the tank size is permitted to be discharged in any filling station within 20 kilometres to the border – This policy to control petroleum products is also another repeat of the Buhari regime of 1984, where Nigeria closed down all stations within 10 kilometres with Benin.

The Nigerian government through Hameed Ibrahim Ali, who serves as the Controller General of the Customs Service has argued in support of what the Chinese did regarding border closure many years ago. “China closed their border for 40 years and today they are great, don’t you want Nigeria to be great?” he stated.

This argument has however been condemned by analysts, describing it as incorrect and lacks merits.

Mao’s cultural revolution led to the Great Chinese famine that killed 15 million people.

Mao’s cultural revolution as shown by the encyclopaedia Britannica, the policy was an economic exercise which led to the Great Chinese famine that killed 15 million people. A cultural revolution followed after, which led to an even bigger purge on capitalism and was also an economic failure that led to the death of an estimated 2 million people. Deng Xiaoping was forced to dismantle the “Maoist” policies related to the Cultural Revolution and even admitted the Cultural Revolution was responsible for the heaviest setbacks since the founding of the People’s Republic.

“The border closures will have particularly negative consequences for traders

According to the Bookings Institute, “The border closures will have particularly negative consequences for traders, especially informal ones, along the Benin-Nigeria border, as the two economies are closely intertwined. The informal sector throughout West Africa, and particularly in Benin, represents approximately 50 percent of GDP”.

Another SBM analyst, Mr Tunde Leye, disclosed to NewsWireNGR that “Since 1992, Nigeria’s consumption has outstripped production of rice. That is not going to change in the next 3 years – since 1989 actually, and the gap has gotten wider over the years.”

Nigeria imports most of what it eats because the demand for food exceeds supply. Nigeria does not produce all the food it consumes. According to SBM Intelligence, Nigeria’s domestic production of Rice was equal to domestic consumption way back in 1989 at 2000 kMT. 30 years later, however, domestic production stands at 5000 kMT while consumption stands at 7000 kMT.

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