By Esenvosa Izah
The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has said the reopening of the four land borders will revive and boost business and economic activities while generating revenue to government coffers.
NECA’S Director-General, Dr Timothy Olawale, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos while commending the Federal Government for reopening the borders.
Olawale said that the re-opening of the borders was long expected, saying its closure brought untold hardship to many Nigerians, including a large number of informal-sector players, and individuals doing legitimate businesses across the borders.
According to him, this has resulted in unemployment and poverty.
“We commend the opening of four land borders by the government which had been closed to check the menace of smuggling goods and arms and ammunition into the country and protect local businesses, among other reasons.
“We note that the re-opening of these borders was a good development; Seme Border in the South-West, Ilela Border in the North-West, Mfun Border in the South-South and Maigatari Border also in the North-West, ” he said.
The Director-General also said that the border reopening will translate to a seamless implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He said it would also stem the tides of growing prices of goods and services, especially food components in the Composite Product Index in calculating the Inflation rate in the country.
“While we called for more developmental trade and foreign policies that will be friendly and in alignment with international treaties, consultation with critical stakeholders, especially the Organised Private Sector in policy formulation process of government at all levels, should be prioritised,” he said.
He said that in spite of the commendation, there was the need to consider some of the reasons why Nigeria closed its land borders, including curbing the importation of Coronavirus into the country.
He also noted that others included the fight against smuggling of rice and other goods; checkmating against human traffic; curtailing illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural products into the country from neighbouring West African nations.
Olawale, therefore, urged government to ensure that imported commodities must be thoroughly checked to prevent influx of contraband and harmful products into the country.
“The government should prioritise security going forward. It will be imperative to further equip security agencies, step up patrols in and around the border areas, and enhance the Nigeria Customs Service’s collaboration with local indigenes to facilitate effective policing of the borders.
“In the wake of the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the country, the need to observe all health protocols for people coming into and going out of the country should be enforced strictly.
“Also, government should ensure that the country is not a dumping ground for imported food items and other materials, especially during the Christmas season,” he said.