By Emmanuella Anokam
The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has urged the Federal Government to produce full documentation of causes, cost and analysis of impacts of the border closure.
Dr Ken Ukaoha, NANTS President, made this known on Thursday in Abuja while commending the Federal Government for reopening four land borders on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the immediate reopening of four critical land borders which have been shut down since Aug. 20, 2019.
Ukaoha, a Trade and Economic Development Law Advocate, said the documentation should include causes, effects, costs and benefits, including analysis of actions taken and lessons learnt from the border closure.
This, he said would serve as a critical reference material in the event of any future and/or possible manifestation or re-occurrence of actions that led to the closure.
“NANTS joins the travel public and entire business community in West Africa in commending the government for listening to the voice of actors and a good judgement that would place the nation and ECOWAS region at the fringes of benefits to trade actors and economies,” he said.
He said that a documentation of goods originally stranded at the borders since the closure, the contents/classifications, and their owners as well as the process of release to their owners was imperative.
The NANTS boss said this would avoid unnecessary legal actions and also encourage use of data for border policy making.
“Cross border business actors including traders, transporters, manufacturers, farmers as well as the travel public must avoid compromising the border officials and luring them to corrupt practices that deface the possible benefits of the border closure.
“In particular, every actor must ensure proper documentation and honest manifest and declaration of goods to avoid unnecessary delays and unjustifiable requests from border officials.
“Nigerian consumer public must show great sense of responsibility and patriotism by changing their attitude, their taste and their quest for foreign goods and commodities in place of domestic products.
“This is what leads to massive importation and smuggling through the borders, which ultimately stifles local production capacity, thereby inflicting serious harm on our producers, farmers and local service providers while also eroding the economy as a whole.
“Border law enforcement agencies must manage the borders effectively without compromise to ensure that substandard products, prohibited items including drugs, small arms and light weapons are not trafficked or peddled across the borders into the country,” he advised.
The expert further advised that a process of reprimanding unscrupulous officials must be put in place so as to serve as warning to perpetrators of illicit cross border activities and deter others from corrupt practices.
He said that lessons learnt by enforcement agencies during the period of border closure must now be displayed for effective regulation, management and coordination of the borders and the corridors.
He however urged the government to equip borders and officials with technologies to discharge their duties for the benefit of the economy.
According to Ukaoha, border communities must refrain from being used by smugglers and constituting facilitators of smuggling activities that end up further killing the economy.
In the same vain, he said traditional leaders among border communities must purge themselves from all illicit activities that betray and compromise border officials.
He cautioned NANTS members and indeed all business actors and cross border business operators to play by the rules and avoid getting involved in negative activities.
NAN reports that the land borders approved for immediate re-opening by Buhari were Seme in the Southwest, Ilela in the Northwest, Maigatari in the North-West and North-Central, and Mfun in the South-South.
The remaining land borders are to be reopened on or before Dec. 31.