President Mahammadu Buhari, has insisted that Nigerian borders will only be reopened upon recommendations from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
For this reason, Mr Buhari, is calling on all affected neighboring countries to exercise restraint over the closure of the Nigerian border with Benin.
His comment comes on the back of a meeting he held with the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who also doubles as the Chairman of the ECOWAS Committee set up to resolve the border closure impasse.
Nigerian Border Closure
On August 20, 2019, the Nigerian Government, in a move to curb the smuggling of large quantities of rice and other essential commodities, took steps to close it borders to neighbouring countries including Benin and Niger, whose borders were partially closed.
But to the surprise of many watchers, the Nigerian Government, later announced that it was extending the border closure to January 31, 2020.
The January 31 date had since come to pass and the borders still remain closed. Leaving the businessmen and women from neighboring countries in total dismay, with some calling for reprisal action on Nigerian Traders in their countries.
As if this was not enough, the Nigerian Customs Service has threatened to shut down all supermarkets and shops patronizing and retailing foreign rice as well as other prohibited items.
Whiles attempt are being made to get the Nigeria authorities to reopen it borders, some analysts of the view that no foreign policy can persuade the Nigerian Government to rescind it’s decision as the economic reasons for taking the action was much stronger.
Border closure bearing fruits
For instance, the Country Director for the AfCFTA, Mr Louis Yaw Afful, had earlier on stated that the action was fetching the Nigerian Government some N2 million Niara monthly.
Aside from this assertion, the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, in a media brief after the close-door meeting held between President Buhari the Burkinabe President, said closure had so far yielded significant gains for the country.
He cited the reduction in the influx of illegal arms and ammunition as an example of some of the successes chalked from the border closure
Meeting with ECOWAS
A correspondent at the meeting between the Nigerian president and ECOWAS, comments.
“The issue of the border closure came up, and so we had this meeting to see how to reconcile the closure of the border and the ECOWAS principles on free movement of goods, persons and services”.
“So he came here to brief the President on the findings of the result of that meeting in Burkina Faso and essentially, to look at how to move onto the issue of free movement and opening the borders”, he explained.
He further talked about the warehousing which has remained a major problem at the border.
“Also, one of the issues that has come up is some of the warehouses along the border and the request that as part of a solution to the problem, these warehouses should also be dismantled” he stated.