Former President John Mahama has appealed to Nigeria to open its border at Seme.
According to the former President, even though he could appreciate the effect of rice smuggling on Nigeria, the unilateral decision to close the border is harmful to the ECOWAS agenda.
Delivering the 7th Real News Magazine Anniversary Lecture in Lagos Nigeria, the former President called on the Nigerian government to immediately strengthen its structures to check the illegal importation of goods so the borders can be reopened.
“The unilateral closure of the Nigeria border since August is a very worrying development for the growth of free trade in the ECOWAS sub-region. One can understand the harmful effects of the unbridled smuggling of goods on the growth of local production. But it is problematic that sub-regional economic activity and trade should suffer because of domestic institutional weaknesses.”
“Nigeria must invest in strengthening its institutions and systems that are responsible for the importation of illegal or prohibited goods. The total closure especially the Benin border is having a toll on many SMEs especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire that rely on inter-country trade for survival. Businesses in Nigeria that also rely on supplies from this area are also suffering. With the signing of the joint task force agreement within Nigeria and her neighbours, I want to appeal to Nigeria to open up its borders so that economic activities can resume.”
President Muhammadu Buhari unexpectedly closed Nigeria’s borders to imported goods in August declaring the time had come to end rampant smuggling across the porous frontiers.
The closure has had a devastating effect on Benin, Ghana, and others.
The closure which has irked Ghanaian traders will continue until January 2020, a memo from the government of Nigeria to border control personnel announced.