The closure of Nigeria’s borders by the Federal Government is causing a lot of damage, according to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI). The LCCI said the total shutdown of the borders had cost Nigerians a whole lot just as it had impacted positively on the country.
While LCCI admitted that the border closure has reduced the rate of smuggling of rice, poultry products, sugar, and petroleum products in and out of the country, it said the decision had negatively affected those involved in legitimate businesses.
LCCI, which represents the business community in Lagos, spoke through its Director-General, Muda Yusuf, who said government often fails to count the costs of its policy on the citizens and businesses. He stated that jobs had been lost and prices had skyrocketed due to the closure of the borders.
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According to Yusuf, manufacturers who need intermediate products don’t have access to the raw materials needed due to the closure of the borders. Nairametrics reported how the closure affected local fruit juice start-up, So Fresh, which disclosed that its revenue had been affected. Ghana has also pleaded with the Nigerian government to reopen the borders.
Adverse impact on Nigerians
Yusuf stated that, “Jobs have been lost, prices have skyrocketed, legitimate exports to the sub-region have been halted, intermediate products for some manufacturers have been cut off, some multinationals companies have been de-linked from their sister companies in the subregion.
“The economies of border communities have been paralysed with consequences for unemployment and poverty. Over 90% of Nigeria’s trade with the West African sub-region is by road. We export manufactured products as well as agricultural products, detergents, toothpaste, plastic products, steel products, kitchen utensils, grains, ginger, onions, among others. We also undertake many re-exports to the sub-region. These are sources of livelihood of Nigerians doing legitimate businesses.”
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Don’t weigh benefit alone
Yusuf said there’s a need for the President Buhari-led administration to weigh both the benefits and costs of its decision to close the borders. He said the government should consider the impact such a decision would have on the livelihood of Nigerians.
Yusuf said it’s important for the government to factor in the cost of its policy on citizens and businesses because trade and commerce is a key contributor to the Nigerian economy. According to him, distributive trade sector accounts for about 15% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP). He said traders contribute massively to the employment in Nigeria.
Go after countries sabotaging Nigeria
While Yusuf said the LCCI is an advocate of secured borders, he said the government should intend to go after the countries that have failed to curtail the smuggling of products from their countries. He also advised that the government should fix the flaws in the structural, institutional and policy shortcomings that encourage smuggling in Nigeria.
In addition, Yusuf said the government should fix the factors contributing to the cost of production, operation, and goods, which have forced Nigerians to seek cheaper alternatives to goods produced in Nigeria. Other things Yusuf asked the government to fix include import tariffs and foreign exchange policy.