The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, says the federal government may soon reopen the nation’s land borders as the presidential committee set up on the border closure had recommended reopening, a move the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture has applauded. However, no date has been fixed.
The DG, NACCIMA, Amb. Ayo Olukanni, explained that the planned reopening of the border would aid trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
The border closures, which were closed on August 20, 2019, a move the Federal Government said was to check smuggling and other untoward activities, have seen the prices of goods skyrocket, plunging citizens into untold hardship.
Latest figures show that Nigeria’s inflation rate rose by 14.23% (year-on-year) in October 2020 as against 13.71% recorded in September 2020. This was contained in the consumer price index report, recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the report, the October figures indicate a persistent increase in 14 months and the highest recorded since March 2018. Also, on a month-on-month basis, the Headline index increased by 1.54% in October 2020, this is 0.06% rate higher than the rate recorded in September 2020 (1.48%). This is a 30-month high, posing a challenge for increased spending.
Gross domestic product (GDP) data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Saturday showed that Nigeria fell into its second recession in five years in the third quarter of 2020. Experts have advised that lifting the border blockade will help Nigeria check its worst recession in decades.
They also argued that the government will have to spend its way out, and empower citizens to spend more.
Speaking with State House Correspondents in Abuja at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, Ahmed said although the committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari had recommended to the president to reopen the borders, the report had yet to be submitted.
The committee, which had done an assessment of the gains of the border closure vis-a-vis the downsides, has the ministers of finance, budget, and national planning, interior and foreign affairs as members.
Ahmed, who was silent on the date of submission and also the date of the reopening, said the report will be submitted “once members of the committee sign the report”.
She had during a discussion at the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES #26), assured that the borders would be reopened soon, explaining that “the president set up a committee and we have made an assessment and all the members of the committee agreed and are recommending to the president that it is time to reopen the borders.
“The objective has been met in the sense that we have been able, over these couple of months, to work together with our partners in a tripartite committee and do a joint border patrol together and reinforce the sanctity of the commitments that we made to each other.
“So, each side has learned its lessons. Nigeria has been affecting our partners in terms of businesses that we have in Nigeria as well. So, we will be expecting that the borders will be reopened very soon. The date will be decided by Mr. President,” she had said.