James Emejo in Abuja
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said though the country cannot afford to have its borders shut in perpetuity, reopening them at this time may roll back the economic gains so far achieved since the closure in August.
Speaking recently, at the maiden convocation lecture of the Edo University, Iyahmo, Auchi in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, he said an attempt to reopen the borders could create room for a flooding of smuggled items into the country, a situation that could cripple the ability of rice millers to sell their stock.
He also said smallholder farmers currently producing paddy would no longer be able to sell them while poultry farmers would equally be affected, a situation that could lead to massive job cuts in agriculture.
The CBN governor, who delivered the convocation lecture titled, ‘The Role of Monetary Policy Towards Economic Growth in Nigeria’, maintained that before thinking of reopening the borders, dialogue was needed with Benin Republic in order to exact their commitment to respect that, “we don’t want what they import into their country that we can produce in our country to pass through their borders into our country.”
The CBN governor further warned that failure to exact commitment from its neighbours, particularly in the areas of smuggling and dumping before reopening the borders could cause a relapse to conditions observed prior to closure.
He said: “If we don’t engage, you know what will happen? I will give you a few examples: before the border closure, two weeks before border closure, the president of the Rice Processors Association called to say that our Nigerian rice producers have produced rice they cannot sell that each of them is carrying close to 20,000 metric tonnes of rice in their warehouses.”
According to him: “The Rice Farmers Association led by Alhaji Goronyo came out and also said that farmers cannot sell the rice they produced, that’s the paddy rice.
“We also have people in the poultry industry that said they couldn’t sell their chicken and eggs- some were carrying up to 5,000 crates of eggs unsold and they said government needs to do something about it.’
He added: “Luckily, as a result of we intervening and other people intervening- in fact, it might interest you to know that most of the arms that have been brought into this country are being smuggled through the borders.
“Even the armed forces themselves gave in and said listen, that we need to do something about the borders. So, the government went ahead and shut the borders.
“And I am speaking truthfully: one week after the borders were closed, the president, the president of the Rice Millers Association called to say that all their millers had called to say that the rice they had in their warehouses had been sold. Paddy businesses are growing again.
“The poultry people also called to say they’ve sold all their eggs. All the chickens they have had been sold.”
Emefiele said: “So now when we say, those who say we should reopen our borders because they say it’s creating problems, what would happen is that when you reopen the borders again right, those smuggled items will come in our millers will no longer be able to sell their rice, our smallholder farmers that are producing paddy will no longer be able sell their paddy and our poultry farmers can no longer sell their poultry.”