Buhari Pleads with Nigerian Neighbours to Endure Inconveniences of Border Closure

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Muhammadu Buhari

•Vows not to reopen boundaries until committee submits report
•Ghanaian president pleads for reopening, says Nigerian market strategic for Ghana’s products

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday urged Nigerian neighbours to bear with the country over the closure of the nation’s land borders.

The president, while responding to pleas by Ghanaian President, Mr. Nana Akufo-Addo, that Nigeria should reopen its land borders, expressed regrets that the partial border closure was having a “negative economic impact on our neighbours.”

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said in a statement that Buhari, at a meeting in London with Akufo-Addo, explained that the borders were not closed mainly to forestall the smuggling of only food items, notably rice, but to fight the influx of arms and ammunition, and hard drugs into the country.

The two leaders held the bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020 in the United Kingdom.

Buhari told his Ghanaian counterpart that he could not keep his eyes open and watch youths being destroyed through cheap hard drugs as well as allow a compromise of the country’s security through the influx of small arms with impunity.

“When most of the vehicles carrying rice and other food products through our land borders are intercepted, you find cheap hard drugs and small arms under the food products. This has terrible consequences for any country,” Buhari stated.

He added that although the border closure was having a “negative economic impact on our neighbours, we cannot leave our country, particularly the youths endangered.”

Buhari noted that the Sahel region had been saturated with small arms, which accounted for severe security challenges in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
“We are in fact the biggest victims,” he stated.

Buhari vowed not to reopen the borders until the committee set up on the matter submits its final report and decision taken on it.
“We will get things sorted out. Our farmers, especially those who grow rice, now have a market and are happy and we are also concerned about hard drugs and weapons.

“Once the committee comes up with its recommendations, we will sit and consider them,” he said.
Earlier, Akufo-Addo had called for “an expedited process because the Nigerian market is significant for certain categories of business people in Ghana.”
Akufo-Addo also spoke on the need for Nigeria to protect its citizens.