Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has faulted the gradual reopening of land borders to Dangote and BUA groups, saying such a selective approach contradicts the general principles and provisions of the recently enacted Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) Act.
NANTS also stated that doing so could further worsen inflation as well as other socio-economic and political challenges, including government revenue, ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) and the overall ECOWAS regional integration process.
The Presidency recently directed that Nigerian land borders which had been shut since August 20, 2019, be reopened to allow Dangote, BUA groups and an unnamed gas company to resume exports.
But speaking during a stakeholders’ review meeting on the recommendations of the policy dialogue on border closure and matters arising, in Abuja, the National President of NANTS, Dr. Ken Ukaoha called on the federal government to immediately reopen the land borders to all genuine businesses and deploy security intelligence- sharing, surveillance tactics and trade facilitation lessons learnt during the closure for effective policing and regulation of the borders and corridors.
According to him, this was in order to encourage trade facilitation as well as unhindered movement of genuine goods to enhance food security and livelihoods.
He said the original intention of the border closure was to serve essentially as a warning shot for smugglers and other criminals using the land borders to perpetrate economic sabotage and insecurity on Nigeria’s socio-political and economic environment.
Ukoha noted that the relevant security agencies should have by now been able to identify, gather and document enough lessons and drawn strategies to effectively control the borders for the good of the economy and Nigerians as a whole.
He added that reopening of land borders after a protracted closure dating back to August 20, 2019, would send the right signal, not only to genuine business actors in Nigeria, but also to the entire ECOWAS business community as well as community citizens, and particularly serve as a relief from the traumatic devastation caused by Covid-19 and for which businesses and the economies have remained comatose.
He said: “Reopening of the borders to only two companies –Dangote and BUA companies appears rather a lopsided and ‘selective decision’ that would only engender monopolies, which contradicts the enshrined general principles and provisions of the recently enacted Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) Act signed on to by Mr President.
“Similarly, the decision further contradicts the principles of ease of doing business which the present administration has been vigorously pursuing as a commendable strategy for trade facilitation.
“Such decision negates and diminishes the essence of financial facilities and/or palliatives to SMEs (including the recent N75 billion MSMEs fund, Covid-19 survival funds), which the present administration, like other governments across the globe, is pumping into the system so as to reactivate and propel SMEs towards increased productivity.”