•Defers others till Dec. 31
By Omololu Ogunmade
Many business players expressed relief and excitement yesterday as the federal government announced the immediate reopening of four of the land borders, shut about 15 months ago, with a promise to reopen others before December 31.
There has been pressure on the federal government to reopen the land borders, with many analysts holding the policy as one of the dominant factors affecting the persistent rise in inflation.
But briefing reporters after the 28th weekly virtual FEC meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, listed those opened as Seme in the South-west, Mfun in the South-south, Ilela and Maigatari borders in the North-west
Ahmed said restrictions on importation of some commodities such as rice, poultry products and other products, would, however, continue.
Asked to comment on any accruable benefits from the closure of land borders since August last year, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, said the benefits were many.
According to him, the closure did not only give security agencies the opportunity to assess prevalent challenges on smuggling at the borders, but also stopped the smuggling of petroleum products out of the country.
Adebayo added that the closure stopped the smuggling of rice, poultry products and small arms while it is hoped that security agencies would leverage these benefits of the closures by ensuring that ending smuggling.
He said: “We have many advantages to the border closure. It has given the security agencies an opportunity to assess the problems at the borders, particularly with regards to smuggling. As you are all aware, before the border closures, a lot of petroleum products were being smuggled out from the borders to West African countries and border closures had created a situation that had tactically stopped that.
“They have been able to calculate the number of petroleum products being smuggled out by calculating the amount that is being lifted now compared to what was being lifted before. The issue of smuggling of rice to the country has reduced drastically and we are hoping that our agencies will be able to sustain that. So also is the issue of poultry smuggling.
“Also very important is the issue of importation of small arms and weapons into the country. That also has stopped. We are hoping and we are sure that this time around, our security agencies will be able to see that that doesn’t reoccur again. These are the issues that caused the closure of the borders in the first place and we have been able to put a stop to them.”