A non-governmental organisation, Social Integrity Network (SINET), Sunday expressed disappointment over a media report credited to the Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadiri, describing the border closure policy as unsustainable. SINET in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Malam Ibrahim Issah, wondered why the MAN boss will make such comment, considering the successes recorded by the border closure in the Nigerian economy.
SINET urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to hearken to such comments, noting that opening the border without strong trade agreements and import regulations could cause total collapse of local rice factories, which would eventually subject the nation’s industrial drive to hardship, as smugglers of foreign rice will regain access back into the Nigerian markets. The group, while commending government on measures taken to improve the economy and tackle corruption, berated undue pressure on the President to reopen the Nigerian border, “which does not reflect the overall interest of Nigerian populace. The move was sponsored by few individuals who are economic saboteurs.” “While the nation is counting the numerous gains of border closure especially in the areas of economic recovery, revenue generation and reduction of insurgency, it is saddening that some unpatriotic fellows want the policy reversed. Many industries have commenced operations thereby providing more jobs for Nigerians while the Central Bank of Nigeria has invested heavily on local manufacturers by providing them with loans. “Unfortunately, with the huge efforts made by rice farmers, as well as rice millers towards ensuring that the nation remain self sufficient in the rice production, it is surprising to note that foreign rice are already getting their ways back into the country. The effect of such unwholesome moves by some cartel will have negative impact on the nation’s economic drive.
“The Nigeria Customs Service and the Central Bank of Nigeria recently rolled out the numerous economic gains of border closure while influx of arms and ammunitions has reduced drastically. We still need to extend the border closure policy because Nigeria’s economy is not ready for distraction.” The group however advised the federal government to engage the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) in a taskforce operation of checking warehouses found with foreign rice and imposing stringent sanctions on culprits in the collective interest of Nigerians. “Our fear is that if smuggling of foreign rice is left unchecked, many local rice mills will soon collapse while investors would be declared bankrupt, thereby opening another episode of financial distress on banks that provided them with loan facilities for business operations and expansion,” the group also said.