PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has indicated that Nigeria may re-open her borders soon after pledging to abide by any decision reached by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) tripartite committee on the matter.
Last year, Nigeria closed all her land borders with neighbouring countries, claiming that the influx of foodstuffs like sugar, rice and other items such as cement were hurting local producers. According to the government, Asian countries like China, Thailand and India in particular, were using Nigeria’s neighbours as a launch pad through which to dump their goods in the Nigerian market.
Exploiting a loophole in the Ecowas protocol, these Asian countries were shipping goods into Nigeria duty-free. Since the borders have been closed, goods have begun stockpiling in neighbouring countries like Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana as they are unable to access the Nigerian market and the hardship it has caused, led to Ecowas setting up a tripartite committee made up of Nigeria, Niger Republic and Benin Republic to review the matter.
Speaking yesterday when he hosted the outgoing president of the Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development Bashir Ifo and his successor, Dr George Donkor, in Abuja, President Buhari pledged to abide by any decision taken. He pointed out that Nigeria will honour the regional decision taken whenever the committee’s report is submitted.
President Buhari said: “We have saved millions of dollars and we have realised that we don’t have to import rice. We have achieved food security and we have curtailed the importation of drugs and the proliferation of small arms, which threaten our country.”
At the meeting, President Buhari thanked Mr Ifo for the successes recorded during his eight-year tenure and advised his successor to sustain the achievements. Mr Ifo informed President Buhari that the bank had witnessed a transformation from its old status as a loss-making organisation to a profit-generating institution as commitments from member-states had doubled to $1.4bn.
Dr Donkor also thanked President Buhari and Nigerians for their support towards his emergence as Mr Ifo’s successor, noting that without Nigeria, he would not have emerged. He also acknowledged President Buhari’s economic strategies as reflected in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, saying the document has brought about economic recovery, stability and food security across the country.