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Border closure: Manufacturers lament losses one year after

Investors lose billions to policy
Smuggling still thrives

One year after the Federal Government ordered the closure of the country’s 4,477 kilometres land borders to protect

prises (NASME), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and other groups. Recall that on August 20, 2019, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and other government agencies were ordered to enforce the closure. Despite the criticism by the OPS, the closure appears to have favoured the country in one aspect as it has boosted revenue for the Customs. According to the Public Relations Officer, NCS, Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller, the joint border patrol exercise has continued to yield positive results and has saved the country huge resources and enhanced national security.

However, the OPS said that the closure of the borders had brought misfortune to their businesses, noting that smuggling and poor policy had made them to lose over N5 trillion. National President of the Association of Micro- Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN), Comrade Saviour Iche, said that manufacturing companies moved to other countries because of the negative impact the closure is having to their businesses. According to the Managing Director of Sceptre Consult, Jayeola Ogamode, Nigeria has become the hub of smuggling despite joint patrol by various security agencies.

He explained to New Telegraph that while other countries in West African region depend on Nigeria, the Federal Government has not taken full advantage of its various policies to boost the economy regardless of the coronavirus pandemic. Ogamode said that this was responsible for the massive smuggling of goods, which the country can produce locally. The managing director noted that Nigerians had not seen the impact of ban on rice, maize, palm oil on the local agricultural produce, which the government was trying to protect.

He said: “Apart from Lagos, go to other states, Nigerian markets and stores are still filled with imported rice, wheat, vegetable oil and other agricultural produce. What is the essence of border closure if we can still see foreign rice one year after?” Ogamode, who is a cargo consolidator, said that over 1,000 trucks laden with export goods had been at the borders since August last year, while foreign goods are entering the country through various borders across some states with impunity.

He advised the Federal Government to review the land border closure policy in the interest of Nigerian economy. Speaking in the same vein, the President of Local Manufacturers and Exporters under the auspice of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG), Chief Ede Dafinone, also said that members’ goods were still trapped at the border, having paid over N5 billion as duties to Customs. Dafinone said that government’s position on border closure was a disaster to MANEG members, who export goods across the borders.

For instance, he explained that some firms had been given contracts and paid in advance to deliver goods, which they could not supply till date because of the border closure. Another member of the association and a representative of Aarti Steel (Nigeria) Limited, Imokhai Ehimigbai, explained that some Nigerian traders took loans from banks to import, but that the goods had been trapped at the border since last year. He noted: “We are losing money daily. We don’t have contraband. We have goods like electronics, battery and some of the owners of these goods have died. We have lost over four or five members since this crisis.

The loan is there and interest is accumulating on a daily basis.” Meanwhile, records by the NCS revealed that the service had seized over N17.5 billion worth of goods through the various land borders. In the first seven months, it explained that 86,602 of 50 kilogrammes bags of parboiled foreign rice, bags of NPK fertiliser, vehicles, engine boats, drums of groundnut oil and other contraband valued at N7.35 billion were impounded from smugglers.

The seizures were made through a joint border patrol codenamed ‘Exercise SWIFT Response’ from the North-West, North-Central, South-West, and South- South geopolitical zones of the country. The Customs public relations officer stressed that the exercise, which has continued to yield positive results, had saved the country huge resources and enhanced national security.

the economy and tackle terrorism, banditry, smuggling and other illegalities, no fewer than 98 manufacturing companies have relocated from Nigeria to other West African countries. The situation has dealt an unprecedented blow on the economy as members of the organised private sector (OPS) are counting their losses so far put at over N5 trillion.

The OPS, which is the leading voice in the country’s private sector, comprises the Lagos Chamber of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), National Association of Small Industries (NASI), Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterthe

 

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