The President, National Association of Nigerian Traders, Dr. Ken Ukaoha, has confirmed that the private sector of Nigeria’s economy is excited about the reopening of the country’s land borders, after over a year of its closure to trade with its neighbours. Eye on Port quoted Ukaoha as saying that the closure of the land borders had some negative impact on the Nigerian trading public. He said as a result, the traders in Nigeria had requested for some compensations for damages.
“We have even sent a memo in this regard. We are asking for compensation especially for those who have been doing legitimate businesses across the borders,” he disclosed. Ukaoha, who is also a trade lawyer, however, stated that the closure of the borders was an essential measure by the Nigerian government to primarily curtail the incidence of security threats in Nigeria. “This insecurity was associated with the movement of small arms and light weapons, as well as drug peddling across the region targeted at Nigeria’s environment.
The country discovered that a lot of things that were put in place appeared not to be working and was compromised,” he elaborated. He also said the total embargo was also to eliminate the incidence smuggling of some goods to and from Nigeria, which did not only undermined local production, but affected revenue mobilization through intra-regional trading. “There was the situation where you find rice from third party countries outside of West Africa flooding the country and displacing our rural farmers,” he cited. He said Nigeria’s regional trade counterparts violated some ECOWAS protocols in their dealings.
“The Interstate Road Transit Protocol provides that the customs officials of every country will have the responsibility of escorting goods destined to other countries with the seal intact till its destination. But what we have had is that, these goods will come from third parties with seals broken without customs escort. Smugglers latch on that,” he explained.
Ukaoha, Nigeria’s Af- CFTA champion, also disclosed that, Nigeria took the necessary step of closing its borders after failed attempts to get its immediate neigh-bours, Benin and Niger to commit to solving the trading violations, thus, the decision to close its borders. Speaking on the same programme, Ghanaian trade experts criticized Nigeria’s bully attitude that led to the closure of its land borders from August 2019 till December 2020, and cautioned that that kind of decision would not be condoned by AfCFTA.