Sen. Shehu Sani has called on President Bola Tinubu to reopen all land borders across Nigeria.
Sani, a former lawmaker representing Kaduna Central, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.
He said reopening of the borders was necessary to allow for free trade in line with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol.
He opined the closure of borders over the years, “killed the Nigerian economy”.
According to Sani, the development plunged a lot of Nigerians into abject poverty, particularly those at the border communities.
Sani said the policy while impoverishing an average Nigerian, enriched the rich.
The closing of land borders has not led to enough production of food for more than 200 million Nigerians as envisaged.
“It is disturbing to note that the past government closed down land borders and gave preference to the rich by opening sea borders for rice importation,” he said.
Sani also said “the policy also did not stop terrorism.
“We have had more problems of terrorism, which shows that it was simply futile.”
The former lawmaker said besides the economic challenges being encountered, the shutting down of borders against other African countries was disturbing.
“As Africans, we should not shut our borders to our neighbours.
“Let us be mindful that over half a million Nigerians are there as refugees in Benin Republic, Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.
“So, how do we close our borders to them when they did not close theirs to us.
“As Africans, we should be our brothers’ keepers,” he said.
According to him, rather than closing borders, they should be open to free trade while relevant agencies of government manned the borders properly.
“To check smuggling, we have the Nigeria Customs Service, Immigration Service and security agencies.
“You cannot have these agencies and at the same time close down our borders.
“If we are paying them, they should be able to deliver because we cannot close down our borders forever,” he said.
Prof. Job Nmadu, an Agricultural Economist, Federal University of Technology Minna, said reopening of land borders would ease movement of legitimate goods and services.
He said it would also generate additional revenue for government while providing employment for border communities.
The reopening of land borders will reduce illegal activities across the borders.
“It is also in the interest of Nigeria as part of ECOWAS protocol on movement of goods and persons within free borders of member states to reopen our borders.
“This move will equally bring down the prices of goods and services which has skyrocketed in the wake of the border closure.
The don, who is also President, Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists, said the reason behind the closure was not critically thought out by the past administration.
According to him, the closure brought hardship to border communities which livelihood and sustenance depend on trading across borders on daily basis.
Nmadu said the closure “created artificial scarcity on Nigerian side and surplus on our neighbors’ side, thereby increasing illegal activities.”
He called on the Federal Government to accompany the reopening of the borders with some policies that would make it successful.
He further said there was a need for downward review of levies, charges and commissions.
According to him, it will reduce the tendency to engage in illegal activities across borders.
Mr Amodu Achema, the General Manager, Arewa Cottons and Allied Products Limited, said it was necessary to open the borders.
Achema, who is also Chairman of a social group, Iko Udama, said rather than border closure, more factories should be made competitive.
“I do not see the wisdom in closing borders.
“In spite of the border closure, we do not have the self sufficiency in food production as canvassed.
Also, the things borders were closed against were still finding their way into the country.”
The National Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Chief Superintendent of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, said some borders were still closed.
“There is no new development with regard to the opening of borders across the country.
“Not all borders are opened as at today.
“There was an initial opening of some borders by the past administration and later four additional borders were opened.
“That is Idiroko, Kamba, Jibiya and Ikom,”he said.
He said all land borders in the North East had yet to be reopened owing to insecurity.
On reports in some quarters that Seme border had been reopened to importation of vehicles, Maiwada said he was not aware of such development.
Former president, Muhammadu Buhari, had in August 2019, shut all land borders to encourage local production of rice and to check smuggling.