Many Nigerians have continued to vent their anger/frustration over the government’s decision to close the country’s borders in a bid to shut off imported products. Going by people’s reactions on Twitter, the gesture is not appreciated. This is considering the fact that average Nigerians are already beginning to feel the negative effects of the economic policy. For instance, the prices of most goods have skyrocketed, especially goods like rice which is typically imported.
Note that Nigeria’s border shutdown applies only to goods coming and going out of the country by road through the country’s borders with its neighbours such as Cameroun, Ghana, Niger, etc. In other words, Nigerian manufacturers cannot export their goods through these borders just as importers cannot bring in foreign products. However, foreign trade can still happen between Nigeria and the rest of the world, provided goods are exported/imported by air and sea.
The border shutdown is part of the austerity measures that were recently introduced by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. Land border security will help to checkmate the dumping of foreign products which are often smuggled into the country through porous land borders.
So, why the outrage? Rice, which is one of Nigeria’s staples, is typically imported through the land borders Nigeria shares with its West African neighbours. Ever since the borders were shut, the prices of rice went up. Therefore, Nigerians are not happy about this and that is why they are protesting.
However, there is an even bigger issue at hand. As Dr. Aloy Chife pointed out this morning, “a closed border is a double-edged sword.” In other words, the border closure will not only affect those trying to bring in products into the country, but it will also affect Nigerian entrepreneurs who export their products to other countries. Charles Orjiako thought the same way too when he pointed out that Nigerian SMEs do not want to lose their West African markets because of this development.
In the meantime, the government has continued to insist that closing the borders is the right way to go. It is expected that this will help stimulate economic activities within the country by encouraging the local industry to produce more.