By Otunba Yemisi Oladeji
Timeliness and potency of governmental policies determine the significance and positivity of its output, hence, the need for utmost commendation of the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to close every land border.
That every individual who have come up with that idea and supported President Buhari in its implementation had written their names in gold is an understatement, such individuals deserve National Award.
Without mincing words, the decision to close Nigeria’s land borders has turned out to be the most brilliant economic policy ever implemented successfully since the beginning of the 4th Republic in 1999, with glaring evidences of speedy impacts.
Of cardinal importance among several National challenges tend to be resolved by the closure are issue of ‘Unfavourable Term of Trade’ in which Nigerian economy is seriously loosing it’s strength in the real sector, as several manufacturing firms were leaving the country in droves, thereby turning the nation to mere dumping ground for imported goods.
Within a decade, companies like Ajaokuta steel, Leyland Motors, Bacita sugar, Nig textile mill, Michelin, Dunlop, Jebba paper mill, Kaduna Textile , Nigerian Airways to mention but a few folded up or became redundant, while other manufacturing firms left the Nigeria for neighbouring countries to site their production plants, thereby aggravating the scourge of unemployment and imbalance in trade, as they flood Nigeria’s market with finished goods.
It is indisputably correct to say that the feedback and reactions coming from neighbouring countries over the closure clearly signaling hope of booming economy for Nigeria, if the stance on border closure could be sustained, as this would force many manufacturing firms of different products, including agricultural produce , who rely on Nigeria’s market to have a rethink and return back to Nigeria.
Sincerely, the present position of the Federal Government on border closure has regrettably reminded every conscious Nigerian on what the country had lost in revenue and employment to neighbouring countries through “Father Christmas Approach “.
By this closure, it is now evident that many countries across the world, from Africa to far Asia are all depend on Nigeria to survive economically, while it was hitherto and rather erroneously believed that these counties were economically placed above Nigeria and doing well than us.
Despite Nigeria’s Comparative Cost Advantage in many sectors of the economy over many countries of the world, especially agriculture, where there are abundant arable land to plant palm tree, cocoa, rice, and other farm produce successfully, some countries in Africa and Asia are taken advantage of Nigeria’s laxity to grow their economies through this means at the expense of our growth.
There is huge hope that investors in all these countries, who solely relied on Nigeria’s market to remain in business might consider relocating their production plants to Nigeria, which in turn will transform to more earnings to the coffer of Nigerian government and huge employment opportunities for it’s teeming youths.
Although, there are these feelings in some quarters that the decision by the Federal Government to close border might be counterproductive, especially as they reasoned that the price of products like rice and other stable foods might skyrocketed as a result of shortage of supply over demand.
However, the fact of the matter is that, recent policy on border closure has dragged many to farm, most especially rice farmers, who are taking advantage of the closure against foreign rice to embark on aggressive rice plantation across Nigeria; meaning that although, there might be little discomfort in short run, the domestic production of many goods, especially stable food like rice would sufficiently meet up with domestic demand and even surpass it in the long run.
Moving forward, the policy on border closure has also positively affected our energy sector more significantly, as it addresses issue of subsidized petroleum products being smuggled out of Nigeria to be sold in neighboring countries. According to the World Bank extracts, the average pump price of petrol in 2010 to 2016 was $0.52 per litre in Nigeria, while Benin Republic was selling for $1.01, in Cameroun for $1.14 and in Niger 1.04.
Presently, petrol sells at $0.40 per litre in Nigeria, and at the rate of $0.91 and $1.07 in Benin and Cameroon respectively. Obviously, the profit margin, as a result of the difference in prices is enough to encourage smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria through our porous borders.
The paradox of being the largest exporter of crude oil in Africa, and at the same time the largest importer of refined oil products should ordinarily wake the political class up to the urgency of turning our local refineries around genuinely for optimal production , in order to meet domestic demand and curb smuggling, which is amounting to outright waste of our resources.
Speaking on our National security architecture, closure of the land borders has tactically curb the menace of proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which had aided insurgency in the North East, Banditry in the North West, and brutal armed robbery attacks in the South.
On a final note, shutting our border against volatile neighbouring African countries like : Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin would keep our territories safe against illegal immigrants of criminal tendencies, who have constituted serious threat to our National security in the past.
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