Barrister Emmanuel Nwagbara (Stakeholder)
My take is that closing land borders is just a technical solution to the problems; it does not offer real solutions to the issues of concern at the borders. Why do we have border security agencies like the Customs and Immigration, it is an indictment on the part of the government to actually close border just because they want to check smuggling or illegal immigration. I think there are people whose duties are to check smuggling, which is why the Nigeria Customs Service is there at the borders. And if you are talking about illegal immigration that is why we have the Nigerian Immigration Service and there are other security agencies at the border to assist them. So finding this closure an alternative does not appeal to standard, it is less than standard measure to check areas of smuggling around the borders. No country will shut its borders on such excuses that the federal government is giving, our borders should be open, guarded and areas of concern should be taken care of by those whose duties are to take care of such areas. Because when you have the border opened a lot of legitimate trades go on across the border, there are so many people whose livelihood depends on the trade across the border. So Nigeria loses more, a lot of people are thrown into the unemployment market when you close the border for people who trade at the border. So we as a country will lose more by closing the borders.
Mr. Yinka Bakare (President NAFFAC)
Honestly speaking, the answer is No, in as much as we agree that we have a security challenges, but the best the government would have done was to up the game towards checkmating the importation of arms. And again the country just signed the AfCFTA and they are coming up with the closure of land borders for about one month now, I think it is a wrong signal for traders. And also looking at not giving a prior notice before the closure, there was not enough time for people who trade on that route to prepare themselves for that closure. And even an average man on the street is fully aware of the negative effect of the closure on every Nigerian. But by and large, it is a big No to professionals like me, because it will affect us in future negotiation when it comes to trade and agreement. But I think the government should also look into it and come up with better options and better ways of policing our borders than this closure; it is just as if you are closing the ports; it is not a good one. We still have a lot of illegal routes; a smuggler cannot take the normal route to smuggle items. So the Nigerian government has to look for a way to close all those illegal routes. I f we are having the legal borders a lot of things can be controlled but we have a lot of illegal routes.
Mr. Stanley Ezenga (NAGAFF)
I think that the closure will help the government to x-ray the operations and stop the blame game. And another one; don’t forget that recently the country signed the AfCFTA and then it is now a kind of double jeopardy; you signed for free movement of goods and you are closing the border. So what is the purpose of the agreement which after signing you now closed the border, I think the timing is not right even though it was done in good faith.
Rev Nicodemus Odolo (Stakeholder)
The closure of the land borders does not favour us at all; even the government. On the issue of smuggling, on these borders we have our men guarding them what the government needs to do is to improve on those security agents manning the borders in the area of providing technology. They should go and see other border stations in other countries it is out of wickedness that the government closed the border. The closure is not justifiable, it is totally wrong and they just signed the AfCFTA they should know how to guard the border. Just imagine between Mile 2 to Seme they have more than 15 check points on the road, for what reason. There should be a border station to monitor what is going on in the border. There is no need for all these, it is the government that is encouraging corruption.
Remi Ogungbemi (Chairman AMATO)
I want to say that any family that cannot provide for themselves is not a good family, so is it with any nation that cannot provide for her citizens.
If as a country we are depending on food coming out from outside the country , its dangerous because if there is any external aggression and the source of our food supply is closed, definitely we are going to have problems. But however before a father of the house can say he doesn’t want any food to be coming into his house again, the bread winner of the hose must have made provision for what the family will be eating, but if he doesn’t have provision then he should not block the source of food coming to that house, so even though we know that we can feed ourselves, we still have to make arrangement of how the local food can sustain us before we can block the channel from outside.
Olufemi Olabanji (Chairman, Lillypond ANLCA)
I would not say they are not justified, because security is as important to us as life, if the Federal Government has said that they closed or partially closed the border due to security issues, then we should give it to them, of course we know so much has been lost to the closure especially perishable goods, but we cannot because of that put the safety of lives of the citizens at risk, like I said that is just my own opinion.
Mansur Ahmed (MAN DG)
The Federal Government may have good intention for the partial closure of the Nigeria-Benin border, but it must be done in a way that entrepreneurs and manufacturing concerns that carry out genuine businesses along that corridor are not adversely affected.
If this is not well managed, it may lead to prices of some items hitting the rooftops. So, the exercise must be carried out with the necessary caution.
Alhaji Bashir Yinusa (Stakholder)
I don’t think they are justified because, they did not put the interest of the common man to heart before taking the decision, now the price of goods have increased over night and when you ask why the increased, they will sarcastically tell you don’t you know the border has been closed. So for me I think this is not fair enough, more so, there was no prior notice before the closure.