People & Money

FG Indecisive on Reopening Nigeria’s Borders

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, says the federal government may soon reopen the nation’s land borders as the presidential committee set up on the border closure had recommended reopening.

The border closures, which were effected in August 2019 to check smuggling and other untoward activities, have seen the prices of goods skyrocket, plunging citizens into untold hardship. Inflation is currently at a 30-month high, posing a challenge for increased spending. The inflation rate rose by 14.23% (year-on-year) in October 2020 as against 13.71% recorded in September.

Gross domestic product (GDP) data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Saturday showed that Nigeria fell into its second recession in five years in the third quarter of 2020. Experts have advised that lifting the border blockade will help Nigeria check its worst recession in decades. They also argued that the government will have to spend its way out, and empower citizens to spend more.

Speaking with state house correspondents in Abuja at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, Ahmed said although the committee set up by President Buhari had recommended to the president to reopen the borders, the report had not been submitted.

Also Read: Border Closure: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The committee, which had done an assessment of the gains of the border closure vis-a-vis the downsides, has the ministers of finance, budget, and national planning, interior and foreign affairs as members.

Ahmed, who was silent on the date of submission and also the date of the reopening, said the report will be submitted “once members of the committee sign the report”.

She had during a discussion at the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES #26), assured that the borders would be reopened soon, explaining that “the president set up a committee and we have made an assessment and all the members of the committee agreed and are recommending to the president that it is time to reopen the borders.

Also Read: Dangote Resumes Exportation Despite Border Closure

“The objective has been met in the sense that we have been able, over these couple of months, to work together with our partners in a tripartite committee and do a joint border patrol together and reinforce the sanctity of the commitments that we made to each other.

“So, each side has learned its lessons. Nigeria has been affecting our partners in terms of businesses that we have in Nigeria as well. So, we will be expecting that the borders will be reopened very soon. The date will be decided by Mr. President,” she had said.

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