Strengthen your weak institutions instead of closing borders – Mahama to Nigeria

Following the closure of the Nigeria-Benin border, former President John Dramani Mahama  has noted that “it is problematic  that sub regional economic  activity  and trade should suffer because of domestic  institutional weaknesses,” calling on Nigeria  to reopen the border for economic  activities  to resume. 

The former President made the appeal in a lecture at the seventh Realnews Magazine Anniversary in Lagos, Nigeria, last Tuesday under the theme: “Beyond Politics: An economic narrative for West Africa.”

“Please, Nigeria must invest in strengthening its institutions and systems that are responsible for preventing the importation of illegal or prohibited goods,” he suggested.

He underscored the negative economic  impact the closure of the border is having on businesses in West Africa, including  Nigerian  businesses, stressing that the border be reopened  to save such businesses and stimulate economic  activity  as envisioned  by the Economic  Community  of West African States( ECOWAS). 

“The total closure of, especially the Benin border, is having a toll on many small-scale and medium enterprises (SMEs) particularly in Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire that rely on inter-country trade for survival. Businesses in Nigeria that also rely on supplies from this area are also suffering.”

“With the signing of the joint task force agreement between Nigeria and her neighbours, I want to appeal to Nigeria to open up its borders so that economic activities can resume,” he appealed. 

Nigeria closed its Benin border in August this year to tackle the smuggling of mainly rice and some other goods into Nigeria.  The closure, according to Nigerian authorities is expected to end in January 2020.

Nigeria has been much criticised for this development, with many arguing that it undermines the work of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is meant to “boost the combined consumer and business spending and increase intra-African trade by at least 53.2%.”