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%.”