By Dipo Olowookere
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday confirmed that the land borders closed for more than one year would be reopened anytime soon.
Mr Buhari made this confirmation when he gave an update on the meeting he had with Governors of the 36 states of the federation in Abuja.
He said Nigeria’s porous land borders were shut in August 2019 because of the incessant smuggling of arms and drugs into the country as well as contrabands.
According to him, the country’s neighbours, who had pushed for the reopening of the borders because the action was hurting their economies, have now got the message Nigeria was trying to pass across to them.
He said efforts are currently ongoing to remove the restriction placed on the import and export of goods through the land borders soon, though he did not disclose the precise time this would happen.
“In my meeting with state governors today, I explained that the closure of Nigeria’s land borders was partly an attempt to control the smuggling in of weapons and drugs.
“Now that the message has sunk in with our neighbours, we’re looking into reopening the borders as soon as possible,” the President posted on his verified Twitter page on Tuesday night.
It is important to note that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement signed by Nigeria and some other African countries is expected to commence next month. It was earlier expected to begin in July 2020, but for the lockdown caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
This means Nigeria will have to open its borders to other African nations from January 1, 2021. Goods and services would be required to free movement among member countries.
Recently, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had hinted that the land borders would be reopened soon.
However, some rice farmers allegedly made moves to stop this because they felt it could affect their business. They have been one of the major beneficiaries of this action, which was suddenly taken last year.