An international expert in border trade, Professor Godspower Felix, has disclosed that Nigerian shippers and manufacturers lost over N4.5 trillion to the 2019 border closure that lasted for one and half years.
Felix, who stated this while speaking with Daily Sun on the new year eve in Lagos, said that 2019 border closure was one of the policies that Federal Government got wrong.
He added that the policy brought huge losses on the economy and hardship on the border communities.
He said both shippers and local manufacturers suffered huge losses and incurred major lapses in financial transactions during the border closure, just as production lines have been shut down and workers were laid off.
“The loses were in two folds. One, shippers lost over N3 trillion, while, on the other side, manufacturers lost over N1.5 trillion. Do you know that manufacturers whose raw materials were stuck at the border lost an average of N5 billion daily, as they are unable to bring in raw materials or export their finished products.” He said during the border closure, over 2,000 trucks ladened with various goods and raw materials were trapped and got rotten at various border posts, adding that perishable goods stocked in some warehouses got spoilt, expired and damaged.
According to him, food and beverage manufacturers are the worst hit owing to their inability to import already purchased raw materials while their finished goods meant for the ECOWAS sub-region and trans-Sarahan markets were prevented from leaving the shores of Nigeria through the border.
“You don’t close your border for that long when you’re not in war. Now, Idiroko is under lockdown for months and business activities in that border have been paralysed. That border needs to be reopened for business.
“Government must engage experts, stakeholders and elders at this border to find a lasting solution to smuggling and killing of Customs officers. Shutting down the border is not the best solution,” he said.
However, he said the implication of the border closure is more than the gain. He said for instance, the government of Benin Republic had stopped all Nigeria-bound trucks laden with transit goods coming from Cote D’ivoire, Ghana and Togo.
“The Beninese government imposed new import duty of CFA9 million (N6.5 million) per transit truck on Nigeria-bound cargoes transiting through the country, which are exempted from all forms of duty under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocols on transit goods,” he said.
He hinted that thousands of trucks laden with Nigerian goods were trapped following the decision of the government of Benin Republic on transit cargo, adding that the decision was been taken as part of their retaliation of the Nigerian border closure of 2019 and the current closure of Idiroko border.