Nigeria’s land borders with Benin, Togo, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad were temporarily blocked on August 20, 2019, due to a high level of smuggling of goods into the nation, particularly staple foods including rice, cooking oil, poultry, tomatoes, flour, and pasta. There are no further limitations on the import and export of products over land borders.
The authorities closed the border because rice was being smuggled into the nation. Unsurprisingly, rice has established itself as a subject of ongoing national discussion because it is one of the key national staple foods. It is impossible to talk about the land border closure without mentioning rice, given its enormous demand, lack of domestic supply to satisfy needs, cultural veneration, and taste preferences.
The domestic demand for rice in Nigeria alone is estimated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be 7.3 million metric tonnes. Presently, 4.8 million metric tonnes are produced locally year. There were also unauthorized exports of cheaper, subsidized gasoline from Nigeria to its neighbors.
Nigeria’s land borders being closed has so far increased the government’s revenue in a variety of ways. Because of the border closure, more taxes are now being collected on the larger amount of merchandise entering the nation lawfully through the ports. The following are the importance of border closure in Nigeria:
The closing of the border has made it easier to control the flow of substandard goods into Nigeria
Nigeria as a nation lacks the resources and know-how necessary to adequately monitor activity near its land borders and keep an open border system. Both the National Immigration Commission and the Nigerian Customs Service lack the necessary equipment and expertise to effectively monitor the operations along Nigeria’s border. As a result, the nation’s border gates were left open, allowing foreigners and citizens to take advantage of the free trade agreements to carry out criminal operations like smuggling contraband goods, drugs, food products like rice and chicken, fuel, and other commodities.
Before Nigeria implemented a tight border policy, the nation saw a catastrophic influx of subpar items entering its territory. The Benin Republic’s western border was a major source of worry. Most agricultural goods, including rice, were smuggled into Nigeria in significant quantities from the Benin Republic. The majority of the rice transported into the Benin Republic from Asia was smuggled into Nigeria through the nation’s unguarded borders.
These rice bags were being smuggled illegally as well. Additionally, they were of poor and inferior quality. The Nigerian Governors Forum complained to the federal government about the poor and subpar quality of rice at local markets in Nigeria at some point in 2017. They pointed out that the bags of rice were of poor quality because they had either been officially rejected in their nations or had lingered too long in storage before being smuggled into Nigeria.
However, it has been noted that the importation of subpar items into Nigeria has significantly decreased since the closed border policy there was adopted and put into effect. The border shutdown has assisted in reducing the number of inferior items entering the nation.
The Nigerian economy has also been helped by border closures.
The safety and welfare of a nation’s residents falls completely under the jurisdiction of the government. The closure of the nation’s land borders was motivated by a desire to fulfill this obligation that the Nigerian government owes its citizens. The Nigerian administration has made significant progress since the borders were shut. These successes include a rise in employment opportunities and a tremendous growth in the production and sale of domestic goods. The government’s income from legally imported commodities has increased as a result of the implementation of the closed border policy.
These successes also include a decrease in the rate of fuel subsidies and a decrease in the rate of smuggling of commodities into the nation. Additionally, the implementation of the closed border policy has resulted in the development of mills of all sizes. These mills were built in order to ensure that rice was produced domestically and that the gap left by the border closure was filled. This has been made feasible by an increase in both the demand for and procurement of local rice.
Since the implementation of the closed border policy, the rate of fuel subsidies has also decreased because the illicit exports of subsidized fuel from Nigeria are now thoroughly investigated and prohibited. In recent years, there have been more rice farmers. The number of well-established businesses is likewise increasing.
Formally, the ongoing smuggling of rice and poultry goods prevented rice millers and poultry producers from making sales. They are currently experiencing phenomenal sales, which has aided in the creation of jobs for individuals. In other words, there is undeniable evidence that the Nigerian economy has improved since the closed border policy was implemented.
Due to the border closure, the Nigerian market is no longer subject to unfair competition.
Formally, the manufacturing sector of the nation faced challenges from unrestrained competition, particularly from imported goods. Additionally, illegal products entering the nation through its land borders weren’t carefully examined to make sure they had paid the correct import taxes and tariffs. Due to this, the prices at which these illegally imported or even locally produced goods were sold were cheaper than those of legal imports. Even though the smuggled items are of poor quality, the price disparity between them and the legally imported and locally produced goods creates a competitive environment that benefits the smuggled goods.
Furthermore, the market appeared to favor the vendors of such low-quality, illegally imported goods since Nigerians appeared to prefer imported rice to locally produced rice. Prior to the implementation of the closed border policy in Nigeria, local rice production was in relatively low demand. However, since the policy’s implementation, Nigeria’s rice production has increased significantly.
The introduction of this practice has also accelerated the demand for locally grown rice. Therefore, it is accurate to claim that the Nigerian border closure has assisted in reducing unjust competition in the Nigerian market. Additionally, this has boosted the number of people buying locally made goods. Due to the rise in demand for regional poultry, local poultry farmers have also had cause for celebration.