Obasanjo backs Buhari’s border closure commitment

Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has shown his support for the border closure as he tagged Benin Republic the dumping ground for goods.

This he said during a news briefing on Tuesday in Addis Ababa. The news briefing was organised on the margins of Policy Dialogue of African Business Associations on implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreements.

Obasanjo urged Benin to change its ways for a harmonious bilateral relationship between the two countries. According to This Day, he explained that Nigeria had endured smuggling and the likes for a long time. This, he said had undermined the country’s economic well being.

Obasanjo further noted that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was not created to allow one country to turn itself to a dumping ground.

“It happened when I was President of Nigeria. I called the then Benin President, Nicephore Dieudonne Soglo, to let us meet at any of our border posts over the issue. We eventually met at Badagry (in Nigeria), where we agreed that Nigerian Customs would be stationed in Benin. 

“They (the Nigerian Customs) are still there. We don’t have issues with goods manufactured in Benin — they are welcome. But as long as Benin allow dumping of goods, there will always be a problem with Nigeria,” Obasanjo said.

In a recent Nairametrics publication, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed reiterated the government’s plan to keep the border closed. He said the Jan 31 deadline might be extended.

The minister listed some of the positive results achieved thus far due to the border closure. On the economic front, he said the partial closure of the border had helped curb the smuggling of rice and other prohibited items resulting in increased production and milling, as reported by the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria.

Also, he explained that revenue accruing to the government had improved as importers now pass through legal procedures to ship in products through the seaports while diversion of imported petroleum products had been curbed.

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