Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has said that by
further extending the border closure till 2020, the Federal Government
was toying with citizens’ welfare and prosperity of businesses.
The authorities of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), weekend,
announced the extension of the ongoing closure of the country’s land
borders till January 31, 2020.
The border closure came into force on August 20, 2019,
Speaking on this development in Lagos, on Monday, Timothy Olawale, the
Director-General of NECA argued that notwithstanding the trade
imbalance between Nigeria its neighbouring countries, the citizen s’
wellbeing should be prioritized, BusinessDay reports.
He said: “While we acknowledge the trade imbalance between Nigeria and
its neighbours and the security challenges facing the country
currently, the citizen’s welfare and business prosperity should not be
sacrificed for the inefficiency of our border policing”.
According to Olawale, the coordination and management of fiscal
policies should be geared towards enterprise competitiveness, job
creation and alleviating poverty as against impoverishing the people
by such policies of the government.
The DG further noted, “Despite the many merits that come with the
border-closure, we are concerned that the policy comes without any
palliative for legitimate local businesses, which negate the attempts
at alleviating poverty and reduce unemployment. The continuous closure
also possesses the capacity to render many Nigerians jobless and
The NECA boss averred that the policy was more consistent with income
generation and not in agreement with the harsh effect it has on
households, businesses and investors’ confidence in general.
“Since the advent of this policy, prices of goods, especially food
items had increased tremendously, further making the average Nigerian
vulnerable as 70 percent of poor households budget is spent on food.”
Olawale reiterated the need to address the fundamental challenge of
smuggling and insecurity, stressing that the government must take a
broader look at the fundamentals of its assumptions that led to the
decision to close the borders.
He cautioned against stifling legitimate businesses because of the
inefficiency of the Customs Service to keep the borders safe.
He stated: “If the borders are safe and the government enforces the
bilateral and multilateral agreements it had signed with other
countries, there won’t be the need to close the borders. Efforts
should be stepped up to equip the Customs to live up to its
responsibilities of protecting the borders and nip smuggling in the
The DG further stated that at a time when unemployment rate is 23.1
percent, underemployment at 16.6 percent and expected to reach 33.5
percent by 2020, and inflation rate on upward trend, government’s
fiscal and monetary policies should focus on sustainable enterprise,
job creation and rapid economic development premised on wide-range
consultation with critical stakeholders.