The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on Monday stressed that the nation’s borders will remain closed until neighboring countries meet the conditions for reopening.
Emefiele further stressed that before the borders will be reopened, there must be concrete engagements with countries that are involved in using their ports and countries as landing ports for bringing in goods meant for local consumption, as those product are often smuggled into Nigeria.
Persecond reports that Nigeria had closed its land borders since August, to curb smuggling of goods into the country.
The CBN governor, who disclosed this while speaking to State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said rice and poultry farmers have particularly benefited immensely from the border closure, as they have been able to sell off accumulated produce, hitherto hindered by smuggling.
According to the CBN governor, the situation “undermines our economic policy, it undermines our own desire to make sure that industries are alive and jobs are created in Nigeria.”
Emefiele said: “You will all recall that in November 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari, the Central Bank and some state governors went to Kebbi State to launch the Wet Season Rice Farming. Since then, we have seen an astronomical growth in the number of farmers who have been going into rice farming and our paddy production has gone up also quite exponentially.
“Between 2015 and also now, we have also seen an astronomical rise in the number of companies, corporate and individuals that are setting up mills, integrated mills and even small mills in the various areas. And the Central Bank and the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development have been at the centre of not just only encouraging the production of rice in Nigeria but also funding these farmers by giving them loans to buy seedlings, fertilizers or some of the herbicides that they need for their rice production.
“Recall that we have been embarking on a programme where if you are involved in the business of smuggling or dumping of rice in the country, we will close your account in the banking industry. Although that is becoming very effectively.
“Recently, the chairman of the Rice Processors Association, who also owns Umza Rice in Kano, called me and said that all the rice millers and processors are having in their warehouses nothing less than 25,000 metric tons of milled rice. That this rice have been unsold because of the smuggling and dumping through Republic of Benin and other border posts that we have in the country, and that he would want us to do something about it.
“Secondly, we also have members of the Poultry Association of Nigeria who also complained that they have thousands of crates of eggs that they could not sell, together with some of the processed chickens also arising from problem of smuggling and dumping of poultry products into Nigeria.
“A week after the borders were closed, the same rice millers association called to tell us that all the rice that they had in their warehouses have all been sold. Indeed, a lot of people have been depositing money in their accounts and they have even been telling them ‘please hold on don’t even pay money yet until we finished processing your rice.’
“The Poultry Associations have also come to say that they have sold all their eggs, they have sold all their processed chickens and that demand is rising.
“So when you asked, what is the benefit of the border closure on the economy of Nigeria? I just used two products – poultry and rice. The benefit is that it has helped to create jobs for our people, it has helped to bring our integrated rice milling that we have in the country back into business again and they are making money. Our rural communities are bubbling because there is activities, because rice farmers are able to sell their paddy. The poultry business is also doing well, and also maize farmers who produce maize from which feeds are produced are also doing business. These are the benefits.”