The Value News

Border Closure: Buhari Set To Fulfill His Promises Of Implementing The ECOWAS Tripartite Committee Report

 By Stephen Ubanna

When the Authority of Heads of States and Government, of the Economic Community Of WEST African States, ECOWAS, set up the President Marc Roch Christian  Kabore, , of Burkina Faso, Tripartite Committee, which had members drawn from Nigeria, Benin Republic and Niger,’’to study   and make a full report  on the country’s border closure whch  had affected the  economic activities in the entire West African Sub-region particular, Benin and Niger, President Muhammadu Buhari, had promised to implement  the Committee’s full report that may be approved by the Commission. Highest decision making body.

The Value News was informed that Mohammadou Issofou, President Of Niger, and outgoing Chairman, ECOWAS, Authority of Heads of States and Government, had repeatedly  drummed  to  the ear s of the Nigeian President, both officially and   during a private visit to Daura, his hometown, to see him   while Observing a Public Holiday,  to ensure that he keeps to the promise to reopen the  closed borders once the Kabore Committee report is approved   .

 The border closure  had  disrupted the free  movement of goods and services between  the member countries  of the economic bloc. Nnana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, who  had  been  speculated  in several circles  to be  a the  next Chairman, of the Commission’s Authority of Heads of State and Government,  who had repeatedly appealed to the Nigerian President including visiting the country to plead with him to reopen the closed borders  with the neighbouring  countries of Benin and Niger is expected to continue from   where Issofou, had stopped.

The Katsina state born Nigerian President  may have  soft pedaled on the border closure  as he had assured Bashir Mamman Ifo, the President  of the ECOWAS Bank For Investment  and Development, EBID, and his successor, the Ghanaian born George Nana Donkor, when he had audience with them at the Presidential Villa, last March, that he will ’’implement the Commission Tripartite Committee report on the border closure  without hesitation’’.

He had told the  duo that though the border closure   had given the country a number of insights that ‘’we do not need to import Foreign rice from Thailand or any other foreign country, stating,  that the country had achieved food security as it had saved millions of the United States dollar , which could have been spent on such imports.  

He may have shocked Ifo, the EBID, President and Donkor, his successor,  when he said that the border closure had  curtailed the importation  of drugs and the proliferation of small and light arms  into the country and thus, reduced BokoHaram activities in the north east states of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe. He noted that banditry in the north west  states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto, and Katsina, his home state ad reduce also but that was how far he could go.

Headed ECOWAS Committee On Nigeria’s Border Closure

Investigations by The Magazine  shows that since information leaked  out that the Kabore’s Committee had submitted its report to the Commission which would be considered at its next meeting to usher in Akufo-Addo, the Ghanaian President to replace Issofou, the President of Niger, as Chairman , of the Commission, there had been pressure  from both within, and outside the country, particular, the local Companies that were  registered  for the Economic Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ETLS. There  are indications that the pressure was coming more  from the   Dangote Industries, which has Aliko Dangote as its president , and Abdul Samad Rabiu, Chairman, BUA Group, as most of their ETLS manufactured  goods, particular, Cement and other Cnsumables, worth billions of dollar  had expired in their warehouse over the last two years as it could not get to their destinations due to the bordr closure..

 The duo, who are Kano state born  multi-billionaires, may have won the  heart of the Daura  born politician with the persistent pressure on him to reconsider his decision to still close the  borders across the country.

  Only recently there were reports  making the rounds that Dangote and BUA truck laden ETLS goods were allowed to cross the border to enter Benin Republic and Niger on orders on the orders of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS,, to and Babagana, Munguno, a  retired Major General  and National Security Adviser, NSA.

Seme Border: A Shadow Of Itself

 The duo had been given the mandate by the Nigerian President to oversee the Border Drills, which had become a lame dock in the recent time ,to Compliment the efforts of the Federal Operations Units, FOUs, and The Comptroller General of Customs, CGC Strike Force including the land Border Area Commands spread across the country in the anti-smuggling drive to ensure that nothing enters or leaves the country.

 The Buhari led  All Progressive  Congress, APC,  government may have been forced to have a rethink on the border closure  because of the country’s sluggish economic growth,  accelerating inflation and weak revenue collection by the revenue generating agencies, particular, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation , NNPC and the Ali, ledNCS, as well as the Federal Island Revenue Services, FIRS.

Rabiu: Chairman, BUA gROUP And A Key Player In ecowas ETLS market

 A recent report of the National Bureau of  Statistics, on the economy speaks volume. The Bureau may have raised an alarm when it said that the  annual  inflation  rate  of the country hit 11.61 % in October , from the peak 11.24 % in September, marking the highest  rate of inflation in the country in the last 17 months. The agency had cited the  accelerating  increase  in food prices which were said to have been  caused by the imposition of the trade restrictions with  Benin Republic and Niger.  

It is on record that Nigeria  closed its borders with Benin, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon, in August 2018 to fight against  smuggling of  Foreign par boiled rice into the country in order to protect local rice  farmers, and ensure the country’s self-sufficiency in food production. It was aimed at curtailing the smuggling of small and light arms into the country..

Many believe that the  Nigerian  President  decision  to  take a second look on the border closure across the country by agreeing to implement the Kabore’s Committee report ,  may have been informed with the country signing of the AFRICAN Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA, at the African Union meeting In Niger, last year, as the 53 member while Benin Republic signed as the 54 member of the Continental Economic bloc. The Nigeria government which may not want to be a KILler of the African dream  which  first step requires members   to cut the tariff  for goods within the economic bloc by 2021.

Financial analysts are optimistic that the country has a lot to  benefit  from the  increasing access to its goods and services to the wider  African market.  The country, according to informed sources in the ministry of Trade, Investment and Industry, has  over 2, 400 Companies  under the ECOWAS ETLS. The source disclosed that the country alone, accounts for  60-70% of the 6,900 p products registered  under the scheme.

Dangote: President, Dangote Industries,, Set To Sell His Goods In A Wider African Market

 Dangote Industries and the   BUA Group which produce a wide range of products and other local Companies including the Breweries which had gained foothold on The West African Sub-region with their ETLS goods are expected to make an appreciable impact on the wider African wider market, by pushing their products into the Continental  economic bloc market.

 The AfCFTA, according to a  ministry  of Foreign Affairs source,  aims to unite  the 1.3 billion  in the African Continent  by  creating a $3.4 billion  economic bloc that could usher in a new era of development  within the member countries.

Although, Nigeria was one of the  last  countries to  commit to the AfCTA deal, THE Nigerian President wants the member nations to band together to attract  investment, grow local manufacturing  and combat smuggling activities, across the African countries porous borders.

Stephen Ubanna

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September 2021

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