The recent border closure policy by the Federal Government aimed at encouraging local production has been described as having a ‘dangerous effect’ on Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
This was the outburst of the Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN), during a press conference held recently in Lagos.
According to the group’s National President, Prince Iche, SMEs, especially manufacturers, cry every day as they keep counting their losses triggered by the border closure.
“We want to emphasise the dangerous effects of the border closure on local manufacturers and businesses with larger customer base outside Nigeria. As a result of this policy, we are gradually going out of business because we cannot export our products through the land borders. Most of our buyers are from Benin, Togo, and Ghana. And I can tell you that in the last three weeks, about 98 of our local SMEs have closed shop and relocated to other countries. This doesn’t augur well for us because it compounds our country’s unemployment situation,” Iche said.
On the Federal Government’s call that local businesses should explore the alternative of exporting via the sea and airports, Iche said that that suggestion cannot be embraced by micro-business operators because they cannot afford the cost of using the sea and airports.
“Multinational companies can afford to do that, but most of us in the SME sector don’t have the capacity to use the air and seaports to export our goods. We have not grown to that level, and we don’t have the financial muscle to export via those routes. At our level here in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), most of our transactions are done via the land borders,” he said.
Iche further lampooned the government for opting to close the border when it could have explored other means. “We have securities at the ports, don’t we? So why don’t our government make them do their work and stop smuggling activities?
Why are we made to suffer for their inefficiency at securing our borders?”