By Zika Bobby
A businessman, Eddy Akwaeze, has said the suggestion by Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), to close the Seme Border, in order to check smuggling activities, could cost Nigeria N10 billion investments and over 25,000 direct and ancillary job losses.
Akwaeze, who described the idea as illogical and capable of worsening the nation’s economic challenges, urged the NCS boss to seek advise on more proactive and modern management technique that will not inhibit trade, even as it smuggling.
Akwaeze, who was formerly an official of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), said urged Ali to protect all the nation’s boarders rather than focus all his energies on borders in the South West region of the country. He also alleged that high-level smuggling of trade, goods and prohibited items into the country could be going on through, what he referred to as “poorly-manned land borders in the North.
“Closing Seme will not solve any problem. It will rather create chains of problems such as increase in smuggling, robberies and other criminal activities. There is nowhere in the world where smuggling is completely eradicated. It is an anti-economic vice and trade malpractise that the NCS and other sister agencies of government must keep fighting. Rather than advocate border closure, Col. Ali should advise government to ensure a more competitive port system while reviewing import and export policies, particularly in the areas of tariff.
“Seme Border plays host to a beehive of legitimate businesses with higher revenue for government than almost all the northern borders put together. It promotes regional integration under the aegis of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and I dare to say that if there are borders to be closed, it should be the ones in the north.”
It would be recalled that the Customs boss had last month, in Lagos, noted that the boarder was closed in 2013, when there were high spate of cross-border crimes and canvassed for total closure of Seme Border, at a forum put together by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).