Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has stressed that the nation’s borders would remain closed until her neigbours meet the conditions for reopening.
This is coming despite the charge by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that authorities in Nigeria, Benin Republic, Niger and other neighbouring countries urgently resolve the lingering issues that precipitated the recent closure of the nation’s land borders to mitigate the negative consequences of the policy on their various economies.
Emefiele was fielding questions from State House Correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said: “We are not saying that the borders should be closed in perpetuity, but that before the borders 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, it is understandable. But the fact that those products are landed in their countries and then transshipped or smuggled into Nigeria is something that I am sure you all agree as Nigerians we should not allow to happen because it undermines our economic policy, it undermines our own desire to make sure that industries are alive and jobs are created in Nigeria.”
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, had at the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC said the closure of the country’s borders was to force the neigbours to commit to honouring bilateral agreements which they have failed to do over time.
The CBN governor said since the closure of the borders, rice and poultry farmers who before now could not sell their products due to smuggling and dumping are now smiling to the bank.
Emefiele added: “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.”