From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives, yesterday, rejected a motion to reopen all closed borders in the country.
The motion titled “Urgent need to re-open Idiroko border and other land borders in Nigeria” was sponsored by Kolawole Lawal and 10 others.
Lawal, in his lead debate, said the closure of the borders is making life difficult for residents of border communities. He noted that “the Seme, Illela, Maigatari and Mfun land Borders have since been reopened leaving other land Borders still closed.”
The lawmaker expressed concerns that the government’s decision to ban illegal importation of food items under the guise of border closure has not increased farmers’ food production as the country is experiencing food inflation.
Lawal argued that reopening the borders would boost economic activities and revenue generation for government.
According to him, what the government needs to do is to invest in border security and surveillance and strengthen human capacity at the borders , so as to curb smuggling and other crimes around the border communities. Other lawmakers said the closure of land borders by the government has been counterproductive.
One of the sponsors, Sada Soli, said with the continued closure, the poverty level at the border communities has become alarming.
“One of the reason for closing the borders is arms smuggling but has anything changed? The closure has encouraged extortion, corruption, extra-judicial killings. Anyone in doubt should visit there under cover to prove this.”
However, Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, Beni Lar, claimed the closure has given a boost to the agricultural sector.
He argued that the borders should remain closed noting that the closure has aided the growth of the local economy.
When the motion was put to voice vote by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, majority voted against it.