Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
In spite of the growing discontent over the closure of the nation’s borders, the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, have said the closure of the borders was part of measures to preserve Nigeria’s foreign policy.
Sanusi and Fayemi spoke during the launch of the Foreign Policy Journal by the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) in Abuja.
The duo of Sanusi and Fayemi added that the closure of the borders was rather for national interest, most importantly as Nigeria’s neighbours were violating the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol, leading the country to become a dumping ground.
Sanusi particularly said the closure of the nation’s land borders was not in contradiction to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), even as he said that countries should learn to live by the rules.
“Last time, I was critical of Nigeria’s refusal to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and recently, I have been in support of the decision to close the border which now looks like two contradictory positions. But they are not.
“The understanding that you have a free trade zone must come with the understanding that everybody must play by the rules. If the rules don’t work, the free trade does not work.
“Nigeria is 70 percent of the population of West Africa and if we have an industrial policy that is aimed at protecting the productive sector of Nigeria; it is a fair competition.
“We cannot allow our neighbours to open their doors to this unfair competition and through the back door undermine our industry.
“It is not about smuggling petroleum or rice, but in 2017, the Republic of Benin was the world’s second largest importer of Tramadol from the United States. All those drugs came into northern Nigeria and now, we hear that there are also arms coming in.
“So, closing the borders, I hope is not a permanent solution, but what I hope is that it is an opportunity to sit down and agree on rules and then open up the borders.
“It is extremely important to have a foreign policy that is ready to take very firm decision to protect the national interest against dangerous trade activities,” Sanusi said.
On his part, Fayemi said the move by the Federal Government to close the borders was a foreign policy measure that promotes the interest of the people, stating that free trade had its rules which countries must adhere to.
“You cannot say because we have signed up to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, you then violate the principle of free trade by dumping in our country.
“Those that think of the actions of Mr President as wrong are definitely misguided,” Fayemi said.