A senior lecturer in Department of Economics, University of Port-Harcourt, Dr Peter Medee, has said illegal activities have flourished in Nigeria because of the country's porous borders with its neighbours.
Dr Medee who stated this in a telephone interview on Monday on Nigeria's land border closure against neighbouring countries said that underground economy takes place in Nigeria saying that activities having to do with smuggling, trafficking, kidnapping, proliferation of arms and other vices found their way into the country because of its porous borders.
He said the land border closure by the federal government is a good decision as it will enable the government exercise control over what comes in through its borders.
Nigeria recently closed its land borders with Benin Republic and other neighbouring countries to stop movement of goods through the country's borders.
Dr Medee said: “Apart from a lot of activities that happen in the underground economy, the situation we have found ourselves in the Nigerian economy had been a situation where we consume what we don't produce and…what we produce we don't consume. So, I think the border closure is a very, very good effort of government. If you look at it in terms of your own personal compound and it is that porous, you need to fence it and when you fence your compound and put gate, you'll be able to monitor what comes in and what comes out. So that's exactly the situation. The Nigerian economy had been very, very porous such that a lot of activities especially illegal activities of the underground economy have flourished in this country because of porous border”.
He alleged that those complaining about the land border closure were mostly those who engaged in illegal activities saying that their activities had “crumbled… and polarized” Nigeria's economy.
He said although there's land border closure, those who engage in legitimate business could still go on with their businesses by using the country's airports and seaports.
He said that the land border closure would help local manufacturers to produce goods that will be consumed in Nigeria saying “with the closure now, we now have control to protect local industries”.
He particularly said that rice industry would be protected to produce rice and have existing market for it against the proliferation of foreign rice.
The senior lecturer of economics however said for the country to have long-term benefit from the border closure, it needs enough time to put in place complementary policies before it should reopen the border.
The senior lecturer of economics said: “I think the time (to reopen border) is even short because there are a lot of things government need to put in place before they (should) even open the border. They need to improve the security of the country. They need to provide a lot of infrastructure, power and other things that will ensure that we consolidate on the gains we are getting from this closure”.
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Custom Service, Hameed Ali, while confirming the land border closure said that all goods within the period of the closure were banned from being exported or imported through the country's land borders, saying that the move was to ensure that Nigeria had control over what comes in through the country's borders.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting with the President of Benin Republic on the sidelines of the 7th Tokyo International Conference for African Development in Yokohama in Japan had said that: “Now that our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms and the country has saved huge sums of money which otherwise would have been expended on importing rice using our scare foreign reserves, we cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue”.
The federal government however said it would reopen the borders at the end of January, 2020.