What are the long term benefits of closing Nigeria borders? Godwin Etakibuebu
By Godwin Etakibuebu
To answer this question most positively, one has to delve into the realm of speculation and conjecture. The reason is very simple. Up till this moment; a few months into closing most of the country’s land borders, there is no straight clear statement for reason from the Nigerian Government on why the action was taken.
Yes, we hear different statements from different Federal Government officials, explaining the reasons for the action. Sometimes, we even hear from those not in governments, but obviously sympathizers of government; more of streamlined selfish-based interest than patriotism, commenting on the benefits of the border closures.
Yet this shouldn’t have been the case if government had come out straight, from onset before the commencement of action, to tell the citizenry reason or reasons for the Policy in closing of land borders. If the matter had been made clearly known to all, most citizens would have been prepared to “press forward with government” in bringing the prosecution of the project to fruition.
That is if the type of government we have on ground in Nigeria today is the one that articulates and discusses its intending policies with the Nigerian people and gives rooms for democratic feedback before moving into the stage of implementation. We are not yet that lucky for now. Maybe such era will come for us in the future. For now, ipso facto, let us do with what we have.
So, in trying to enumerate the likely benefits of land borders’ closure, in the Nigerian scenario, we have to look into causes of why countries’ borders sometimes need to come under closure. And reasons vary from one country to another. It is after this comparative analysis that we can now zero down to the likely reason in the Nigerian case.
Like it is said in the above paragraph, different reasons make different countries to close their land borders, the same way some closed land borders are opened.
Donald Trump; while campaigning for the America presidency, which he won and he is now the incumbent president, saw the need of building tough and strong high wall to demarcate America from Mexico. And his reason for coming to this conclusion was to be able to put to serious check the illegal massive Mexican immigrant’s movement into America, mostly around the porous borderlines across the State of Texas, and also, to stop hard drug movement from Mexico into America.
In the late 60s, the Gold Coast [now Ghana] Authority saw the need of sending all Nigerians in that country away, thereby effectively closing its border against Nigerians. And a few years later, during the administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari; of blessed memory, Nigeria retaliated [so it looked like] by embarking on operation Ghana-Must-Go.
In August 8, 2003, President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered the closure of Nigeria/Benin land border because an international criminal of Benin descent; Ahmadu Tidjani, crossed over to Nigeria to carry out a dastardly exploit which claimed lives of two youths – children of Dr Sodipo, a personal friend of Iyabo Obasanjo. The land border was only reopened after the Benin Republic Authority arrested the said criminal and handed him over to the Nigerian Government.
China closed its borders – Land and Sea, to the World Community in the 15th century for strategic reasons, and repeated the same feat, though in a very slightly mild manner, when the country was generally inaccessible to foreigners from the 1950s to mid-1970s. One of the greatest advantages of China’s severance from the world then, amongst many others, is the fact of its economic and financial might today, in addition to the fact that in spite of the country having the largest population in the world – a population of over One billion people, it does not import food but instead, exports.
Many other counties have different reasons of closing their borders, like l earlier mentioned. Some close their borders because of war. Some because of epidemics, some to guide against human trafficking, some to avoid influx of religious fanatic into their domains, some to protect home industries, some to secure their economic growth, some to ban foreign imports so as to concentrate on development of local products, while others do so to secure the sanctity of their electoral processes; like when Nigeria closed its border for 24 hours during elections.
The question therefore is: why did Nigeria close its land border? We can only be guessing the answer since nobody from government told us why, and none is ready to speak. It might be for the reason of stopping Nigerians from eating poison, since that is what anybody who eats “expired rice”, as the reason adduced by the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Services; retired Colonel Ali, for the closure, stands to acquire.
It might also be to stop the influx of foreign rice and save our country from economic demise in the hands of rice importers. It could also be to “raise revenue” for the government [not the people because the big chunk of Nigeria’s money ends up in the pocket of few individuals – I mean those that know how to “connect round those merciless predators around one particular Villa somewhere in the central of Nigeria”.
It could go beyond these to include government’s genuine effort in protecting home industries, and if this is the case, the ban is expected to spreading to many other commodities. Yes, all commodities, and these need to include garments; the type awarded to a Turkish company recently, in government genuine endeavours to “source” Military and Para-Military uniforms “locally”.
Since nobody is telling us the factual and cogent reason for closing the Nigerian land border except voices of discords which we now hear from different quarters, we shall proceed to evaluate the likely benefits of border closure in Nigeria, nevertheless. In doing that however, we shall be looking at different types of closures – ad hoc, interim, military, war, human trafficking, human tragedies, epidemics, protection of home industries, revenue pursuance, economic sabotage, war against some individual elements, battling for regional supremacy and a few others.
We may have to wait for the next narration of this evaluation to catch up with the totality of the discovery in the proceeding chapter. But before then, permit me to emphatically state it here, and now, that yours sincerely shall stand for total closure of all borders – Land, Sea and Air – against most of the consumables we import, if it will take us to the land of self-reliance.
Why would l say so? I am tired of a country importing everything, including toothpick, sand and kolanut [Gworo/Obi/Orji/Evwe]. Or don’t you know that Nigeria imports Kolanuts? We import sand also. Abomination!
It is necessary that l tender my sincere apology, for going off this page in the past three weeks, without notification, to the reading audience. It was never intended but somehow “the body just refused to go to work”. And maybe, the load work, which the collaboration between thenewsguru.com [TNG] and MegaLectrics, which l must deliver every Monday at Lagos Talk 91.3 FM, brings on this “body”, might have “helped the rebellious breakdown”. The good news however is that l am back to serve you better and sweeter.
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
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