Nigeria borders Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, and Benin in the west. Nigeria is a federal republic comprising 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja, is located.
The Niger Republic and the Republic of Benin share the biggest landmass with Nigeria.
The border control policy failed in several ways. While the primary objective of the closures was to curtail food imports into Nigeria, they blocked other vital imports and exports from and to Benin, Niger, and Cameroon. Communities along the border and small and medium-sized businesses that trade over the boundaries lost their livelihoods overnight and saw their operations hampered by bureaucracy. A total of 15 states in Nigeria share boundries with foreign countries.
Nigerian states the share boundries with foreign countries include:
|States in Nigeria||Foreign Borders||Economic Significance|
|Adamawa||Cameroon||It promotes cross-border businesses between Adamawa petty traders and Cameroonian buyers and vice versa|
Republic of Niger
|If the government could restore peace, farmers in Borno would have been the most beneficiaries considering the fact that it shares the highest land borders with foreign countries. The neighbouring countries would have also benefited|
|Cross River||Cameroon||There has always been cross-border trade between Cross River and Cameroon. Though most of the traders are done through smuggling.|
|Jigawa||Niger Republic||Jigawa traders and their counterparts in Niger Republic are partners in cross border business|
|Katsina||Niger Republic||It fosters foreign trade with traders in Niger|
|Kebbi rice farmers have a good number of shops in Niger and Benin Republics where their goods are sold.|
|Kwara||Republic of Benin||One of its LGAs, Baruten, shares a long border with the Republic of Benin. Chikanda is the border town.|
|Lagos||Republic of Benin||It fosters cross-border trade between merchants in Lagos with buyers in Benin Republic and vice versa|
|Niger state||Republic of Benin||To the west|
|Ogun||Republic of Benin||It has been fostering a century-long trade between Ogun and Benin Republic.|
|Oyo||Republic of Benin|
|Sokoto||Niger Republic and Benin republic||Cross-border trade is fostered|
|Yobe||Niger Republic||As above|
|Zamfafra||Niger Republic||As above|
Nigerian farmers have long argued that they are held back by regional smuggling, but have been unable to meet the huge domestic demand for food since the border closures, leading to price spikes for staple foods. Following the closure, the prices of rice, tomatoes, onions, and other food items began to rise. In August 2019, when the borders were closed, Nigeria’s year-on-year inflation rate was 11.02%. By December 2020 it had risen to 15.75%, the highest rate recorded in three years.
In a country such as Nigeria, where over 50% of household income is spent on food, it was inevitable that the policy would damage the economy as less cash was available for discretionary spending argues Ikemesit Effiong, head of research at SBM Intelligence.
He claims that smugglers merely rerouted their operations to avoid the closure of formal border posts, emboldening the black market at the expense of legal traders.
What is The Effect Of Nigerian Border Re-opening on Economy ?
Muda Yusuf, director-general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry says that the border reopening would provide a boost to the economy alongside the ratification of the AfCFTA: “Many small businesses depend on cross-border trade for a living. Many manufacturers also leverage the Ecowas Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) to boost their business. Many also source their raw materials from countries in the sub-region.”
Immediately after the border closures, Nigerians and trading partners in neighbouring countries began asking the Nigerian government to reopen the borders to prevent further hardship, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic began to bite.
Effiong also believes the reopening of borders will boost the economy but will not go far enough to address the structural economic issues Nigeria is facing, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, restrictive measures and a global oil price slump.
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How Does Bad Infrastructure Affect Nigeria Agricultural Food Price And Inflation ?
Experts say that agricultural productivity gains must be prioritised at the expense of protectionist policies which seek to cut out foreign suppliers. Road and rail access for farmers and growers remains rudimentary across much of Nigeria, increasing the price of domestic produce and the time it takes to bring it to local markets. Until domestic industry is improved, Nigerian consumers will continue to rely on imports from neighbouring countries.
But according to Yusuf, further attempts should be made to reform border policing and overhaul law enforcement institutions, to ensure that smuggling rings are no longer able to dominate regional trading networks.
“There is a need to strengthen the border policing and management mechanisms to avoid a relapse into the conditions that led to the closure in the first place,” he says. “The biggest challenge with border management is an institutional issue. We need to demand accountability from the institutions that have the responsibility for border policing and management.”
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