The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele has revealed that Nigerian farmers are smiling to the banks following the closure.
Emefiele who spoke to newsmen after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari said the closure of Nigeria’s land borders is yielding positive economic results for the country.
According to him, before the borders are reopened, “there must be concrete engagements with countries that are involved in using their ports and countries as landing ports for bringing in goods that are smuggling into Nigeria.”
Emefiele was reacting to complaints against the border closure from sections of the Nigerian economy and neighbouring countries.
Nigeria’s land borders were closed in August, three months after signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The government said the measure is to curb influx of smuggled goods from neighbouring countries such as Benin, Niger and Cameroon. The goods mostly involved are used cars, used clothes and rice.
Emefiele noted that there has been an “astronomical growth” in the number of rice farmers and local production of the commodity has increased “exponentially” in recent years.
“Between 2015 and now, we have also seen an astronomical rise in the number of companies, corporate and individuals that are setting up mills, integrated mills and even small mills in the various areas.
“And the Central Bank and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have been at the centre of not just only encouraging the production of rice in Nigeria but also funding these farmers by giving them loans to buy seedlings, fertilisers or some of the herbicides that they need for their rice production,” he said.
Emefiele who said the border closure followed complaints by rice processors and poultry farmers, said the government had tried to close the bank accounts of those smuggling or dumping rice on the country.
“Recently, and this is the absolute truth, about two weeks before the border closure, the chairman of the Rice Processors Association, incidentally, he owns Umza Rice in Kano, he called me and said that all the rice millers and processors were carrying in their warehouses nothing less than 25,000 metric tons of milled rice in their warehouses.
“That this rice had been unsold because of the smuggling and dumping of rice through Republic of Benin and other border posts that we have in the country and that he would want us to do something about it.
“Secondly, we also have members of the Poultry Association of Nigeria who also complained that they had thousands of crates of eggs that they could not sell with even some of the processed chickens that they could not sell also arising from problem of smuggling and dumping of poultry products on Nigeria.
“I was told also that after some meetings that were held, in addition to those engagements that we (CBN) also held with the president, the border was closed subsequently,” Emefiele said.