President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the reopening of land borders because of the very high inventory of unsold finished manufactured goods, especially those with market bases and significant presence in West Africa, which ultimately led to unemployment and poor credit rating.
A presidential source told Nigerian Tribune on Sunday evening that the administration felt it had already made the point by signalling to some of the neighbouring countries that Nigeria would no longer sit by and allow some of the untoward economic onslaught against the country to go unchecked.
After about 15 months of closure, Buhari was said to have realized that ordinary Nigerians and the private sector were taking the brunt of the action and this caused him to rethink the decision.
In addition, the source explained that the Federal Government had already achieved its strategic purpose for the closure which was to signal Nigeria’s dissatisfaction regarding some of the criminalities taking place around the borders.
The most significant recommendations of the Presidential Committee which advised the reopening of the border include the negative impact of the border closure on the private sector. The report noted, among other things, that the continued closure had negatively impacted some private sector businesses in Nigeria.
At the onset of its work, the Committee led by Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed, had ordered a comprehensive and objective impact assessment which revealed that “despite the significant benefits of the partial border closure in helping to curb the activities of smugglers, irregular migrants and other forms of criminality, among other benefits; the Committee’s findings revealed that the policy was potentially detrimental to Nigeria’s overall immediate and long term economic, security, diplomatic and social interests,” a top government source explained o Sunday.
Another particular reason the Zainab Ahmed Committee highlighted in its findings and recommendations was the fact that Nigeria, as a signatory to the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, and member of ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), needed to remove all barriers to ensure free movement of goods across the continent and work towards opening the land borders before the commencement of the treaty on January 1, 2021.