Photograph — The Guardian

The federal government of Nigeria has announced five conditions that must be met for the reopening of its borders to neighbouring countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This is aimed at discouraging imports that make Nigeria a dumping ground for repackaged foreign goods while promoting the anti-corruption strategy of the government.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, announced this during the meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Temporary Partial Closure of Land Borders held at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Abuja, on Monday.

Explaining the conditions Onyeama said: “Nigeria would no longer tolerate repackaging of goods coming into the country.” 

Across the country, there has been an alarming proliferation of fake and expired goods which has harmed the lives of many unsuspecting Nigerians. However, these newly introduced measures will help to curb the spread of harmful products and reduce the amount of waste Nigeria acquires through importation.

The Minister also stated that neighbouring countries must respect the ECOWAS’ ‘rules of origin’ in their export dealings with the country.  In his statement, any goods imported from ECOWAS member states must have 30 percent local input in line with the value addition percentage under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme.

With Nigeria upholding the ECOWAS’ ‘rule of origin’ in its new conditions, there is bound to be a rise in the number of indigenous entrepreneurs across the neighbouring ECOWAS countries. This would also promote the development of local content and create more jobs across borders.

The Minister also added that the conditions, which would be presented to Benin and Niger Republic in two weeks must be met before the Nigerian land borders would be reopened. 

Some key areas that the conditions would address include the fact that Nigeria would not accept imported goods that were repackaged by neighbouring countries; goods imported for the Nigerian market must be escorted directly from the port of member states directly to the nation’s land borders; dismantling of all the warehouses along common borders with Nigeria and presentation of recognized recognized travel documents at entry points by foreigners.

Present at the meeting were Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and the  Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs, Col. Hamid Ali (retd) who stated that the January 31, 2020 date for re-opening of the borders was not sacrosanct. 

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s has initiated an anti-corruption strategy campaign which aims at creating reforms that would facilitate a corruption-free society and an economic boost. These new conditions are progressive steps to the actualization of the vision.

By Ishioma Eni. 

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