FG to reopen land borders soon, says Finance Minister

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The Federal Government on Tuesday hinted that Nigerian borders which were closed since August  last year would soon be opened.

Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, disclosed this during a roundtable discussion  at the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES #26).

She reiterated the position also on Wednesdayin an interview with State House Correspondents shortly after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

She said that a committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari had  done an assessment of the gains of the closure and had recommended to the president to reopen the borders.

She said that she was optimistic that the president would act on the recommendation soon.

Although,  the minister did not give the date of the  reopening,  she, however,  gave an assurance that the borders would be reopened soon.

According to her, “We have made an assessment. The president set up a committee and we have made an assessment and all the members of the committee agreed and are recommending to the president that it is time to reopen the borders.

“The objective has been met in the sense that we have been able, over these couple of months,  to work  together with our partners in a tripartite committee and do a joint border patrol together and reinforce the sanctity of the commitments that we made to each other.

“So, each side has learnt its lessons. Nigeria has been affecting our partners in terms of businesses that we have in Nigeria as well. So, we will be expecting that the borders will be reopened very soon. The date will be decided by Mr President” she said.

Nigeria is the largest economy and the most prosperous of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

But it suddenly closed its land  borders on August 2019 because of the proliferation of illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural products into Nigeria from neighbouring West African countries.

The closure of the borders was also to encourage rice farmers and make Nigeria self-sufficient in food  production, which made Nigeria to produce over 3.7 million tonnes of rice annually.

At the presidential villa on Wednesday, Ahmed restated that the presidential committee set up on the matter had completed its job and had recommended reopening of the borders.

She said the committee would soon submit its report consequent upon which a formal pronouncement would be made by President Buhari.

The minister did not, however, disclose when the report will be submitted and how soon the land borders will be reopened.

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