The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has listed the achievements gained so far from the closure of Nigerian borders to neighbouring countries.
The Minister of Information, Cuture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, listed the gains when he addressed the press in Abuja on Monday.
He described the decision to shut the borders as undoubtedly one of the boldest decisions ever taken by any
administration in Nigeria.
He maintained that the decision was embarked upon on as part of measures to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders.
The minister added, “Many have called it border closure, but it is not. Recall, gentlemen, that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) as well as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security and intelligence agencies, commenced a joint border security exercise, code-named ‘EXERCISE SWIFT RESPONSE’, in 4 geopolitical zones of the country,
namely; South-South, South West, North Central and North West on the 20th August 2019.
“The exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and is aimed at better securing
our borders in order to strengthen our economy and address other trans-border security concerns.
“Over time, Nigeria has been confronted with numerous trans-border economic and security challenges. These challenges range from banditry, kidnapping, smuggling, illegal migration and proliferation of light weapons, among others. Meanwhile, the preference for foreign goods, especially food items like rice, has continuously impoverished our farmers and adversely affected domestic government policies
supporting the agricultural sector to enhance food security.
“It is, however, disturbing that some neighbouring countries circumvent the ECOWAS protocol on transit. For clarity, the ECOWAS protocol on transit demands that when a transit container berths at a seaport, the receiving country is mandated to escort same without tampering with the seal to
the border of the destination country.
Unfortunately, experience has shown that our neighbours do not comply with this protocol. Rather, they break the seals of containers at their ports and trans-load goods destined for Nigeria.
“The effect of the border drill has been phenomenal and positive. I will list some of them are:
“Today, Nigeria is closer to attaining self sufficiency in rice production than at any time in the country’s history, thanks to the border drill that has drastically reduced rice smuggling into the country and catalyzed rice production by our farmers across the country. We recently visited some of Nigeria’s 34 integrated rice mills as well as rice clusters in Kano. The rice mills are either operating at full capacity or have doubled their production. Before the drill, there were 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, but now six million people, mostly youths, are venturing into rice production.
“Before the drill, farmers were cultivating rice twice a year, now that has increased to three times a year, and some rice farmers are now venturing beyond rice cultivation to milling, packaging and marketing.
“Overall, the integrated mills currently produce 150,000 bags of rice daily and about 35 million bags per annum
“The border drill has curbed the smuggling of rice and other prohibited items into the country, led to significant seizures with estimated monetary value of over 3,500,000 billion Naira, reduced
local fuel consumption by 30% and reduced the importation of arms,
munitions and drugs.
“Because of the drill, terrorists and other criminals are finding it hard to procure arms and ammunition while criminal elements no longer make their way into the country through the land borders.
“This has resulted in reduced cases of insecurity, whether it’s kidnapping,
banditry, armed robbery or other violent crimes.
“Smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria has been drastically curtailed and has led to a 30% reduction in domestic fuel consumption.
“Before the drill, the Nigeria Customs Service was recording about N4.5 billion daily. Since the drill started, the figure has increased to between N5 billion and N8 billion daily.
“There has been a drastic reduction in illegal migration.
“The exercise has provided a unique platform for the various participating agencies to operate jointly, thereby strengthening inter-agency collaboration and reducing animosity. It is also necessary to place on record that this is the first exercise in recent times, that military, paramilitary as well as intelligence and security agencies have come together to conduct such an exercise which is akin to a National Security exercise.”