By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari says the closure of Nigerian land borders for a limited period due to massive smuggling is already yielding positive result for the economy.
The president stated this when he received a delegation from the Nigerian Association for Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) at the State House, Abuja, on Friday.
The delegation also comprised of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) and representatives of the Organised Private Sector (OPS).
Buhari said that the closure was necessitated by the lack of adherence to the business ideals by various stakeholders which was detrimental to the country and its people.
”After many years of diplomacy and aggressive regulatory oversight which yielded few results, we decided to close our land borders for a limited time to assess the impact of this measure.
”Within a few short weeks, we are already seeing a decline in the volumes of counterfeit smuggled goods in some of our major markets across the country.
”This validates our action as a Government when we insist that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) must not only promote free trade, but legal trade of quality made in Africa goods and services,” he said.
Buhari says everyone must play by the rules when it comes to trade and business activities that are central to Nigeria’s economic development.
He added that his administration would ensure that the trade and business sector continues to flourish in job creation.
He said: ”Unfortunately, in recent times, many traders simply do not play by the rules.
”Our markets are flooded with smuggled and counterfeit goods. By these selfish practices, we help keep foreign factories working while closing ours.
”From medicines to electronics to food items, our potential to manufacture and create jobs locally is severely hindered by a handful of Nigerians who choose profits over patriotism.
”We have all heard stories about the dangerous and sometimes, fatal impact of fake drugs and foods on our citizens.
”We have also seen how fake electrical items have led to fires in homes and markets thereby destroying lives and properties.
”Most of these substandard and illegal items are smuggled through our land borders.’’
According to the president, his administration will continue to solicit the support of the organised private sector, both in Nigeria and across West Africa, to bring an end to the dumping of substandard items.
He urged the Association to continue its ‘‘positive and patriotic contribution’’ towards achieving a free trade area that employs Africans to produce quality made in Africa products.
”We will soon finalise the National Action Committee on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Your Association is a member of this committee.
”I expect you to continue your positive and patriotic contribution to support us in achieving a free trade area that employs Africans to produce quality made in Africa products,’’ the President said.
In her remarks, Hajiya Saratu Aliyu, President FEWACCI, NACCIMA and OPS, commended the recent decision by the President to constitute a new economic team to steer the Nigerian economy on the path of sustainable growth.
On the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), she said: ”NACCIMA, FEWACCI and indeed the OPS are full of hope that a new era is on the horizon with the calibre of persons on the team which reassures us at the OPS that Government is ready to turn around the story of Nigeria.”
Aliyu also hailed significant accomplishments recorded in all sectors of the economy including but not limited to reduced corruption, foreign exchange stability, bottom of the pyramid programmes, increased ease of doing business, increased capital expenditures, among others.
The president of NACCIMA appealed for the President’s intervention in the provision of property within Abuja for the location of FEWACCI headquarters.
She also briefed the President about the 21-point NACCIMA programme, tagged ‘‘Unleash the Giant’’.
She added that the association intended to engage the Federal Government on 16 of those stated points with the goal of ensuring business growth and socioeconomic advancement through public and private sector collaboration.