Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri
The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Oru in Imo State, Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Chukwunenye has called on the federal government to holistically review the closure of the land borders as it is negatively affecting the nation’s economy.
The bishop also said that the open borders had never been responsible for the nation’s economic woes.
The federal government had in August last year closed land borders to check the smuggling of goods and arms into the country.
The land borders have also remained shut despite preparations for the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Speaking with The Nation, Bishop Chukwunenye admitted that the advantages of the land borders could be seen in the stability of prices of petroleum products for some time especially during the Christmas and New Year period, adding that prices of agricultural commodities including all grains and rice in particular also increased reasonably, thereby making farming in the country attractive and profitable as well as generating employment.
The prelate however stated that Nigeria’s socio-economic problems were more than what a mere border closure could address.
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According to him, “I think that open market, rather than open borders, is responsible for Nigeria’s economic woes. A country, which opens its market to all sorts of imported goods, is bound to have serious issues with employment and poverty.
“The competition with foreign-manufactured products has forced the closing down of many Nigerian brands and companies such as Michelin and Dunlop tyres; Berec and Exide batteries; Bata, Lennards and Clark shoes; the assembly plants of Volkswagen, Leyland, Peugeot automobile and Steyr tractors; textile Mills in Lagos, Kano and Kaduna amongst other local industries went down with hundreds and thousands of their workers.
“Countries which have developed their economies rather opened their borders but closed their markets to all imported manufactured goods for several years to enable the local industries to grow and mature. India, China and other Asian Tiger countries adopted this policy and they are better for it and I recommend that Nigeria should adopt the option,” he said.