Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday appealed to Nigerians to bear with the government over the closure of Nigeria’s borders with neighbouring countries.
Mr Osinbajo made the appeal while speaking at the ongoing town hall meeting which coincides with the National Festival of Arts and Culture, NAFEST in Edo State, Punch newspaper reported.
He said the border closure is in the interest of the country and local producers especially farmers.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the federal government in August shut down its borders with its immediate neighbours, mainly Benin and Niger.
The closure has led to reduced smuggling activities as well as increased revenue for the Nigeria Customs Service. It has, however, led to an increase in the prices of some food items like rice and poultry, most of which were hitherto imported through the neighbouring countries.
Stating the reason for the continuous closure of Nigeria’s border, Mr Osinbajo said: “We want our neighbouring countries to begin to take us very very serious.”
Responding to a question by the vice president of Edo market women, Christiana Omokaro, who bemoaned the high cost of rice and other foodstuffs in the market, Mr Osinbajo said one of the reasons for the border closure was to get the attention of neighbouring countries to take border control more seriously.
“Part of the reasons for shutting the border is the smuggling that has been going on. If we continue to allow the Chinese and others to continue to bring in all those things, we will kill farming completely and most of our people will not be employed,” he said.
He urged people to endure the temporary effects of the border closure to reap attendant benefits.
He also encouraged Nigerians to support local production and farmers by bearing with the border closure and by purchasing local commodities in market.
“If we allow our own people grow these things, our people will prosper. The only way our people can prosper is if we let them use the opportunity that they have such as farming, fishing and others,” he said.
Mr Osinbajo said the government was committed to ending the hardship from the border closure.
“We are going to make sure that commodities are cheaper.
“We must bear in mind that the reason today some commodities are more expensive is because we stopped smuggling. We have to encourage our local farmers so that our local farmers can prosper,” he said.
Despite the closure of the borders, smugglers have still tried to smuggle goods into the country.
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) revealed on Thursday how it intercepted 1,879 bags of foreign rice smuggled into the country through petrol tankers in Niger, Kogi and Kwara states, in October.
The Customs Area Controller in-charge of Kogi and Niger states, Yusuf Abba-Kassim, told journalists in Minna that the situation was worrisome.
He said the Customs would ensure all such illegal actions are stopped.
“We are determined to beat all their concealment patterns with our superior intelligence network,” he said.