Abba Dukawa, Kano.
Global Hunger Index 2020 report has ranked Nigeria 98th out of the 107 countries with a score of 29.2.
The same organization ranked the country 93rd out of 117 with a score of 27.9 in 2019. Relatively the country has not sufficiently improved its capacity for self food reliant or it either has level of hunger or food scarcity that is serious.
For almost two years now, the Buhari administration has shut Nigeria’s land borders. Nothing has changed except that the policy has caused serious hardship and impoverished more than 2/3 of the 306 million peoples who are either without food or the price of foodstuffs is beyond their affordability and already paying a for the border closure disproportionately.
Nigeria consumes 6.7 million tons of rice annually. It produces 3.5 million tons locally. The deficit of 3.2 million tons. Without recoursing the impact on teaming populace’s wellbeing The closure has provoked increment of prices of some commodities between 15% and 100%. For instance, rice, which is the most staple food in the country is increasingly unaffordable, a 50kg bag of imported rice which used to sell for about N14,000 has increased to about N25,000, while the price of local rice has moved from about N11,000 to about N20,000. Prices of vegetable oil, frozen chicken, among others, have all gone up. Since the closure, local rice milling manufacturers have found an opportunity to exploit the market disproportionately.
Within the year FGN took roughly 40,000 tonnes of millet and sorghum from the regional economic bloc’s (ECOWAS) strategic stocks last month and released 30,000 tonnes of its own maize. The federal government itself knows the negative impact of the border closure. The decision which is meant to make the country self- sufficient is far away from being achieved.
What Nigerian gain from closing its borders.
Last month, the government stealthily gave the Dangote Group and other companies special permission to import maize. With this waiver granted to these companies, it is obvious that the government of Nigeria have mistaken border closure for an efficient self food reliant and the objectives not being achieved except causing hardship to masses.
Right from day one when Buhari’s administration made its decisions known, economy watchers dismissed the closure. The reason for the border closure, so to speak, is to halt massive smuggling of rice and arms importation into the country, among others.
But it seems the policy and the enforcer have woefully fallen and the government had no more reason to continue punish innocent Nigerians with land border closure.
This policy of shutting land border has failed to stop the flow of arms into the country. Insurgents, militants, bandits, kidnappers, name them, carry arms freely and kill at will. Smuggling of rice into Nigeria has continued to thrive.
In general, border closure is counter-productive; it is like chasing shadows rather than the cause.
The war against smuggled rice should have been fought in mechanized farms and modern rice mills that can process the farm produce to international standard.
For Sabo Nanono’s contradictory view against President Buhari’s intent to reopen the border is unfortunate an minister, and contradicting president decision can best be described as the hangover of a power drunk, to insist on the closure even when Nigerians, the electorates, are suffering. Maybe the Minister of Rural and Agricultural have unterior motives toward the masses that brought the administration in power, or enjoys seeing innocent Nigerians being punishing by the border shut.
What Nanono is benefiting from the border closure? Does he want to add another colossal damage to the administration already tattered image?
The closure of the borders clearly violated the spirit and the letter of the ECOWAS and AfCFTA which mandates the free movement of goods and people.
The bloc is dominated by Nigeria by dint of the size of its economy and its regional influence. Minister and his cohorts or rather advisers should not forget that African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), will unarguably serve as an opportunity for Nigerian business.
Dukawa write in from Kano State.