Nigeria: Despite Recession, Nigeria Drags Feet On Reopening of Borders

Lagos, Nigeria
25 November 2020

Many experts have argued that the government will have to spend its way out, and empower citizens to spend more.

The Nigerian government appears not in a hurry to reopen its borders despite advice from experts that lifting the blockade will help check its worst recession in decades, and ease the hardship faced by its citizens.

Nigeria fell into its second recession in five years in the third quarter of 2020, GDP data released by the National Bureau of Statistics weekend showed.

Many experts have argued that the government will have to spend its way out, and empower citizens to spend more.

But a border closure that has been in place since August 2019 has seen prices skyrocket, with inflation at a 30-month high, posing a challenge for increased spending.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said President Muhammadu Buhari will soon receive a report of a presidential committee to advise on the reopening of the nation's borders.

Mrs Ahmed was spoke in Abuja at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting.

She said although the committee set up by Mr Buhari had done an assessment of the gains of the closure and had recommended to the president to reopen the borders, the report had not been submitted.

The committee has as members the ministers of finance, budget and national planning, interior and foreign affairs.

She said the report will be submitted "once members of the committee sign the report".

She was, however, silent on the date of submission and also date of the reopening.

Mrs Ahmed had during a discussion at the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES #26), assured that the borders would be reopened soon.

"We have made an assessment. The president set up a committee and we have made an assessment and all the members of the committee agreed and are recommending to the president that it is time to reopen the borders," she had said.

"The objective has been met in the sense that we have been able, over these couple of months, to work together with our partners in a tripartite committee and do a joint border patrol together and reinforce the sanctity of the commitments that we made to each other.

"So, each side has learnt its lessons. Nigeria has been affecting our partners in terms of businesses that we have in Nigeria as well. So, we will be expecting that the borders will be reopened very soon. The date will be decided by Mr President."

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