Nigeria’s borders with neighbouring country Benin Republic and Niger were shut from August 20, 2019. The main reason given for the border closure was to stop the smuggling of goods and illegal commercial activities. Hameed Ali, the comptroller-general of the Nigerian Customs Service said, “All goods are now banned from being exported or imported through our land borders and that is to ensure that we have total control over what comes in.” Nigeria also banned the sell of petrol to filling stations within a 20 kilometre radius around the country’s border.
President Muhammadu Buhari closed the borders in a move to end smuggling in the country. In a further move to stop the flow of foreign goods into the country, a Nigerian newspaper, The Guardian reported that Niger, Benin and Nigeria had released a communique stating that all three countries would form a joint patrol team that would consist of the police, customs, immigration, nave and state services.
The effect of the border closure has however been felt more by Nigerian businesses who are finding it hard to get much needed raw materials. Major supermarkets such as Shoprite and Spurs have been struggling with stocking chicken among other products. Quick service restaurant chain and franchise, Chicken Republic has also been affected by the border closure as they face a decline in chicken supply.
The border closure which is set to last until the end of January next year has increased hardships in Nigeria and has made many question the effectiveness of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) agreement signed by 54 African countries. Some have also critiqued President Buhari’s closure of the border as it doesn’t tackle the root issues, an ineffective customs service.
In response to Nigeria’s action of shutting its border, the Economic West African Countries, (ECOWAS) started declining Nigerian goods. ECOWAS has indicated that there should be no barriers to intra-community trade and movement. Private businesses have bore the brunt of the border closure, which violates ECOWAS protocol. Buhari’s move has increased inflation in Nigeria, with goods becoming more expensive.