Former Ghanaian President, John Mahama has called for the urgent resolution of the issues that led to the unilateral closure of Nigerian borders since August this year.
Mahama said the closure of the borders by the Nigerian Government is a worrying development for the growth of free trade in the Economic Community of West Africa States, ECOWAS, sub-region.
He noted that the total closure of the Benin border, particularly, is having a significant toll on many small and medium businesses especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire that rely on this inter-country trade.
Speaking as a Guest Lecturer at the 7th edition of Realnews Magazine annual Lecture series which was held in Abuja on Tuesday, he added that businesses in Nigeria that rely on supplies from these countries are also suffering.
“I am sure that businesses in Nigeria that rely on supplies from these countries are also suffering”, he said.
Based on the recent signing of the joint border task force agreement between Nigeria and her neighbours, he made an appeal to Nigeria to open up her border so that economic activities can resume.
“As the largest economy in West Africa, I believe it is not by accident that Nigeria is home to the headquarters of the ECOWAS. The import of the following quote from the objective principles for establishment of ECOWAS cannot be lost on us
“ECOWAS was set up to foster the ideal of collective self-sufficiency for its member states. As a trading union, it is also meant to create a single, large trading bloc through economic cooperation. Integrated economic activities as envisaged in the area revolve around but are not limited to industry, transport”, he said.
The former Ghanaian President, pointed out that Nigeria’s position may be understandable, considering the harmful effects of unbridled smuggling goods on the growth of local production.
He however argued that it is problematic that sub-regional economic activity and trade should suffer because of domestic institutional weaknesses.
Mahama further observed that Nigeria must invest in strengthening its institutions and systems that are responsible for preventing the importation of illegal or prohibited goods.
“As a former Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, I have an abiding interest in the progress of ECOWAS and its people.
“I believe that as an economic and regional bloc, a lot of economic opportunities are available to us, and we must take advantage of them”, he stressed.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Publisher/Editor of Realnews Magazine and Publications limited, Maureen Chigbo, thanked the Guest Lecturer for honoring the invitation.
Chigbo said the anniversary lecture series is one way Realnews is contributing to nation building and development by providing a forum for frank discussion by professionals, scholars, technocrats and influential personalities on the way forward for Nigeria in and Africa in general
“This year we are exploring an economic narrative for West Africa beyond politics with the sub-theme: The end of oil: Whither the Nigeria economy.
“Our choice of the 2019 topic and sub-theme was informed by the need to escalate and broaden the conversation on the economic challenges facing our region with Nigeria as the regional economic powerhouse”, she added.
This, according to her, is against the background of the recently endorsed Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).
“More countries in the West Coast are discovering oil, which is a finite resource. How about the danger of over-dependence on oil revenue and the unending call for economic diversification?” she further noted.
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