The Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, says the country is reaping a lot of economic benefits form the closure of its borders.
Governor of the bank, Godwin Emefiele made the disclosure on Monday, when addressing State House Correspondents after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said rice and poultry farmers are already making a lot of sales thus boosting the economy.
“There have been a lot of complaints about the border closure, what have been the effect on the economy and rice production in the country?
“You will all recall that in November 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari the central bank and some state governors went to Kebbi State to launch the Wet Season Rice Farming. Since then, we have seen an astronomical growth in the number of farmers who have been going into rice farming and our paddy production has gone up also quite exponentially. Between 2015 and also now, we have also seen an astronomical rise in the number of companies, corporate and individuals that are setting up mills, integrated mills and even small mills in the various areas. And the central bank and the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development has been the Centre of not just only encouraging the production of rice in Nigeria but also funding these farmers by given them loans to buy seedlings, fertilizers or some of the herbicides that they need for their rice production.
“You will all be recalled that we have been embarking on a programme where we are saying if you are involved in the business of smuggling or dumping of rice in the country, we close your account in the banking industry. Although that is coming very effectively,” he said.
The Central Bank Governor said farmers in the country have since cleared their stocks were in warehouses before the border closure.
He said: “Recently, and this is the absolute truth, about two weeks before the border closure, the chairman of the Rice Processors Association, incidentally, he owns Umza Rice in Kano, he called me and said that all the rice millers and processors are carrying in their warehouses nothing less than 25,000 metric tons of milled rice in their warehouses. That this rice has been unsold because of the smuggling and dumping of rice through Republic of Benin and other border posts that we have in the country and that he would want us to do something about it. Secondly, we also have members of the Poultry Association of Nigeria who also complained that they have thousands of crates of eggs that they could not sale together with even some of the process chickens that they could not sale also arising from problem of smuggling and dumping of poultry products into Nigeria.
“I was told also that after some meetings that were held in addition to those engagements that we (CBN) also held with the president, the border was closed subsequently.
“A week after the borders were closed, the same rice millers’ association called to tell us that all the rice that they had in their warehouses have all been sold. Indeed, a lot of people have been depositing money in their accounts and they have even been telling them “please hold on don’t even pay money yet until we finished processing your rice.”
“The Poultry Associations have also come to say that they have sold all their eggs, they have sold all their processed chickens and that demand is rising. So, when you asked, what is the benefit, the benefit of the border closure on the economy of Nigeria, I just used two products – poultry and rice. The benefit is that it has helped to create jobs for our people, it has helped to bring our integrated rice milling that we have in the country back into business again and they are making money. Our rural communities are bubbling because there are activities, because rice farmers are able to sale their paddy. The poultry business is also doing well, and also maize farmers who produce maize from which feeds are produced are also doing business. These are the benefits.”
He however said before the borders are re-opened, Nigeria will have to make concrete agreements with neighbouring countries on how to prevent smuggling.
“We are not saying that the borders should be closed in perpetuity, but that before the borders be reopened, there must be concrete engagements with countries that are involved in using their ports and countries as landing ports for bringing in goods that are smuggling into Nigeria.
“That engagement must be held so that we agree on the basis under which; what are the kinds of products that they can land in their countries because if those products they land in their countries is meant for their own local consumption, it is understandable. But the fact that those product are landed in their countries and then transshipped or smuggled into Nigeria is something that I am sure you all agree as Nigerians we should not allow to happened because it undermines our economic policy, it undermines our own desire to make sure that industries are alive and jobs are created in Nigeria,” he said.
The borders were closed few weeks back due to the substandard products that are smuggled and dumped into the Nigerian markets.