Nigeria recently closed its land borders to all movement of goods in and out of the country with no timeline given for reopening them. The closure is part of efforts to curb smuggling across the borders. The new Federal Government order bans all goods from being exported or imported through the country’s land borders, with the aim of ensuring total control over what comes into the country.
Africa’s largest economy launched the partial border closure in August, as part of efforts to thwart the smuggling of rice and other goods produced in the country. This is to enable it strategize on how best goods coming into the country will be handled when the borders are eventually re-opened.
The border closure has brought to the fore the need to promote home made goods and protect home grown agricultural products. Farmers are better protected and farming is gradually becoming lucrative, thereby creating millions of jobs for Nigeria’s teeming unemployed youth.
The policy is also in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge when taking the oath of office for the second term. In his speech he promised to create one hundred million jobs, provide clean water, ensure compulsory and free education especially at the basic level, tackle climate change, as well as completely end the Boko Haram insurgency and other forms of criminalities in the country.
The governments’ efforts are geared towards boosting investor confidence in the economy in order attract direct foreign investment, thereby improving the economy that is so dependent on oil.
Laudable as these goals are, the Buhari-led administration is expected to match words with actions by sustaining the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which was introduced during the first term of the President. This will engender growth and promote the value chain of infrastructural development.
Agriculture and solid minerals remain the best bet for Nigeria if she is to boost food supply, attain self-sufficiency and enhance the export of farm produce such as rice, yam, sorghum, millet and others, as well as generate more revenue.
Therefore, there is the need to make soft loans available to farmers through the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria and to provide agricultural inputs like fertilizer, improved seedlings and insecticides, in order to increase yield.
Emphasis should also be placed on the solid minerals sector, which has raked in millions of naira over the last four years, as government continues with the diversification of the economy.
Provision of critical infrastructure like the rail projects as well as road construction and rehabilitation, throughout the country is also key to the development of the nation.
No doubt, government is on course in the fight against corruption, as high profile personalities who hitherto were considered untouchable have been prosecuted. Millions of dollars stashed in foreign accounts have also been repatriated.
The government should however ensure it spreads its dragnets to all culprits with fairness and objectivity, so as not to be seen as being vindictive to those who are not in its good books.
Youth empowerment is one area to which the Buhari-led administration should also pay special attention, as these are the strength of any nation desiring to grow. Consequently, it must ensure that the five hundred billion naira budgeted for social investment programmes, is utilized for that purpose.
The N-Power programme, aimed at equipping the youth with various vocations, thereby making them entrepreneurs and employers of labour, should also be pursued vigorously to end youth restiveness in the country.
Nigerians have not lost hope in the present administration, especially in the areas of peace and security, good governance and the recent increase in workers minimum wage. These have in turn provided hope of greater things to come in the coming years and increase in productivity in the country.