Border closure! Border closure! Border Closure! This is no longer news in Nigeria a the moment. Amidst the insecurities, corruption, incessant killings, disregard for the rule of law and the intending ban on the freedom of speech and expression and border closure thereby preventing the importation of food items, overpopulation will be another issue to be challenged in 2020.
In a tweet by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Somalia, Ambassador Ahmed Awad disclosed that Major General Buhari announced at the ASWAN Forum ‘complete visa exemption for all Africans’.
According to him, starting from January 2020, Africans will be able to arrive in Nigeria without visas. Whilst the authencity of this news hasn’t been confirmed by any official, this development if true couldn’t have come at a more precarious time for the country.
Presidential View on Border Closure
Earlier in the year, particularly in August 2019, Major General Muhammadu Buhari announced the border closure as a response to the importation of consumables in Nigeria. According to the Federal Government, this is an attempt to tackle illicit trade and to strengthen security in the country.
Whilst this development has reportedly raked in #5billion daily, this development has had adverse effect on businesses in Nigeria and neighboring countries as well.
Benin Republic for example relies heavily on Nigeria but this decision has affected the countries substantial income and employment. Businesses that rely on the importation of raw materials for production have had to source for alternative means of raw materials and channel of importation.
The purchasing power of Nigerians have been affected to as the price of staple foods is on the high side. Rice is the country’s main staple food and the price has more than doubled in the last couple of months. However, instead of addressing the issue of border closure and proffering alternative solutions that will tackle illicit trade.
In the same light it will help local businesses who use the Nigerian-Benin border as a viable channel of importation. The President has instead opened the border to Africans.
According to the reported declaration, other Africans will be able to enter the country without visas. On the other hand, Nigerians passport holders can access about 23 countries. These countries are: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cape Verde, Mali, Senegal amongst others.
Border Closure Not for Humans
It is however unclear if it only permits them to access the visa on arrival or it guarantees them unrestricted access to the country without a visa even on arrival. This development is in a way commendable as it promotes an all-inclusive union of African countries and can spur other countries into action. However, given the recent happenings in the country, is this a good time for this development?
Why Border Closure for Goods and Opening to Humans is Bad for Nigeria.
In this year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a list of suspected online fraudsters and according to that report, a good number of these online fraudsters are Nigerians. Further investigation however revealed that the suspected Nigerian online fraudsters were in fact non-Nigerians but they had Nigerian passport.
This revealed that non-Nigerians have access to the Nigerian passport and could perpetuate crimes that would be credited to the country’s account. Access to the country without visa might open the country to terrorists, robbers, fraudsters and all kinds of human.
Another argument against the declaration of the President, is the fact that the country is presently overpopulated with barely enough employment, shelter, food and security. The country hasn’t been able to successfully cater for the 170million estimated citizens. It wants to add the burden of providing for humans from another country.
The Nigerians that relocated back to the country as a result of the Xenophobic attack on Nigerians in South Africa haven’t been provided for but the country is being opened to more people?
There are reports daily of kidnapping activities, robbery on the highway. Even in homes of individuals, humans being used for rituals just because of the overpopulation of the country and the difficulty to survive. This decision will, if true and implemented, cause an increase in crime rate. It will be difficult to determine the perpetrators of these acts.
During the incessant killings of the Fulani herdsmen, it was rumoured that these herdsmen weren’t in fact Nigerians but from neighbouring countries. The authencity of this news wasn’t confirmed but this will undoubtedly be the resultant effect if the President’s decision gets endorsed.
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has still been unable to provide all Nigerians with the necessary National Identity Card. This card is to be used for easy Identification of the citizens.
There were controversies surrounding the Identity Card
Such as the necessity of the e-ID card, given its functionalities and the Nigerians who wouldn’t access these functionalities such as a tool for making payments for goods and services in any part of the world, secure communication between users etc.
The provision of a basic card with an individual’s NIN card to be used for Identification and the ultimate being the fact that most Nigerians haven’t been able to get their Permanent I.D. card. Given all these controversies surrounding the National I.D. card and the challenge in identifying a Nigerian, it is glaring that the country isn’t ready to open its gates to all and sundry. Certain issues need to be rectified first to avoid the saying “One does not go to bed while there’s fire on one’s roof”.