Buhari orders reopening of Seme, Illela, two other land borders

More than a year after the land borders were closed, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the opening of four of the borders.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, who made the disclosure on Wednesday while addressing State House correspondents shortly after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, said other land borders to be opened by December 31, 2020.

The four borders are Seme in the southwest, Illela in Sokoto State, Maigatari in the northwest, and Mfun in the south-south.

The minister, however, said restriction on the importation of some commodities, like rice and other products, would continue to be enforced.

Buhari had ordered the closer of the land borders more than a year ago, citing economic and security reasons.

The president had said the closure of the borders was also an attempt to control the smuggling of weapons and drugs from neighboring countries.

Many have attributed the current economic recession partly to the border closure that has been in place since August 2019, which, among others, has seen inflation rise to a 30-month high.

Policy experts have said that lifting the blockade will help check the recession, the nation’s worst in decades, and ease the economic hardship faced by Nigerians.

Last month, finance minister Zainab Ahmed said Buhari would soon receive a report of a presidential committee to advise on the reopening of the borders.

Mrs Ahmed said although the committee set up by Mr Buhari had done an assessment of the gains of the closure and had recommended to the president to reopen the borders, the report had not been submitted.

The committee has as members the ministers of finance, budget and national planning, interior and foreign affairs, she said, noting that the report would be submitted “once members of the committee sign the report.

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