The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari attributed the partial closure of the Nigerian border with the Republic of Benin to the mass smuggling activities, especially rice, that take place in that corridor.
The Nigeria newspaper report that The Nigerian leader gave the reason during a hearing granted to his Beninois counterpart, Patrice Talon, on the sidelines of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan, on Wednesday.
Buhari, who expressed great concern over rice smuggling, said it threatened the self-reliance already achieved due to his administration’s agricultural policies.
According to him, “Now that our people in rural areas are returning to their farms, and the country has saved vast sums of money that would otherwise have been spent on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves, we cannot allow smuggling. Of product in such alarming proportions to continue. ”
The Nigerian president said that the limited closure of the western border of the country would allow the Nigerian security forces to develop a strategy on how to stop the dangerous trend and its broader ramifications.
In response to concerns raised by President Talon about the extent of the suffering caused by the closure, Buhari said he had taken note and would reconsider the reopening in the not too distant future.
However, he revealed that a meeting with his counterparts from the Republics of Benin and Niger would soon be called to determine strict and comprehensive measures to reduce the level of smuggling across its borders.
Earlier, President Talon had said he called the Nigerian president as a result of the severe impact that the closure of the Nigerian border was having on his people.
Buhari also received in audience President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa during which issues of normal bilateral relations were discussed, especially the killings of Nigerians in South Africa. The matter will be examined further during the official visit of the Nigerian leader to Pretoria in October 2019.