The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, on Monday revealed conditions to be met before the country’s borders could be closed.
Speaking with the State House correspondents shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN governor said until neighbouring countries agree to implement mutual anti-smuggling policies, the borders would remain closed.
Mr Emefiele stated that Nigerian rice and poultry farmers have particularly been benefiting from the border closure.
“In November 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN 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 various areas.
“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. And that is very effective.
“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 – 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.
“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 complained that they have thousands of crates of eggs that they could not sell; even some of the processed chickens that they could not sell, also arising from smuggling and dumping of poultry products into Nigeria.
“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,” Mr Emefiele added.