OBVIOUS SUPPLIES GAP in Nigeria’s local markets, and effects from land borders closure, is taking its toll in peoples pockets, and the nation’s economy. When demands out-pace supplies, inflation sets in. Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, recent figures on inflation rate in the country, has shown that inflation rates are rising; despite government insistence that it is moving the country towards sufficiency, especially, in food and other supplies.
Nigerian government, has consistently, stated that it is planning full-scale exportation of some categories of food items – rice, yam, among others. Perhaps, in the year 2022. A country that plans to embark on food exportation, certainly, will ensure its people flourish with sufficient supplies for consumption, and surplus in reserves. Nigeria has no figures to show for any of these — adequate supplies and reserves. Rising inflation figures, simply show that government is not matching words with action.
Recently inflation rate, according to NBS, increased from 11.98 percent in December 2019, to 12.13 per cent in January 2020. The highest rate recorded in the country since May 2018, which was at 11.61 percent. Month on month, inflation rose by 12.13 percent in January, higher than the rate of 11.98 percent recorded in December, and 11.85 percent in November 2019.
The most closely watched component of the inflation index, is FOOD. It rose by 14.85 percent in January 2020, compared to 14.67 percent, recorded a month earlier. Month-on-month basis, food sub-index rose by 0.99 percent in January 2020, (which is 0.02 percent increase) from 0.97 percent, recorded in December 2019.
Nigeria seemed, not prepared, yet, to reopen its land borders. Government said it would sustain the closure till the desired goals are achieved. Local manufacturers and business concerns are asking for concessions over their goods that are trapped at the borders. There are, also, concerns about the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, expected to take effect July, 2020, due to continued closure of Nigeria’s land borders.
Farmers and other local manufacturers in Nigeria, are sprawling in the euphoria of the short-sighted monopoly they are, presently enjoying, due to the land borders closure. They are, vehemently, opposed to government’s reopening the land borders. Rather, they are seeking for continued closure of the borders. They do not see beyond the subsistence gains they are making, against growth of the nation’s economy.
Experts continued to insist that Nigeria’s land borders closure had positive and negative implications for the economy. And the trade sector, currently, feels the backlash most. The trade sector fell into recession in the third quarter of 2019, while its contributions to Gross Domestic Product, GDP, dropped by one percent, within the same period, according official statistics.
At a stakeholders forum on border closure, organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Tuesday, in Lagos, Toki Mabogunje, President LCCI, said: “On positives, we have seen appreciable increase in domestic rice and poultry product production. Fuel smuggling to neighbouring countries has reduced. The directive paid off for the Nigerian Customs Service, as revenue generated by the agency increased to ₦1.34trillion in 2019 from ₦1.2trillion in 2018.
“On the flipside, the closure of the land borders has triggered inflationary pressure through rising food prices. Food inflation continues to uptrend, hitting a record 14.7% in December 2019, which is the highest in 20 months. This policy pronouncement has also led to unplanned losses for manufacturers, especially those who export their products to neighbouring countries by road,” she added.
Hameed Ali, Nigeria’s Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, at the forum, said Nigeria’s neighbours were yet to comply with ECOWAS protocols on transit of goods, which destination, often, is Nigeria. He said: “The protocols on transit of goods demands that when a transit container berths at the seaport, the receiving country is mandated to escort same without tampering with the seal to the border of the destination country and hand over to the Customs officials of the destination country.
“Rather, they break the seals of containers on transit to Nigeria at their ports, and trans-load the goods on open trucks which belong to their country from where same is trams-loaded on to Nigerian trucks. Unfortunately, all previous efforts including provision of nine escort vehicles to them yielded no positive change.” Ali was represented at the forum by Kaycee Ekekezie, Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs.
Ekekezie said Nigeria would continue to engage with its neighbours through diplomatic means to ensure compliance on transit trade protocol.
Overall concern to Nigerian government, according to experts, should be how the economy is impacting on the people, and the sustained national growth of the economy. The economy, is presently, slumbering. The World Bank, has cut down its growth forecast for Nigeria’s economy in the year 2020, from (2.5 percent) to (2 percent).