‘Nigerians must endure temporary pain’ – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says Nigerians must endure the temporary effects of the closure of the borders in order to reap the benefits.

Lai Mohammed stated this on Monday, October 21, during a working visit in Lagos.

The minister reiterated the government’s position that the closure of the borders was not indefinite. He added that it was as a result of the failure of the neighbouring countries to fulfil their obligations.

“What has happened is that there is an agreement among the ECOWAS member states that goods coming into Nigeria must be containerized and taken through the border where they can be assessed and attested that they are not smuggled items.

“However, this agreement has not been adhered to by our neighbours

“We know that the closure is inflicting some collateral damages to many people. But in the overall interest of Nigerians, we need to persevere and bear with the government so that our neighbours would be responsible and responsive,” he said.

On the gains of the closure, the minister said that apart from billions of Naira accruing to government purse from payment of duties; there have been a lot of testimonies of Nigerians in the agricultural sector.

Lai Mohammed disclosed that many poultry farmers have given testimonies of how the border closure had improved on their sales. These include eggs and birds while there has been high demand for local rice.

Furthermore, the minister assured Nigerians that the price of local rice will be crashed soon.

“Local rice is not only helping our economy and generating employment. But it is also more healthy than imported rice.

“I can assure you that it will not be forever. We are also engaging our neighbours so that they can do the right thing,” he said.

Reacting to the question on whether Nigeria, with the border closure, has flouted the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari; the minister affirmed that national security takes precedence over any agreement.

“First is the issue of national security and the survival of the country. A country must survive first before it becomes a member of an organisation and signatory to any agreement.

“For us, it is because there is a Nigeria that we can first talk of signing the AFCTA.

“We believe that there is an external threat to our economy that needed to be addressed first then we will resolve the issue of AFCTA,” he said.

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