The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor Godwin Emefiele in reactions to criticisms about the borders closure noted that it was done in the best economic interest of the country.
Emefiele also alleged that there are syndicates operating in neighbouring countries that has been leading to Nigeria being the dump sites of processed foods and goods hence a shift away from economic activities in the agriculture sector.
While meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari before departing to Saudi Arabia, the CBN Governor attributed the closure to complains from local rice producers and poultry farmers over their unsold products.
He explained: “You will all recall that in November 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Central Bank and some 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 organisations and individuals that are setting up mills, integrated mills and even small mills in the various areas.”
“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.”
“That 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 also complained that they have thousands of crates of eggs that they could not sell, also arising from the problem of smuggling and dumping of poultry products in Nigeria.”
“I was told also that after some meetings that were held with the president, the border was closed subsequently. 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 had all been sold.”
“Indeed, a lot of people have been depositing money in their accounts and they have been telling them ‘please, hold on, don’t even pay money yet until we finish processing your rice.'”
“The Poultry Association have also come to say that they have also come to say that they have sold all their eggs, they have sold all their processed chickens and that demand is rising.”
“So, when you asked, what is the benefit? The benefit of the border closure on the economy of Nigeria, I just used two products: poultry and rice.”
“The benefit is that it has helped to create jobs for our people. It has helped to bring our integrated rice milling that we have in the country back into business and they are making money.”