Nigeria: President Buhari opens land border at Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun

 The Nigerian president has opened the land border at Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun.



The land borders were closed to goods in August 2019, with partial openings and closings for people prompted by the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2020.

Nigeria: President Buhari opens land border at Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun
Nigeria: President Buhari opens land border at Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun


In a recent meeting with the ruling APC party chieftans, President Buhari had promised the border would be opened ‘as soon as possible’. Presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu said that the ‘message had sunk in’ to neighbouring countries used as a base for smuggling into Nigeria.


That message was largely intended for Benin.

“A number of Nigerian business leaders have been complaining about Cotonou’s attitude. They claim their trucks going to Benin are overtaxed at the border,” says a Beninese businessman with links in Nigeria. “In addition, businessman Aliko Dangote, who bought the Nigerian government’s shares in the Lafarge group, wants to sell his cement in Benin, which Talon is prohibiting.”


No surprise then that Dangote emerged as a mediator between Buhari and Benin president Patrice Talon.


In September, Dangote flew Talon and the Benin finance minister Romuald Wadagni to Abuja for talks about re-opening the border.

In Iyoha’s estimation, the emergence of Nigeria’s finance minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the potential director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) poses a critical question: “how can a country be hostile to imports if its own citizen heads the largest global organisation committed to free trade?”


While Nigeria’s role in Okonjo-Iweala’s bid for WTO directorship is “quite negligible,” according to SBM’s Segun, still, “Nigeria’s nominee landing the position would invite greater scrutiny of the government’s trade policies,” Iyoha said. “What this will mean in practical terms for businesses in the country will depend on whether the Buhari administration cares enough about the country’s reputation to change course,” she added.


Analysts see the opening as helping Nigeria consolidate economic growth on the projection that reopening the borders will reverse the decline of the trade sector, one of the largest employers of labour in the country.

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