By Anthony Otaru, Abuja
The Federal Government has said the decision to reopen the nations’ land boarders will be in strict compliance with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) regional trade protocol agreements.
Sequel to the border closure, government set up a monitoring and patrol team comprising relevant security agencies in an exercise code-named, Operation Exercise Swift Response.
The border closure has been criticised as negating the spirit behind the recently-signed, African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA)
Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, at a news conference yesterday, in Abuja, said reopening the borders would depend on recommendations from the patrol team on whether Niger and Benin Republic have complied with the trade protocols.
She said no date had been fixed for the reopening, adding, “We had a strategic meeting with the three countries, and what we agreed with our neighbours is to activate a joint border patrol, and the border patrol comprises the Customs, all the security agencies and ensure to try to follow the actual protocol laid by ECOWAS.
“The committee met on November 25, and it is only when that committee is certain that all the countries are respecting the ECOWAS protocol that they will recommend a day for the opening of the border.
“Government has opened talks with Jaiz Bank Plc, and Small and Medium Development Enterprises, to initiate schemes that will engage women who do little businesses along the border sides.’’
Also speaking, the Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Richard Adebayo, said the Ministry is currently carrying out a review of Nigeria’s trade policy as well as the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, to reflect current economic realities.
“We are now looking at the automotive policy review, a meeting would be held with stakeholders in the auto sector on January 28, to get their input at the meeting too. The Executive would present a bill to the National Assembly for the policy to become law.”
Adebayo expressed government’s interest in sustaining the development of economic zones across the country, after due diligence.
“We are still desirous of creating these zones. However, we are trying to be diligent to avoid pitfalls. A lot is going on about Economic zones,” he said.