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I’ll deliver stakeholders’ message on border closure, but…—Trade Fair ED

The Executive Director and Chief Executive of Lagos Trade Fair Management Board (TFMB), Chief Mrs. Lucy Ajayi, has informed business operators at the massive and sprawling Lagos International Trade Fair complex that she will deliver their clarion call to the Federal Government on opening the border.

However, she argued that border closure was a clear Federal Government policy to curtail smuggling of goods which Nigeria has comparative advantage and to further stop subsidizing petroleum products for West African neighbours.

Chief Ajayi, who was responding to the Award Lectures presented by the President of Mandilas International Trade Centre (MITC), Chief Tony Okeke at Golden Tulip Hotels, FESTAC recently, said “I think the policy of the government is not to destroy any body’s business but to grow indigenous businesses for the interest of job creation and youth’s employment.”

“I understand that the border closure is affecting a lot of businesses at the complex because many of your customers are along the ECOWAS markets.

“Having heard the excellent lecture delivered by one of your own, Chief Okeke, I will deliver your message to the Federal Government as a servant, but I want to assure you that serious diplomatic processes are currently ongoing between the governments of Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigerian officials on how best to resolve the border crisis.

Earlier in his nearly one hour lecture presentation captioned: ‘The Impacts of Border Closure on Businesses in Lagos International Trade Fair Complex: The Way Forward’; Chief Okeke took time to present clear analysis of international best practices on what usually leads to border closure, saying the reasons given by government in controlling rice and fuel smuggling is regrettable.

According to him, “International land borders are usually closed unilaterally in times of war, deadly insurgency, election, census, border surveillance drills and never on grounds of stopping smugglings.

“To us, the implications of closing borders based on entrance of illicit goods are a serious indictment to border security details on their corrupt tendencies and therefore their sins should not be visited on genuine businesses at the Lagos trade fair complex who are taxpayers’.

“Since the closure of the border, businesses at the complex had been going down because there is no more massive capital inflow from the West African sub region and that remains a big minus for business activities at the complex.

“Besides, whereas lots of shops whose businesses are driven by demands from West Africa or ECOWAS markets have remained closed since August this year when the border was closed.

“The implication of this is that they may not be able to pay their bills or cater for their children demands early next year.

However, in his recommendations for resolving the border closure challenge, MUTA President, Chief Okeke, called on the Federal Government retrain its border security details with modern surveillance gadgets and technologies so as to improve on their capabilities to handle the job.

“Besides, government should purge the border security details of bad eggs who creating the problem of border porosity.

In his final submission, the guest lecturer, called on the Federal Government to rethink the closure and grant access to genuine goods which had paid all duties and made official border passage documentation than frustrating the businesses of taxpayers at the border.