By Ben Agande, who was in Lome, Togo
The minister of state for foreign affairs, Dr, Aliyu Idi Hong, has called on the relevant agencies of government to check the proliferation of check points alongÂ Seme Border-Mile Two side of the Nigerian-Benin border in order to increase economic activities between Nigeria andÂ other West African countries.
He spoke in Lome, Togo when he received representatives of the over two million strong Nigerian community in the West African country. Hong was in Togo to represent President Goodluck Jonathan at the swearing-in ceremony of Faure Gnasingbe who was taking office for his second term. According to the minister, â€œI think this is not pardonable and we must dismantle these so many toll gates on that road.
â€œActually it is not fair the number of tollÂ gates that we have between Seme border and Mile 2. To say the least, it is ridiculous. All manner of institutions and agencies of government are on that road. It adds to the cost of doing business and it also portrays us in bad light. When you travel outside the shores of our country, it is only one or two check points that you would meet.
But in our country, even after you have been cleared from the border, some people would still be bothering you. I think we should put our house in order. It is not necessary that we have to build so many toll gates on the road. If it is for revenue, it would have been collected at the point of entry,â€ he said.
Hong said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would â€˜make representation to the relevant authorities â€˜ on the check points on the road, noting that as the agency responsible for projecting the good image of the country, â€˜we have to start the rebranding process with ourselves firstâ€™.
He noted that the countryâ€™s aspiration for economic growth can only be achieved â€œwhen doing business in the country is made very easy and flexibleâ€.
He asked theÂ Nigerian community in Togo to sanitize their ranks in order to ensure that when the check points are removed, it would be to the benefit of genuine business men and women and not those who have the intent to defraudÂ government.