The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, said on Sunday that the closure of the Nigerian border has not in any way breached the free trade agreement in the West African sub-region.
The minister said the measure was designed to protect the country and its citizens from the nefarious activities taking place at the borders.
He said: “Free trade does not mean Nigeria has to be a dumping ground for everything imported by others. These products are not even from all these countries involved. So, why should they be feasting on us?
“Nigeria controls 60 to 70 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the West African sub-region.
“So, Nigeria’s economy still remains a buffer zone for the West African sub-region.
“Besides, most of the people that come into this country and melt into the population from the West African sub-region come in because this country is accommodating them.
“This happens to the extent that some of these people when they migrate into this country, you do not even know that they are immigrants.
“Take, for example, people from the Niger Republic when they come into Kano State, what will differentiate them from the people from Kano, or those from the Benin Republic who come into Oyo State or Osun. They look like us.
“This situation creates a problem, and the border closure is a measure that has gone a long way in solving the problem.”
The minister said the Federal Government was holding talks with the countries concerned to ensure that they kept to the terms of the free trade agreement.
He said the border closure was not meant to hurt anybody.
Nanono added: “It was a decision taken after careful deliberation and series of attempts by the government to get the neighbouring countries to check the illegal activities at the borders.’’
He pointed out that a lot of activities were going on at the borders which were not in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. (NAN)