Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State have said that the decision by Nigeria to close its border is part of the measures to preserve its foreign policy in the national interest.
They made this known on Tuesday in Abuja during the launch of the maiden Foreign Policy Journal by the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN).
They noted that the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari was to stop neighbouring countries from violating the ECOWAS Protocol given that Nigeria was fast becoming a dumping ground.
Sanusi said that the closure of the border was not inconsistent with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), adding that countries should learn to live by the rules.
“Last time, I was critical of Nigeria’s refusal to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and recently I have been in supportive of the decision to close the border which now looks like two contradictory positions but they are not.
“The understanding that you have a free trade zone must come with the understanding that everybody must play by the rules. If the rules don’t work, free trade does not work.
“Nigeria is 70 per cent of the population of West Africa and If we have an industrial policy that is aimed at protecting the productive sector of Nigeria it is a fair competition.
“We cannot allow our neighbours to open their doors to this unfair competition and through the back door undermine our industry.
“It is not about smuggling petroleum or rice but in 2017, the Republic of Benin was the world’s second-largest importer of Tramadol to the United States.
“All those drugs came into Northern Nigeria and now we hear that there are also arms coming in.
“So closing the borders, I hope is not a permanent solution but what I hope is that is an opportunity to sit down and agree on rules and then open up the borders.
“It is extremely important to have a Foreign Policy that is ready to take very firm decision to protect the national interest against dangerous trade activities”, Sanusi said.
Fayemi said that the border closure is a foreign Policy measure that promotes the interest of the people because free trade has its rules and countries must adhere to those rules.
He said that the ACFTA was not a ground to allow for trade activities that would be detrimental to Nigeria and its citizens.
“You cannot say because we have signed up to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement you then violate the principle of free trade by dumping in our country.
“Those that think of the actions of Mr President as wrong are definitely misguided”, Fayemi said.
Fayemi further commended ARCAN for the initiative to compile the Foreign Policy journal which he said would give Nigerians more knowledge on Nigeria’s Foreign Policies.
In his remarks, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister for Foreign Affairs commended ARCAN for its dedication in ensuring that Nigeria’s foreign policy is constantly kept on the front burner through its various intellectually stimulating activities.
Onyeama who was represented by Amb. Zubairu Dada, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs said that there is no entity more qualified than ARCAN to speak on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy considering their wealth of experience.
He said that the launch of the journal was apt, as it was coming at a time the ministry was in the process of reviewing Nigeria’s foreign policy which is one of the 11 priority mandates of President Buhari.
Onyeama urged all Foreign Service Officers to read the journal and utilise it in furtherance of the service delivery.
Amb. Oladpo Fafowora, ARCAN Nation President said that the association launched the journal as part of its contribution to national development.
“Our foreign affairs and foreign policies are now facing severe challenges which need to be addressed urgently.
“We in ARCAN stand firmly to assisting in finding solutions to these challenges and with the launch, this journal, the voice of retired ambassadors in Nigeria will be heard more publicly,” Fafowora said.