Nigeria border closure: Okudzeto Ablakwa calls for an emergency ECOWAS meeting to resolve impasse

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Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has called for an emergency meeting of heads of state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) following the extension of the closure of the Nigerian border, ABC News can report.

According to Mr Ablakwa, the decision by the Nigerian President, Mahamudu Buhari to extend its border closure to January 31 “is an indication that the matters in issue are indeed moving from bad to worse,” describing the development as a mockery of the ECOWAS Protocols.

“It is time for Niger President, Mahamadou Issoufou who is the Chairman of ECOWAS to show bold leadership by urgently convening an emergency ECOWAS meeting of Heads of State to critically consider Nigeria’s conduct and the way forward for genuine Pan-African integration. I observe anecdotally that Niger is also directly affected as the Nigeria-Niger land border remains closed, just like his other counterpart at the Nigeria-Cameroon end,” he said.

Mr. Ablakwa further noted that a timely intervention by the leadership of ECOWAS is required to rekindle trust in the  integration agenda among Africans.

“Timely leadership is required at this crucial hour to rekindle confidence in the integration agenda amongst the vast majority of Africans who have become increasingly disillusioned over the years due to the narrow, inward looking and short term detrimental interest of some African leaders,” he opined.

Nigeria has shut down its land borders, restricting trade and further compounding an uncertain outlook for Africa’s largest economy. The move also casts doubt over the continent’s wider push toward free trade and cooperation.

The closure, according to Nigerian authorities, is aimed at stemming flows of smuggled goods such as rice and tomatoes, and effectively severe trade with neighboring Benin, Niger and Cameroon only months after Nigeria signed the landmark African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which plans to establish the world’s largest free trading bloc.

Underpinning the shutdown is a shift in economic policy intended to address some of the country’s domestic frailties by driving production at the expense of imports.

But, many economic watchers and stake holders including IMANI Africa have criticised the move saying it has the tendency to further devastate Nigeria’s economy.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the closure of Nigeria’s border with neighboring countries to January 31, Lagos-based Punch newspaper reported.

Land borders with countries including Benin and Niger have been partially closed since August 20 in a move to curb the smuggling of large quantities of rice and other commodities into the country.



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