Why I Closed Nigeria’s Borders – Buhari

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The President, Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his rationale behind the closure of Nigeria’s land borders.

Why I Closed Nigeria's Borders - Buhari
President Mohammadu Buhari

The president said the closure of Nigeria’s land borders was aimed at promoting self-sufficiency in food production among Nigerians

Despite initial criticism, Buhari stated that Nigerians eventually recognized the benefits of the decision.

The president made these remarks during the inauguration ceremony of the newly constructed Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) headquarters in the prestigious Maitama district of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The project reportedly cost N19.6 billion.

During his speech on Tuesday, President Buhari emphasized the vast expanse of Nigeria’s borders, spanning over 1,600 kilometers from Lake Chad to the Benin Republic.

Acknowledging the impossibility of effectively guarding such extensive boundaries, he emphasized the need for competent supervision.

“Only God can effectively guard the borders,” he said. “So you need a person who has the energy and the competence to supervise. I deliberately closed the borders because knowing Nigerians, they order rice, give some to Niger and the rest, and then they bring the rice here.”

Buhari further elaborated on the agricultural potential of Nigeria, highlighting the abundance of arable land, favorable weather conditions, and a large population.

He stressed the importance of consuming locally produced food, stating, “With our potential, we have people, we have land, and weather – how many nations are as lucky as Nigeria in the world, very few nations.

“So closing that border, 1,600 kilometers, Nigerians insist they eat boiled rice – you eat what you grow or you die. I tried to make my point and later Nigerians appreciated it.”

The president also shed light on his selection of Hameed Ali as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, citing his experience and competence.

Buhari recounted the challenges faced by Ali during his tenure working under the late Sani Abacha, a former military head of state.

“As for Hameed Ali, I asked him to be in charge of customs. No matter what people say about the late Sani Abacha, may his soul rest in peace,” Buhari stated.

“I knew him very well when somehow he became president of this country, head of state, the biggest problem area was around Kaduna. He picked Colonel Hameed Ali and dumped the problems on him.

“My decision for Hameed Ali to come to customs was a deliberate one. [I brought] Colonel Hameed Ali to ensure that I have peace of mind.”

In response, Comptroller-General Ali commended President Buhari’s efforts to combat corruption within the Nigeria Customs Service.

Ali highlighted the significant impact of the 100 percent increase in remuneration for customs personnel, which has made them less susceptible to corrupt practices. “We must mention the game-changing intervention of Mr. President to rid the NCS of corruption and put it on a path of integrity,” Ali remarked.

“The 100 percent increase in the remuneration for officers and men of the service decisively made them less susceptible to corruption.”

President Buhari’s address at the inauguration ceremony shed light on his government’s commitment to fostering self-reliance and strengthening agricultural productivity in Nigeria.

The closure of land borders, despite initial concerns, has been justified as a means to encourage the consumption of locally produced food. With the new customs headquarters now operational, the government aims to enhance the efficiency and integrity of customs operations, ensuring the continued growth and development of Nigeria’s economy.

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