More firms in Nigeria have received exemption from the country’s controversial closure of its land borders but the government’s silence on the criteria for its selective action is causing more worry among leading business leaders and investors.
The border closure came under fresh condemnation after leading banker Atedo Peterside lashed at the government for keeping the borders shut while exempting Dangote Cement from the closure.
Businessday can now authoritatively report that another large cement manufacturer BUA Cement and at least one gas company have also received government approval to move their products across the land borders.
According to a June 18, 2020 letter by the Customs high command and titled “RE-Approval for movement of BUA Cement trucks to Nigeria Republic,” the Customs zonal coordinator in charge of Sokoto and Zamfara states was instructed to allow trucks belonging to BUA to “exit and return through Illela border station in Sokoto state.”
The memo signed by Dimka V.D. was based on a letter from the office of the National security adviser dated June 17, 2020 and it came with a list of the names of drivers and truck license numbers.
Yesterday Bloomberg reported that the Nigerian government had allowed Dangote Cement to resume exports across its land borders, a move seen as a prelude opening up trade with neighbors after a year-long blockade.
However, Peterside said via a tweet Tuesday, that “allowing legitimate exporters and importers to move their goods across the border should be a no-brainer.”
According to him, “this is why some of us argue that the Nigerian economy is rigged in favour of a handful of well-connected persons.”
Nigerian authorities closed the borders with neighboring countries including Benin and Niger to curb smuggling and boost local production.
Although the blockade encouraged the consumption of locally grown produce such as rice, it hurt factories across West Africa, which rely on Nigeria’s market of 200 million people.