Lai Omotola, a private sector operator, has said that as long as high demands for food items outweigh supply, closure of Nigerian borders could only amount to an action in futility.
Omotola, who gave the insight during the annual end of year press briefing of CFL Group on the state of the nation, in Lagos, said: “I said it last year that the closure of border would not achieve anything. Business survives on demand. When there is demand for a product, people will go all out to get it no matter how you try to stop them. To get that product, people compromise those put in charge to check the influx of such products. That was what happened at the borders since they were closed in August last year.”
Explaining why he believed the border closure was a mistake ab initio, he said: “Nigeria as a country has over 200million people. We cannot produce enough to feed ourselves. We needed imports from other countries. For instance, Benin Republic is a smaller country, but produces more than its population needs, and Nigeria needs the food items from Cotonou to feed her large population; so, as long as our production is small and cannot meet our local needs, people must do everything to bring in the food items. That was why the border closure ended up enriching many of those who were supposed to enforce the ban.”
While rolling out the plans for his group of companies for 2021, Omotola, who is the managing director/chief executive officer of CFL Group, said the only way businesses can survive in times of adversity is not to fold up, but to squarely face the challenge.
“As a business, you must not close shop or run away. You must not resign to fate. You must think big even in times of lack. Certain entrepreneurs believe the only way to stay on top of dwindling economy is to continue to stay on top; ride the waves. Businesses must diversify to stay afloat in this period of recession,” he said.
“Diversification is the secret of our staying power. In modern day today, people must learn to multi-task. If Nigeria had diversified many years back, we would not be in the economic situation we are in today. It is creative ideas that have kept data companies and telecom companies where they are today; that in the midst of Covid-19 and recession, they are on the rise. Our staying power in the group has been the ability to diversify into other sectors while others are having problems,” he added.