Ablakwa criticises Nigeria border closure

PARLIAMENT’S Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said the decision by Nigeria to shut its border with Benin flies in the face of the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

According to Mr Ablakwa, the establishment of the Pan-African trade agency will be meaningless if members close their doors to neighbours irrespective of the reasons that may inform their decision. 

Interacting with journalists in Parliament yesterday, Mr Ablakwa who is a second term Member for the North Tongu Constituency said “Nigeria is the big brother and must lead the way.”

Nigerian authorities earlier this month closed its land borders over smuggling claims. 

“All goods, for now are banned from being exported or imported through our land borders and that is to ensure that we have total control over what comes in,” Nigeria’s Comptroller General, Hameed Ali told reporters in Abuja last week. 

This, Mr Ablakwa argued does not auger well for the sustainability of the AfCFTA which was purposed to encourage economic integration. 

“Developments like these take us back” he said and cautioned against a tit-for-tat approach by other countries. 

Africa, he said, must be borderless to its citizens; an effort he said could be thwarted if “the big brother” does not set a worthy example of emulation. 

He called on countries in the sub-region and the continent at large to bring pressure upon Nigeria to re-open its borders to business. 

Noting that the Nigerian authorities may have a genuine concern, he said there were mechanism that could be used to effectively deal with their concerns. 

The closure of the border has led to huge congestions on the border as people hustle to cross to either side of the border. 

Ghana and Nigeria, meanwhile, have agreed on the creation of a temporary corridor for the transit of goods to avoid collateral damage. 

The agreement followed a meeting between Ghana’s Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Trade and Industry Minister, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botwe and Mr Alan Kyerematen respectively and their Nigerian counterparts. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI 

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