A Panel of Discussants on Thursday expressed divergent views on the closure of the country’s borders, arguing whether the closure was in the beat interest of Nigerians.
They expressed their views at an event, organised by the Consolidated Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ogun State Chapter to mark this year’s World Television Day.
The topic of the discourse was “Border closure: Gains and Pains.
Two of the four discussants, defended the government for taking the decision while the other two spoke against it.
Those who spoke were a veteran journalist, Eddy Aina, Dapo Oke, a community leader at the Nigeria-Republic of Benin border, Abdullahi Maiwada, spokesman of the Ogun State Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Sunday Olaposi Oginni, Secretary of the State Chapter of the Labour Party (LP).
While Aina and Maiwada agreed that Nigeria “cannot continue to be a big brother of Africa while we continue to suffer”, Oginni was of the view that the policy was not thought through because “it is an anti-people policy which has increased the suffering of the masses.”
Eddy Aina insisted that, the border should have closed much earlier for the benefit of the country and cited India as an example of a country who took a firm decision to ban importation of textiles at a certain period, arguing that the country now is the largest exporter of textiles in the world.
For Oginni the “suffering” the closure had brought to the ordinary Nigerian has wiped out any benefit the country has derived from it.
Oginni stated “The closure is anti- people, it ought to have been discussed extensively with the people before the final decision is taken.
He added “It (closure) is anti- people , that is why the government did not implement it before the general elections. The policy is bad, our (Nigeria) problem is bad leadership, bad policies and bad implementation.”
The customs spokesman Maiwada insisted that the decision is in order as it had immensely benefitted the country in terms of revenue generation, among others.
He argued that no country can eradicate smuggling completely “It can only be suppressed”.
The community leader, Oke ascribed the rampant smuggling in the border areas to the government’s neglect of the border communities.
He also cited mass unemployment in these areas as another factor.
The Chairman the Consolidated Chapel, Akeem Olowe had earlier in his speech said “As journalists, we see it as our responsibility to bring people with different opinion to come together to discuss the matter and possibly suggest solution for the Federal government on how to handle the situation at hand.”
Olowe was of the view that creating such platform for different individuals to exchange ideas and bear their minds, “We are also contributing our quota to the development of the nation.”