The Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN) on Friday appealed to the Federal Government to urgently resolve issues around the border closure to promote inclusive economic growth.
Mr Saviour Iche, National President of AMEN, made the plea at a media briefing on the effects of border closure on local businesses and manufacturers in Lagos.
Iche said that the alternative use of seaports and airline for export freight as suggested by the government was beyond the financial capacity of most MSMEs.
“We wish that we can explore the freight option suggested by government, but most of us have not grown financially to that stage, that is why we are appealing to government to help us.
“Over 90 per cent of small manufacturers and businesses with large customer base outside Nigeria are as a result of the border closure gradually going out of business because they cannot export their products.
“The services sector has also not been spared by the policy as movement of personnel and work materials have come under heavy restrictions,” Iche said.
According to him, the situation has affected the income of businesses, hindered them from meeting financial obligations to creditors, family members and even, revenue to government.
He decried that most of the manufacturers and MSMEs embraced export to promote their products and expand their markets due to their willingness to support government’s efforts to diversify the economy and boost non-oil export revenues.
Iche recalled that the border closure occurred weeks after Nigeria signed onto the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
According to him, it sends a wrong signal to other countries about Nigeria’s sincerity to Africa’s economic integration.
He acknowledged that it was crucial and urgent to curb smuggling activities in the country’s land border, noting that the policy should be situated in the larger context of the overall economy.
He said that technology had made the world a global village with reduction in borders and economic integration being pursued.
The association president urged the government to explore proven ways adopted by other countries to address activities of smugglers, importation of contraband goods and illegal migration.
He also urged the government to strengthen the capacity of the Nigerian Customs and other relevant agencies to effectively discharge their duty of safeguarding and policing the borders.
Iche also appealed to the government to embrace speedy dialogue and resolutions that could further stimulate economic activities, enhance production, save jobs and businesses from collapse.