…As Enugu Rep, Lagos law maker want border closure sustained***
A cleric, Asuquo Udobong, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has urged the Federal Government to reconsider its decision on temporary closure of the nation’s land borders, even as a House of Representatives member, Simon Atigwe (PDP-Enugu) urges the Federal Government to sustain the closure of land borders beyond two years to enable Nigerians reap the benefits.
Udobong, the Agege Stake President of the church, said on Sunday at the Annual Conference in Lagos, that border closure should not be to inflict pains but should focus on ways of improving the welfare of Nigerians.
According to him, in as much as the church will support government policies that will boost the nation’s economy, such policies should be to benefit the masses.
“Every government has a policy it wants to pursue that will help in the process of reprogramming or restructuring the economy.
“The Federal Government should always think of putting the welfare of the citizens into consideration.
“Government should also ensure that while implementing policies, the masses should be the main focus.
“If closing of borders will help to strengthen our economy, as a church, we will obey the laws of the land, but it should be done in a way that will not impose further hardship on the citizens,” Udobong said.
In his remarks, Elder Marcus Nash, the West Africa Area President of the church, called for love amongst Nigerians to overcome the nation’s insecurity challenges and other vices.
“We should love the Lord thy God with all our hearts and mights, Nigerians should love thy neighbours as yourself.
“If we keep these two commandments and live honestly, righteously, humbly, and we think of others before ourselves, Nigeria will overcome its numerous challenges,” Nash said.
In the meantime, a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Simon Atigwe (PDP-Enugu), and a Lagos law maker, Mr Bisi Yusuf have given kudos to the Federal Government on land borders closure, urging the Government to sustain the closure of land borders beyond two years to enable Nigerians reap the benefits.
Atigwe, who made the call in an interview with journalists on Sunday in Abuja, said that the closure was the best policy so far put in place by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The lawmaker, who represents Igbo-Eze North/Udenu Federal Constituency of Enugu State, said that apart from helping to checkmate the influx of arms which fuelled insecurity, it would compel Nigerians to go back to agriculture.
“Personally, I think that is the best decision so far taken by the President as far as the economy of Nigeria is concerned.
“That is because you do not just allow your country to be flooded with goods from other countries, making your own citizens very lazy; making them consumers only and not producers.
“I think it does not help anybody saying that borders should be opened to importers anyhow while smuggling goes on uncontrolled.
“Apart from making us lazy, we are still losing income; we are losing revenue because all these people smuggling goods through road borders are not paying anything.
“But if things should be coming in through the ports like the airports and the seaports, then, there will be scrutiny of all the things coming in.
“Apart from the revenue, you also safeguard your people because these smugglers bring in arms and ammunition and all sorts of dangerous weapons that bandits are using,” he said.
The lawmaker said that he was in full support of closure of borders as it was for national interest.
According to him, China is doing well, today because it closed all its borders for 50 years or so.
Speaking in the same vein, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr Bisi Yusuf maintained that the closure of land borders will end the menace of turning Nigeria to a dumping ground of all kinds of fake and expired products.
Yusuf, APC representing Alimosho Constituency 1, made the assertion on Sunday in Lagos, describing it as the best thing that can happen to the country now.
“The closure of the nation’s land border will curb the menace of turning the country into a dumping ground.
“We go as far as importing tomatoes, toothpicks and other items God has blessed us with, we import them to the country.
“Not only grains and domestics products are being smuggling to the country, but also weapons and dangerous items due to the porosity of our land borders.
“We are importing it to the country and it’s not coming directly to our ports.
“If those goods should really be coming directly to our ports, we can tax and collect our money, but not smuggling from the neighbouring countries,” he said.
The lawmaker added that some criminal-minded people also took advantages of the porous borders to smuggle weapons into the country, thereby posing security challenge to the government.
“We normally shout that our borders are porous; when you get to United States or Canada or anywhere in the world, there is nothing like illegal smuggling of arms.
“We are not closing the borders against the foreigners, they can come in, but all we are saying is that, we are not allowing any illegal goods to enter our country again.
“No country will allow that. So, that is what we have been saying about it and it is good.
“We have farmers in this country, the big time farmers that can plant and produce rice for our local consumption,” he added.
Yusuf also said that the borders’ closure would allow and create big markets for the local rice.
“The demand is now increasing at the market, people are buying it and we are eating it,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari had extended the closure of Nigeria’s land borders with neighbouring countries until Jan. 31.
Land borders with countries including Benin and Niger have been partially closed since Aug. 20 in a move to curb the smuggling of rice and other commodities.