Former Director of Kenyan Anti-Corruption Commission Prof. PLO Lumumba has maintained that the federal government is too big to be threatened by smaller neighbouring countries like Benin to result in the closure of land borders.
Fielding questions from newsmen during the 6 Goddy Jidenma foundation public lecture in Lagos, Lumumba who was obviously peeved by the closure said: ” I can understand why Nigeria is closing its borders but I am of the view that Nigeria is too big to be threatened by Benin.
The apparent lose which we are seeing in the early days which involves abuse of Nigeria’s laws can be dealt with through regulations. If regulations are put in place in a proper manner there would be no need to close the borders.
“There are three ways to deal with it; first the short-term way of dealing with it addressing the regulatory issues which present themselves as an existential threat to Nigeria’s market.
“The medium-term is to look at the movement of goods and determine their source of origin so that Nigerian laws are not abused and to protect the Nigerian industries be it agriculture and textile.
“In the long-term, we must look at the African continental free trade area deliberate on the destroyer of these artificial boundaries for free trade to take place.
“I agree with the government that when borders are porous, so individual take advantage of it to commit criminality, but yet, I believe borders can be open without being porous.
In other words, you institute measures that ensure that malcontent are removed from free entry and yet you do not undermine trade. I understand that this lesson that has been leant now will help Nigeria to control its boundaries without undermining trade going forward”.
While reacting to Benin and Niger not complying with the MoU signed with the Nigerian government in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 as reported by Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Muhammed, as well as the ECOWAS transit protocol, Lumumba said: “If there is Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed, Fidelity to the MoU is critical.
“If they don’t comply with the MoU, then there must be consequences. But these consequences must be the one brought to bear so that not everybody suffers with those who have not complied.
” In other words, compliance to MoU is critical for the benefit of all”. Lumumba maintained.
Among the personalities present at the event were: Prof. Pat Utomi; Mrs Nike Akande; Prof. Joy Ogwu; Justice Rose Ukeje among a host of others.