Friday, November 22, 2019 8:17 am
A Panel of Discussants on Thursday expressed divergent views on the closure of the country’s borders, arguing whether the closure was in the best interest of Nigerians.
The stakeholders 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.
Also speaking on the closure of the border was Mrs Yinka Ogundinmu representing the state governor,she described mass media as a tool which capture both sounds and imagss, most especially the television aspect as a trusted platform of communication between the government and the people.
She also noted that Ogun state is the best place to discuss the closure of the border as it is the Gateway to other state and closer to Benin Republic,and some other countries.
“As an administration that believes in inclusiveness and participatory Governance, we see those in the media industry as strategic partners in actualisation of our programmes, policies and objectives. Through them, the objectives of our administration have been well promoted and dissemminated to the people across the state and they have also been telling us and calling our attention to other areas where we need to do more.
Being a tool of the mass media that captures sound and images, Television remains a trusted platform for people both in Government and outside the Government. It serves as an eyes of the people in places and countries where they have never been to and instrument of dissemination of Government’s achievements to the people.”
Our administration has been making use of this powerful tool to project some of our people oriented programs which include palliative works and major road constructions going on in different parts of the the state.
Aside from that, some primary schools are currently undergoing rehabilitation across the state, with about 90 out of the 236 promised going through completion stages. People now have the opportunity of seeing what they looked like before the intervention of this administration and how the dilapidated classrooms have been transformed. No doubt, Television promotes believability and originality.” She added
Talking about the topic of this year’s World Television Day in Ogun State: Pains and Gains of Border Closure, I will say there is no other place where this topic can be better discussed in this country than Ogun State.
This is because, Ogun State is the Gateway State to other West African Countries, it serves as the link to Lagos, the Commercial nerve centre of the Country, houses the largest Industrial Estate with concentration of grade A industries and has many farmlands and farmers specialized in food and livestock production.
Over the period when the land borders have been closed by the federal Government, we have received complaint from traditional rulers, residents and people living around border towns. People of Idiroko, Agosasa, Ipokia, Ijoun, Imeko, Ilara among others have complained of economic activities being at its lowest ebb and calling for reopening of the border.”
They say some local industries in the areas depend on selling of their products to people in Benin republic but since the border have been closed they say they have not been making money. ”
But on the sweet side, we have heard from some local manufacrers that things have changed for the better since the border was closed. For example, the Poultry Farmers Association of Nigeria had their annual poultry show recently in Abeokuta here and they all affirmed that the closure of the borders has created a boom in the industry. They say they are unable to meet demands of Nigerians and they are currently expanding their businesses. Same thing applies to rice farmers.
These farmers called on Government to further assist them and many unemployed graduates to make use of the opportunity to produce what people want and make legitimate money instead of searchibg for jobs or venturing into smuggling.
Let me emphasise that our administration will always support things that will make life more meaningful for the people of Ogun State. We are always conscious of the objectives of the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and we are in support of his purposeful leadership, Programmes and policies.”
We understand the plights of our people in the border areas and we assure them that we are working with the federal government on how to make life more abundance for them.
It should be noted also that this administration has taken advantage of this situation to encourage mass production of made in Nigerian products, create more jobs, encourage farmers and boost small and medium scale businesses in the state.
The Chairman the Consolidated Chapel, Kazeem 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.”