The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said on Sunday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed the Federal Government’s decision to close Nigeria’s borders because it discovered that the step was not punitive.
The federal goverment had insisted the borders would remain closed until Nigeria and its neighbours agree on existing ECOWAS protocol on movement.
Ahmed, who addressed journalists at the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington, United States, said the measure was designed to restore Nigeria’s relationship with her neighbours based on agreement by all parties.
According to her, President Muhammadu Buhari was reluctant to approve the closure because he was mindful of the adverse effect the move would have on “our neighbours’ economies.”
She said there were several discussions between Nigeria and her neighbours toward securing compliance to the rules, “but things got worse.”
The minister insisted that the Nigerian government would ensure “our neighbours and trading partners” on the continent play by the rules now that the country has become fully committed to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
She said: “Of course, there will be an economic impact on the side of our neighbours due to the border closure, that is a consequence of it.
“In a manner of speaking, the IMF supports the border closure that we have done because they understand that the closure was not meant to be punitive.
“It was meant for us to restore our relationship with our neighbours back to the commitments that we made.
“The commitment that we have among these countries is that goods can come through their ports to Nigeria.
“They are supposed to come in sealed containers escorted to Nigeria for the Nigeria Customs Service to inspect the goods and charge them.
“But that is not what is happening. They allow containers to be opened, and also allow goods to be smuggled beyond the formal borders through several illegal routes.”