The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says N1.45 trillion worth of goods are smuggled into Nigeria annually from Benin Republic.
The Acting Managing Director of NEPZA, David Nongo, said he sourced the data from the World Bank.
He said this at the Two-Day National Workshop on the Role of Maritime in the AfCFTA Agreement with the theme: ‘AfCFTA: Boosting Nigeria’s Economy for Sustainable Development.’
The workshop was organised by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) in Lagos on Wednesday.
He lamented the menace of smuggling of goods through the Benin Republic corridor into Nigeria saying “it is of negative economic influence to the nation”.
According to the MD, who was represented at the event by Simon Tsuwan, “a recent World Bank report stated that about N1.45 trillion worth of goods are smuggled into Nigeria annually through the Benin border alone.”
“This prompted Africa’s foremost industrialist, Alhaji Aliko Dangote to lament that there is no country that can survive with Benin Republic as a neighbour.
“And he went further to call for drastic action so as to save the Nigerian economy. The President Buhari government has taken the bold decision of closing the land borders and although there have been protests from majority ECOWAS member states. Nigeria insists that the closure would remain in force till January 31st, 2019.”
Mr Nongo said the border closure would help to boost local manufacturing, job creation and economic growth by checking the smuggling of goods into the country.
He further stated that the closure would also help to increase Nigeria’s global competitiveness as well as attract investors.
He said the difficulty the authority would have had was ‘infrastructural deficits’ but added that the agency is already updating and providing infrastructure.
“We are deploying technologies and New Media to improve service delivery, digitalising our operations and simplifying procedures etc all in a bid to get the most from the AfCFTA,” he said.