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Agbakoba counter Okonjo on border reopening


Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has urged the federal government to disregard the “liberal and open borders” ideas posited by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) during her recent visit.

According to Agbakoba, Nigeria must, instead, adopt a trade policy that protects its ailing economy.

In a press statement made available on Saturday evening, Agbakoba noted that while he has huge respect for the DG of WTO, her advise on reopening of the border are ill-timed as it will make the country more import dependent.

His statement reads, “Nigeria has no current Trade policy and Dr Okonjo Iweala seems to promote liberal and open borders. The problem is that we will remain consumers of imported products and cannot develop our economy to boost production and give jobs to the over 25 million unemployed.

“While we must balance import policy with local production policy, we must heed the warning of wise economists that we cannot develop unless our trade policy is designed to promote local industries.

Read also: Agbakoba writes Buhari, advocates for regional autonomy, devolution of powers

“I hesitate to compliment Trump’s America First trade policy but Trump understood the need to protect the US by discouraging over dependence on imports.

“Nigeria produces crude but imports petrol. We produce cocoa but import cocoa powder. We have Tin, Gold and Iron but import the finished products In billions!

“We closed our Benin border to imports and made 12 billion a day internally. It was a strong trade policy to produce rice locally that has made us near self sufficient.

“Now, we are growing tomato, corn, beans, etc because we are discouraging imports.

“Nigerians be wise. We must support MADE IN NIGERIA. I propose we adopt a new trade policy with strong trade laws to protect our ailing economy. Nigeria will be transformed by a Made in Nigeria Trade Policy.”