Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The Chairman, G.U. Okeke & Sons Limited, Chief Godwin Ubaka Okeke, has appealed to President Muhammdu Buhari to open land border as a New Year gift to poor Nigerians.
Okeke said that the land border closure disrupted legitimate economic activities of many poor Nigerians who engaged in cross border trade as life wire for their survival and the continued closure beyond January would bring more suffering and hardship for the people.
He made the appeal in a statement yesterday, saying that the prolonged land border closure could not be the open sesame to tackling persistent smuggling of goods through our porous border routes, adding, “Admittedly, these nefarious smugglings cripple our country’s economy.”
“These informal activities provide job opportunities for the sustenance of the poorest of the poor and their families and contribute in no small measures to gross domestic product of the national economy.
“The border closure is adversely affecting our boundary neighbours, other West African countries like Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali etc are all bearing the brunt. These countries are planning counter measures against Nigeria, like expelling Nigerians in their countries. Thus whatever gains we might have made by the border closure might be lost and outweighed by retaliatory counter punch.
“Mr President, I am motivated in my appeal to you to reopen the borders on account of my unbearable pity for the poor masses and the youths of this nation. I am sure you share this concern with me. Mr President’s numerous peoples oriented programmes bear witness to this fact.
“One of the ways to assists our youths is to turn them from being job seekers to job creators. I will therefore propose that the last six Months of our graduate youths service scheme participants should be for entrepreneurial, creative and innovative training for job and wealth creation.
“Deserving Youths Corps members on completion of their service year would be given start-up capitals of about a Million Naira (N1Million) each to pursue their dream projects. This scheme is similar to the excellent and applaudable work the Elumelu foundation had been doing among African youths. Thus the schemes go a great deal for the alleviation of poverty in the land.
“I want to thank Mr President for the speed with which the second Niger bridge is being built and hope that it will be concluded in the next two years for commissioning by Mr President. When completed it will alleviate the suffering of Nigerians of South-South, South East, North East, North Central and Nigerian public in general who used the bridge mainly to access their homes and businesses,” Okeke said.
He added, “However, it is generally known that there exist wealthy big time smuggling cartels with inside dealings with few bad eggs of government officials. The illegal operations of these cartels might still be on going in our numerous unmanned border points.
“This is even the more reason the government is called upon to not only weed out few corrupt officials in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies saddled with protecting our borders. But more importantly, to strengthen the capacity of customs and immigration to discharge their official duties, funding for logistics and trainings should be of top priorities. More personnel recruitments to increase Manpower, is advocated.”