ABUJA, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Former Ghanaian president John Mahama has called on the Nigerian government to reopen its land borders so that economic activities can effectively continue within the West African region.
Mahama, speaking at an event in Nigeria's southwestern state of Lagos on Tuesday, opined that the total closure of the land borders, especially that between Nigeria and Benin, was beginning to take its toll on both small and medium-scale businesses in Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, and Togo that relied on inter-country trade.
"Also, I am sure that businesses in Nigeria that rely on supplies from these countries are also suffering. With the signing of the joint border task force agreement between Nigeria and her neighbors, I will like to take this opportunity to appeal to Nigeria to open up her borders so that economic activities can resume," said the former Ghanaian leader who once chaired the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, is home to the headquarters of the ECOWAS Commission. Mahama said with the recent border closure causing an international furor, the objective principles for the establishment of ECOWAS, which was partly to foster the ideal of collective self-sufficiency for its member-states, might be defeated.
"As a trading union, it is also meant to create a single, large trading bloc through economic cooperation. Integrated economic activities as envisaged in the area revolve around but are not limited to industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial issues, social as well as cultural matters," he said.
The Nigerian government, which ordered the closure of the land borders since August, said it took the decision for checking smuggling and other security reasons.