Nigeria's parliament has opposed the government's ban on vehicle imports through land borders and has asked the government to undo the ban.
- Senate MPs criticised the policy during a plenary on 11 January 2017. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu said the policy would cut legitimate jobs that depend on vehicle imports and affect Nigerians unfavourably given the struggling economy. Senator Ali Ndume of the All Progressives Congress (APC) also said his constituents had urged him to reject it.
- The government banned vehicle imports through land borders in December 2016 in order to curb smuggling. The ban took effect from 1 January this year, but by then many vehicles ordered beforehand were still trapped at the country's land border with neighbouring Benin because the importers had not cleared them.
- Most importers prefer to bring vehicles to Nigeria through Benin's port and then via the land border because it is less expensive this way than through the Nigerian port in Lagos, where import duty and other clearing costs are higher.
- An estimated 80% of vehicles imported into Benin end up in Nigeria and most of them are smuggled in through murky, unofficial crossing points along the land border1. The government has been unable to stem this problem for decades due to poor border security and corruption involving border officials.
- The ban has been criticised by stakeholders such as the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents, which said half a million people could lose their jobs as a result2.
Banning vehicle imports may stem the flow of vehicles through the border, but smuggling will likely persist as in the case of the government's ban on rice imports through the same border last year, because underlying factors (e.g. corruption) have not been adequately addressed. The import ban via land borders has been widely unpopular and we expect the government will eventually relax the ban in order to boost political capital ahead of election campaigns beginning next year. Meanwhile, the parliamentary opposition towards this policy of banning vehicular land imports doesn't only indicate the MPs' lack of faith in this policy, but it also shows the growing independence of the legislature , its reflection of the will of the people and visibly, the strengthening of Nigeria's democracy.
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