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Did the Border Closure Initiative Earn Nigeria 512 Million Litres Extra?

Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria 3 mins read

Lauretta Onochie attributed the reduction in PMS importation- 512 million litres- to the border closure initiative; adding it happened in the last three months. She also said the Federal government has over 2 billion litres in reserve.

While reduction in PMS importation did occur in the third quarter of 2019, it is MISLEADING to attribute it to the border closure. This is because the seaports and pipelines were importation occurs, were not closed! More so, reduction was recorded in June- second quarter- whereas the closure commenced in the third quarter.

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NBS’ recent publication- Q3 Petroleum Report– got everyone talking. Among them was
Lauretta Onochie, aide to President Buhari on social media. She applauded the border control initiative, claiming its progress was evident.  

The same sentiment was shared by Mele Kyari– Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)- who believes it may be connected with the border closure.  

Did Nigeria actually close its borders?

Nigeria never closed its land borders per se- it only took measures to enhance security; according to reports. This was premised on checkmating acts of terrorism, banditry, smuggling and proliferation of weapons. The Federal Government released a statement to this effect on August 20th. 

The initiative was codenamed EX-SWIFT RESPONSE and comprised of several security agencies. These included the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) as well as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).  Mr Joseph Attah- Public Relations Officer, NCS- also reassured the public that the criteria for admittance into the borders were legitimate documents and identification; those without this were denied access.

Nonetheless, there are still reports of the devastating effect the border closure has had on neighbouring countries. This is owing to skyrocketing prices consequent on this restriction. Additionally, this land closure raises questions on whether Nigeria is keeping her side of the ECOWAS treaty with respect to trade and free movement. 

Alternatively, oil imports seem to be unaffected; as these happen through Nigeria’s ports where monitoring is apparently effective. 

PMS importation activity reduced in the third quarter of 2019

The NBS report revealed that Nigeria imported a total volume of 5.09 billion litres of petrol as against the 5.6 billion litres imported in Q2 2019. Additionally, it consumed less- 4.9 billion litres in Q3 2019- when compared to the 5.18 billion litres in Q2.

A look at the breakdown showed that 1.99 billion litres of petrol was imported into the country in July; 1.64 billion litres in August, which dropped to 1.46 billion litres in September.

Additionally, the report indicated that Nigeria has over 2 billion litres in reserve as at the Q3 under review.

Is the reduction in importation a result of the border closure? 

First of all, Nigeria imports finished oil products through pipelines and seaports. Nigeria never closed her seaports as we already established. While we can deduce that the claim alludes to the fact that the closure curbed illegitimate smuggling of unfinished oil products, it is still a stretch to say it is responsible for the 512 million litres saved.

It is also important to note that the reduction in fuel importation commenced in June (page 49- NBS Report). This was prior to the border closure- raising more questions… The documentation clearly shows a dip to 1.5 billion litres in June from 2.0 billion litres in May. It did, however, increase the following month- 1.99 bn litres- before dipping again in the month of August.

Therefore, it stands to reason that the recent reduction in PMS importation cannot be entirely attributed to the border closure. This is especially true as Nigeria locked down her land borders on August 22; several weeks after this decline commenced. 

Conclusion: 

It is true that fuel importation reduced by 512 million litres in the last three months (July, August and September). Also, findings show that there were over 2 billion litres in reserve. But, Lauretta said “in the last three months”, also attributing it to the border closure; the same border closure, Kyari said commenced- August 22. August 22 to September 30, is not three months! This leads to the next point that there are probably other factors to attribute the reduction in importation other than the border closure. This is also evidenced by said reduction commencing in June- prior to border closure.  

Ebere Agozie is a Senior Correspondent with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) with a staff strength of about 880, Joined in 2014 as a correspondent. Currently covering Agriculture and Environment beats from the headquarters of the Agency in Abuja. She had covered other beats including Culture and Entertainment, and Science and Technology, with reportage on different themes. Her works were aired on multiple networks through the NAN platform. She is also the winner of the 2018 COORDINATOR'S OPEN FORUM FOR AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY(OFAB) MEDIA AWARD FOR BEST PRINT REPORTER". Prior to joining NAN, she was the Operations Manager, AULIC Nigeria Limited, the concessionaire of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex - 2012; Head, Public Relations and Corporate Affairs, Aulic Nigeria Limited from 2009 to 2012. She rose from the position of the Public Relations Officer to Head of Public Affairs at FABER Expressions, a Radio/Television Production firm – 2000-2009. She is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Institute of Management and Technology(IMT), Enugu, (HND) -1998. And holds a Master of Business Administration(MBA) from the Lagos State University (LASU) - 2007.

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