The Nigerian president has opened the land border at Seme, Illela, Maigatari, and Mfun.
The land borders were closed to goods in August 2019, with partial openings and closings for people prompted by the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2020.
In a recent meeting with the ruling APC party chieftans, President Buhari had promised the border would be opened ‘as soon as possible’. Presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu said that the ‘message had sunk in’ to neighbouring countries used as a base for smuggling into Nigeria.
That message was largely intended for Benin.
“A number of Nigerian business leaders have been complaining about Cotonou’s attitude. They claim their trucks going to Benin are overtaxed at the border,” says a Beninese businessman with links in Nigeria. “In addition, businessman Aliko Dangote, who bought the Nigerian government’s shares in the Lafarge group, wants to sell his cement in Benin, which Talon is prohibiting.”
No surprise then that Dangote emerged as a mediator between Buhari and Benin president Patrice Talon.
In September, Dangote flew Talon and the Benin finance minister Romuald Wadagni to Abuja for talks about re-opening the border.