Why Nigeria’s borders will remain closed for now--Oshiomole

The nation’s borders are to remain closed until neighbouring countries comply with trade protocols as provided under the agreement of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the regard.
That was the view of the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, who said he maintained the same position as his party.

Oshiomole said this during a courtesy visit to the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali ( Rtd) in Abuja.

He hailed the customs service for the action and urged other authorities to fight against allowing Nigeria to become a dumping ground for substandard goods, and added that the APC was fully aware of what he called an organised pressure to blackmail the Service to withdraw its decision on border closure.

He urged the Customs Boss not to give in to pressures from businessmen who only have their selfish interest at heart and against the overall good of the nation, as he blamed several health issues on consumption of some imported foods.

He said: “Today, we can see cancer, heart infections and other diseases ravaging our people. These are the cause of it. Rice that have been abandoned in silos abroad are repackaged and brought here.

“If our president is changing our consumption pattern, then we should support that by producing what we consume.

“This is important so that we don’t export prosperity and import poverty into the country.

“Tariff policy enforcement is Customs duty and it’s a way of protecting the economy. We’re convinced that you’re doing well. We want to publicly identify with the bold steps of the Service.

“We’ve always said we’re the Big Brother. But, we cannot continue to celebrate our foreign policy that centres on African development that has made us a dumping ground. Things have changed. States should have control over their territory. America is saying America first. It is building walls to protect its territory. China and others did the same. That is what we are doing.

“Having been victims of food poisoning via expired rice that came in through our borders, we cannot fold our arms and do nothing.

“Besides, Mr President is determined to boost employment and welfare of the masses. They are his support base. Poor rural farmers who are the majority do not have any business subsidizing the food we eat. They are into business and they should survive. No more importing what we can produce here and create a glut and the farmers  lose,” he said.

Giving his remarks, the Customs Boss said the Service recorded a monthly revenue of N115 billion in the month of September, while N9.2 billion was collected in one day as a result of the partial closure of the land borders.

He also said there has been a remarkable drop in the influx of bandits, arms, tramadol and other prohibited items,  but noted that attempts  made to address the perennial menace had not yielded much results.

He said: “We’ve done everything in terms of deployment and redeployment and using the little technologies we have but it has not worked.

“We felt we’ve been so nice with our neighbors and yet they find it hard to adhere to the transit goods protocol.

“We gave Benin Republic 10 Toyota Hilux vehicles to help escort goods meant for Nigeria and deliver it at the Krake border. They complied for only a week and stopped.

“We’ve signed many MoU with them and none was followed through. We went to Benin for four days and adjusted the protocol and other agreements and yet we didn’t get the right results.

“The parboiled rice that lands in Benin Republic is meant for Nigeria. All francophone nations don’t eat it. They are now the third highest importer of parboiled rice and yet they’re just 12 million people.

“Worse still, 90% of imported rice are expired. It’s not good for consumption and its worsened by the means of smuggling. Using dirty boats, canoes, rickety vehicles and all that.

“We can’t continue to eat bad rice. The cost of producing our local rice is N15,000 a bag but how can they sell cheaper? Again, one bag of maize is N4,000 but one bag of fertilizer is N5,000, so how can they break even? This closure is expected to force Benin Republic and other to obey protocols we signed. Until we see genuine changes, this exercise will continue,” he said.
With additional information from The SUN.