The National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr Adams Oshiomhole has hailed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over the recent closure of land borders, urging that the momentum be sustained until neighbouring nations respect various trade protocols with Nigeria.
This is as the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali says the partial shutdown has led to one of its highest monthly revenue of N115 billion generated in September and N9.2 billion generated in one day.
He also said there has been a remarkable drop in the influx of bandits, arms, tramadol and other prohibited items.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to the Customs boss, Oshiomhole said the party has observed the positive changes the closure has had on the economy, charging various authorities to ensure Nigeria does not become a dumping ground for various substandard goods in its efforts to retain its title as the big brother of Africa.
He said the party was fully aware of what he termed an organized pressure to blackmail the Service to rescind its decision on border closure.
While urging the Customs boss not to succumb to such pressure, the APC Chairman said Nigeria’s national policy cannot be premised on cheap poisonous foods that are imported by Shylock Nigerian businessmen in cahoot with their counterparts overseas.
He said: “Today, we can see cancer, heart infections dand 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’s 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. consume.
“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 loses,” he said.
In his remarks, the Customs Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali described as the biggest challenge of the Service.
He said various attempts have been made to address the perennial menace which have yielded insufficient results.
He said: “We’ve done everything in terms of deployment and redeployment and using the little technologies we have bbut 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.
On the raid on car marts, Ali said about 90% of imported vehicles have either underpaid or totally evaded Customs duties, emphasizing that the exercise will be sustained.