We Shut Borders Due To Influx Of Arms, Hard Drugs, Buhari Tells Akufo-Addo

President Buhari with Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo during a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the Uk-Africa Summit on 20th Jan 2020

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to defend the closure of the nation’s borders.

According to him, the partial closure of the borders was not caused solely because food products, particularly rice, were being smuggled into Nigeria, but also because arms and ammunition, as well as hard drugs were being ferried into the country.

The president said this on Monday at a bilateral meeting in London, on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020 with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana.

He said he could not keep his eyes open, and watch youths being destroyed through cheap hard drugs, and compromised security caused by unbridled influx of small arms.

“When most of the vehicles carrying rice and other food products through our land borders are intercepted, you find cheap hard drugs, and small arms, under the food products. This has terrible consequences for any country,” President Buhari said.

He said it was regrettable that the partial border closure was having “negative economic impact on our neighbours,” but added that “we cannot leave our country, particularly the youths, endangered.”

Speaking further, the President said the Sahel region was awash with small arms, which accounts for severe security challenges in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.

“We are in fact the biggest victims,” he lamented.

On the time frame for reopening the borders, President Buhari said it would not happen till the final report of a committee set up on the matter was submitted and considered.

“We will get things sorted out. Our farmers, especially those who grow rice, now have a market, and are happy, and we are also concerned about hard drugs and weapons. Once the committee comes up with its recommendations, we will sit and consider them,” the President said.

President Akufo-Addo, while showing understanding of the need for Nigeria to protect her citizens, pleaded for “an expedited process, because the Nigerian market is significant for certain categories of business people in Ghana.”

Border Closure Not Meant To Punish Our Neighbours, Says Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the partial closure of Nigeria’s borders is not meant to punish her neighbours, but to strengthen the country’s security and economy.

In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari told a select group of the Nigerian Community in the United Kingdom that the period of closure will be used for stock-taking on threats to the nation’s security and economy.

He noted that Nigerian farmers have been celebrating the closure which has drastically reduced the smuggling of agricultural produce as well as arms and ammunition.

President Buhari attributed the country’s virtual food security position to the “very good last three rainy seasons;” the federal government’s reduction in the price of fertilizers by 50 percent and the presidential directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria not to give foreign exchange for food imports thereby saving the nations billions of naira.

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Anthony Joshua Presents Heavyweight Titles To Buhari In UK

Commending Nigerians in the Diaspora for their huge home remittances – more than $25 billion in 2018 – the President also lauded their individual performances in their various fields of expertise.

Explaining the achievements of his administration in implementing its three-point campaign agenda by focusing on fixing the economy, providing security and tackling corruption, the President said Nigeria’s “huge, vibrant youth population” have been encouraged to go back to the farms and are “living decent and respectable lifestyles.”

On security, he said “it is common sense that you can only run the country if it is secured,” adding that the country “has not done badly in the North East.”

Describing the havoc done by corruption to the image and economy of Nigeria as “terrible,” President Buhari said that his administration has now focused on retrieving stolen fixed assets and returning the proceeds of the sale “to the treasury through the Treasury Single Account (TSA),” so that nobody can return them back to the convicts even after his tenure.

Border Closure: FG’s Ban On Foreign Rice Yielding Positive Results, Says Gbajabiamila

 

The Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila has said the Federal Government’s ban on foreign rice is yielding the desired results.

Speaking in Lagos at his annual End of the Year Grassroots Empowerment Programme on Sunday, the Speaker said the masses are now forced to now consume locally farmed products, especially Nigerian rice following the closure of the nation’s land borders.

“I must say the impact of closing Nigeria’s borders to foreign rice is yielding results. I am sure so many farmers are now smiling to the bank.

“The volume of Christmas rice sales made by Nigerian farmers speaks to the emerging culture of eating what we grow,” a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker quoted Gbajabiamila as saying.

The lawmaker also reiterated the commitment of the Ninth Assembly to meet up the aspirations of their constituents.

READ ALSO: I Wasn’t Elected To Fight The Executive But To Collaborate, Says Gbajabiamila

In doing so, he noted that the legislature would continue to work with the executive arm to bring more developmental projects to them.

He however denied claims by some Nigerians that the current National Assembly is a rubber stamp of the executive arm, stressing that good collaboration between the two arms is always in the best interest of Nigerians.

“People, critics and people of other parties have said the 9th Assembly is a rubber stamp to the Executive. They may have told you that too.

“The fact is that the National Assembly is not a rubber stamp. This is a National Assembly that represents the interests of the people. The people of Surulere did not elect me to fight the Executive but to engage and collaborate with stakeholders to bring dividends of democracy,” he stated.

On the issue of the budget, he explained that the nation has returned back to the January to December budget cycle.

Border Closure: We Cannot Allow Neighbouring Countries Undermine Our Productive Industry, Says Sanusi

Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi

 

The Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, on Thursday said the Federal Government’s decision to close its border is among measures to preserve the nation’s foreign policy in the national interest.

According to him, the border closure will protect Nigeria’s productive industry from destruction.

Sanusi disclosed this at the launch of the maiden foreign policy journal by the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Lawan Urges Service Chiefs To Repel Attacks, Assault By Bandits

“If we have an industrial policy that is aimed at protecting the productive sector of Nigeria against unfair competition, we cannot allow our neighbours to open their door to this unfair competition and through the backdoor undermine our industry, this is extremely important,” the Emir said.

He added that the decision was meant to stop neighbouring countries from violating the ECOWAS protocol, given that Nigeria was fast becoming a dumping ground.

The border closure, he concluded, will not only address the problem of smuggling petroleum products and rice but also prevent a situation where Nigeria is turned into a dumpsite for dangerous drugs.

Filling Stations Along Nigeria-Niger Border Smuggle Fuel, Says FG

 

The Federal Government has revealed that over 50 percent of filling stations located along the Magama Jibia/Niger border owned by foreigners are set up solely for the purpose of smuggling petroleum products.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed disclosed this after he led a powerful delegation on an assessment tour to inspect the activities of the joint border patrol at sector 4 of the border drill in Katsina state.

Mr Mohammed added that since the closure of the filling station, the smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria has greatly been reduced.

“There are hundreds of filling stations along the border; we counted many as we drove to the border this morning. They were set up purposely for smuggling.

“They don’t sell the fuel consignment they receive to the public, 50 percent of them are owned by foreigners.

“Now that they are closed, we have recorded over 30% in domestic fuel consumption,” he maintained.

READ ALSO: Tension In Ondo As Policeman Allegedly Shoots, Kills Truck Driver

He explained that the four sectors where the drill is currently ongoing have recorded highest successes in terms of illegal migration, cattle rustling, kidnapping, banditry, and arms smuggling.

“We have recorded over 30 percent increase in revenue since the drill.

“Gentlemen, before the drill, the borders contributed nothing to the revenue, nothing.

“Customs was recording about N4.5 billion daily, but since the closure, the figure has increased to between N5 and N8 billion daily.

“The North-West sector, of the four sectors affected by the drill, has recorded the highest success in terms of reduction of illegal migration, thanks to the drill.”

The minister also added that the exercise is not targeted at any region in the country, neither is it designed to cripple businesses in any part of the country.

He maintained that since the exercise commenced over a few months ago, local businesses across the country have continued to thrive, as farmers and rice millers, in particular, are now having huge turnover.

Mr Mohammed added that Nigeria will continue to engage with neighbouring countries to ensure that all the concerns that led to exercise swift response are fully addressed.

Buhari Plans Strict Reforms To Revive Agriculture Sector

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he plans to curb smuggling activities through Nigeria’s borders in a bid to rekindle the agriculture sector.

President Buhari told a delegation of Katsina State Elders Forum who paid him a visit at his country home in Daura, that the new directive will save the country billions of naira on import bills.

A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, added that just like the successes recorded from the border drill on rice and petroleum products, the interest of farmers must be protected.

He told the delegation that he intends forging ahead with poverty alleviation schemes and the agricultural and livestock reforms which his administration started during the first term.

”Farmers must be protected. Dishonesty is deep-rooted in the country. Otherwise, the border closer would not have been warranted,” he said.

READ ALSO: Filling Stations Along Nigeria-Niger Border Smuggle Fuel, Says FG

President Buhari commended the actions taken by the President of Niger Republic, Muhammadou Youssoufou, including the dismissal of officials and a ban on use of the country as a dumping ground for Nigeria-bound smuggled goods, adding that the measures taken by the President of Niger were helpful and supportive.

He acknowledged the hardship of border communities following the ban on sale of fuel at stations 20 kilometres to the border, a restriction that also saw to the closure of all fuel stations in his native home, Daura.

Earlier in his remark, the representative of the Chairman of the Elders Forum, Alhaji Aliyu Saulawa, drew a long list of requests which included a special intervention fund to assist victims of attacks, completion of the 10 megawatts wind power project in the state, setting up of a North-West Development Commission and setting up of Ruga farm settlements, which he said were urgently needed.

President Buhari promised to look at the requests, adding that his constituency is the whole country, and he is determined to be fair to all.

FG Says Border Closure Is Reason For Rising Food Inflation

 

Nigeria’s recent border closure drill has been linked to the recent rise in headline inflation which is currently at 11.61 per cent as of October 2019.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, briefed State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, that recent figures from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) were noticed since September.

She explained that the increase in food inflation witnessed in September and October is linked to the increase in prices of food, propelled by the border closure.

“Headline inflation declined for several months before we noticed an uptake in the last two months and now headline inflation is at 11.61 percent as at the end of October.

“The slight increase between September and October is due to increases in food inflation ascribed to increase in prices of cereals, rice, and fish.

“Part of the reason is the border closure; the closure is very short and temporary and the increase is just by 2 basis points,” she explained.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Imports $600m Cassava Products Annually – CBN

Mrs. Ahmed pointed out that discussions with neighbouring countries on the border closure have advanced and the Federal Government is expecting every party to respect the protocols they are all committed to.

She stressed that the government is making sure that the economy does not suffer once the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) comes into effect.

“The border closure is temporary; we have really advanced on the discussion between ourselves and our neighbours and we expect that the outcomes of those discussions and agreement are that each party will respect the protocols that we all committed to and then the borders will be open again.

“What we are doing is important for our economy as we signed on to the AfCFTA, we have to make sure that we put in place, checks to make sure that our economy is not overrun as a result of the coming into effect of the AfCFTA and that’s why we have this border closure to return to the discipline of respecting the protocols that we are all committed to.”

Border Closure: Inflation To Moderate In Three Months, Says Emefiele

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele has said that the rise in inflation is temporary and will go down aggressively in another three to four months.

A report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed inflation figures at a 17-month high, rise to 11.61% in October.

READ ALSO: FG To Regulate Internet Broadcast Content

Mr. Emefiele in an exclusive interview with Channels Television said that the attribution of the rise to border closure cannot be totally ruled out, but the benefits are more.

“Inflation goes up from 11.22 to 11.61 between September and October, and mainly it’s because of the border closure.

“I am not going to entirely disagree that yes, because of border closure that has resulted in some supply shortages because of goods that are being dumped into the country.

“Who are those benefitting, in as much as I don’t like the fact that prices went up momentarily from September and October, the beneficiaries are Nigerians and companies where we have seen a situation where people have jobs, farmers who produce poultry and those benefitting from import of cars legitimately.”

The CBN Governor expressed his displeasure at the inflationary pressure but was quick to assure that the trend will witness an immediate turnaround.

“In as much as I do not like the fact that the inflationary pressures are coming up right now, I’m also saying that it will moderate and very quickly, maximum of another 3 to 4 months aggressively downwards.”

Border Closure: Senate To Summon Customs CG Over Ban On Fuel Supply

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan,

 

The Senate on Wednesday mandated its committee on Customs to summon the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Hameed Ali over the suspension of the supply of petroleum products to border towns.

The Upper Chamber issued this directive after considering a motion moved by Senator Odebiyi Akinremi, APC Ogun West, who asked that the senate revisit the suspension order placed by the customs service on the supply of petroleum products to border communities.

READ ALSO: Senate Approves Payment Of N10bn Loan To Kogi State

Senator Akinremi said the directive by the Customs Service is causing a huge scarcity of petroleum products in the border towns as well raising the cost of fuel astronomically.

The Senate therefore mandated its Committee on Customs to summon the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs, with a view of working out a viable economic framework/policy that could further mitigate the sufferings of the people, and communities across the border areas.

They also resolved to call on the CG to urgently explore the use of modern technological devices in the tracking, management, and scheduling of petroleum trucks that undertake business along the border towns.

According to the lawmakers, a comprehensive audit of all petroleum stations and suppliers across the border communities is needed.

Reps Ask Customs To Remove Ban On Petrol Supply To Border Communities

The House of Representatives on Tuesday asked the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to lift the ban on the distribution of petroleum products to fuel stations at towns and communities within 20 kilometres of border area in Nigeria.

The House in a motion moved by Representative Sada Soli said the ban is causing untold hardship on people living in these border communities, including Nigerians.

READ ALSO: Senate Introduces Bill To Prohibit Hate Speech

According to Soli, the order by the customs boss contravenes the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act.

Other lawmakers who seconded Soli’s motion agreed that the border closure is already biting hard on these communities, and denying them petroleum products. They added that this will only worsen the situation.

The NCS in a bid to tackle illegal smuggling had placed a ban on the sale of petroleum products within 20 kilometres of any border area in Nigeria.

Comptroller-General of the Customs Service, Colonel Hameed Ali (retd.) last week directed that no petroleum products should be supplied to any filling station within 20 kilometres to the border.

‘Warehouses Along The Border Must Be Dismantled’: FG Gives Conditions For Reopening Borders

The Federal Government on Monday gave conditions that ECOWAS countries have to meet for Nigeria to reopen its borders.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, gave the conditions related to the movement of goods and persons during the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Temporary Partial Closure of Land Borders in Abuja on Monday.

The conditions include respect for the rules of origins with regard to the movement of goods and shutting down warehouses along the border.

“We absolutely insist on the dismantling of all the warehouses along our common borders,” Onyeama told journalists in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

“No longer will we accept anybody coming into the country through land borders with anything other than recognised”.

The conditions which come months after Nigeria shut its borders with Benin and Niger, citing massive smuggling activities, especially of rice, taking place on that corridor, will be presented to the countries in two weeks, according to the Minister.

Apart from demanding the dismantling of warehouses, the Federal Government is also going tough on the repackaging of imported goods to pass them as local ones (from ECOWAS countries).

Onyeama said, “On the transportation of goods within ECOWAS and across borders, we will now insist on proper recognised packaging of those goods.

“No longer will we have goods, you know, of all shapes and sizes just going through the borders. We are going to have accepted conditions for the packaging of goods that will be transported by road across our borders.”

The accepted conditions include respecting the rules of origin. This, according to the Minister, will help prevent dumping of goods in Nigeria.

“(For) Goods predominantly produced in ECOWAS member states, the rules of origin must be satisfied. So, we have to avoid any possibility of dumping,” he said.

“If goods are produced in ECOWAS member states, those goods must be majorly produced in those states. If they are coming from outside ECOWAS, the value addition made by an ECOWAS country must be over 50 percent.”

Border Closure Extension: Policy Comes Without Any Palliative For Local Businesses – NECA

File: Timothy Olawale NECA DG

 

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has expressed concerns over the announcement extending the time for border closure, saying the government has not provided a palliative for legitimate local businesses.

The Federal Government extended the duration of the ongoing ‘Exercise Swift Response’ across the nation’s borders till January 31, 2020, an exercise that started in August 2019.

In a statement by its Director-General, Mr. Timothy Olawale stressed that the policy was focused more on income generation and the federal government should take a broader look at the fundamentals of its decision to close the borders.

“While we acknowledge the trade imbalance between Nigeria and its neighbours and the security challenges facing the country currently, the citizen’s welfare and business prosperity should not be sacrificed for the inefficiency of our border policing.

“Despite the many merits that come with the border-closure, we are concerned that the policy comes without any palliative for legitimate local businesses, which negate the attempts at alleviating poverty and reduce unemployment. The continuous closure also possesses the capacity to render many Nigerians jobless and hungry.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria Extends Border Closure Till January 2020

Mr. Olawale reiterated the need to address the fundamental challenge of smuggling and insecurity while noting that businesses should not be sacrificed because of the inefficiencies of the Customs Service to protect the borders.

“The policy was more consistent with income generation and not in agreement with the harsh effect it has on households, businesses and investors’ confidence in general. Since the advent of this policy, prices of goods, especially food items had increased tremendously, further making the average Nigerian vulnerable as 70% of poor households budget is spent on food.

“Government must take a broader look at the fundamentals of its assumptions that led to the decision to close the borders. The government should not stifle legitimate businesses because of the inefficiency of the Customs Service to keep the borders safe.

“If the borders are safe and the Government enforces the bilateral and multilateral agreements it had signed with other countries, there won’t need to close the borders. Efforts should be stepped up to equip the Customs to live up to its responsibilities of protecting the borders and nip smuggling in the bud.”

He further stated that “at a time like this when unemployment rate is on the increase (23.1%), underemployment at 16.6% and expected to reach 33.5% by 2020, inflation rate now on upward trend, Government’s fiscal and monetary policies should focus on sustainable enterprise, job creation and rapid economic development premised on wide-range consultation with critical stakeholders.”