PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday told his colleague, Patrice Talon from the Benin Republic that Nigeria can no longer allow smuggling of agricultural commodities such as rice into the country.
He explained that the Nigeria-Benin border was partially shut due to the persistent smuggling activities.
Buhari disclosed this on the sideline of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), held in Yokohama, Japan.
“Now that our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms, and the country has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves, we cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue,” says Buhari in a statement issued by Femi Adesina, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.
He said the smuggling activity is threatening the self-sufficiency efforts of the Federal Government, especially in rice production, which his administration committed to checking through the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP).
According to him, the limited closure of the country’s western border was to allow Nigeria’s security forces develop a strategy on how to stem the dangerous trend and its wider ramifications.
Porous borders lead to an influx of substandard farm produce, illegal immigrants and weapons, a source told The Nigerian Tribune.
PMB: “Our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms, and ???????? has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves, we cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue.”
— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) August 28, 2019
However, Buhari said he had considered concerns of the Beninoise President and as such the border would soon be opened. It also disclosed plans to meet both presidents of Benin and Niger to further discuss sustainable ways to check illegal imports across the borders.