Pastor G.O. Akinola, a customs agent, has warned the Federal Government to brace up for a new wave of smuggling activities across Nigerian borders in the wake of the introduction of a new exchange rate regime of N405 to the dollar by the Nigeria Customs Service.
Akinola also expects smuggling to thrive on account of barefaced extortion of importers and agents by a myriad of government agencies and their officials in the ports.
“Smuggling through the border will assume a new dimension with the introduction of 405 Naira to a US dollar as the customs duty payment exchange rate for importers. When the chips are down, the common man who attends the same market with the rich man will suffer, he will suffer hunger and poverty and in the long run, Nigeria will be worse for it on human welfare index,” noted Pastor Akinola who is the President of United Masses Association of Nigeria (UMAN).
He declared that the other way affordable for the distraught Nigerian importers is to resort to smuggling his cargo through the many porous borders with neighbouring West African nations’ borders. “Don’t we eat imported rice in Nigeria till this day? So expect goods, especially essential commodities to find their ways in through the borders.”
The longstanding customs agent advised the federal government to urgently review some of its recent policies in the ports for the sake of the common people of Nigeria and the economy.
“If the government wants the economy to pick up, they will have to put a human face to their policies especially this exchange rate regime. To avoid galloping inflation, the exchange rates must be reviewed down and stabilized. Also, the government must reduce its agencies at the ports and the number of checkpoints on highways across the country.
“Agents now work hard for nothing. There is collusion between government agencies and terminal operators against customs agents, importers and the common man. We work like ants and there is nothing to show for it. Many customs agents cannot pay for the renewal of their licences, or pay their staff salaries,” said Akinola.