The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has lent its full support to the closure of Nigeria’s land borders with the West African neighbour countries of Benin Republic and Niger Republic by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
ANLCA posits that the closure is a nationalistic initiative from which Nigeria will emerge stronger socio-economically.
The Federal Government, frustrated by the recalcitrant posture of the Government of Benin Republic to curb high profile smuggling of rice into Nigeria through its borders-an ugly development which undermines Nigeria government’s plan to achieve viability and sustainability of home grown rice and enrich local farmers thus saving the nation about N750b lost to rice smuggling annually- had, by military precision closed down all the borders linking Nigeria and the two neighbouring countries.
In spite of being the most harshly affected as freight forwarders and customs brokers, ANLCA says its members will endure this difficult period in solidarity with the federal government’s resolve to ensure national sustainability in rice and other sundry agricultural products.
Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike, the National President of ANLCA told PortNews exclusively that the border closure is one great step taken by President Mohammodu Buhari that will go into history book as a landmark for prosperity to remember.
“You can’t berth over 50 ships each laden with 12,500 to 35,000 metric tonnes of rice in Cotonou port for Benin Republic’s population of about seven million. The consignment is obviously destined dubiously for the 200 million peopled Nigeria,” observed Hon. Nwabunike who stressed that no nation could become great with a neigbour like Benin through which Nigeria loses about a trillion Naira to smugglers yearly.
The ANLCA President however assured his teeming members that the closure of the borders is not for ever stressing that as soon as the officials of government of Benin Republic and Nigeria reach a workable agreement on what to import and export through the borders and abide by it, the borders will be opened. “We advise the government of Benin Republic to show a sense of remorse, come to a roundtable with Nigerian government and promise to sin no more. Then I trust that our government will open the borders in the spirit of ECOWAS and African neighbourliness,” he opined. He therefore advised Benin Republic to respect ECOWAS Trade Liberization Scheme (ETLS) procedure on transit goods that such goods destined for Nigeria should arrive unstuffed by Benin Customs.
In a related development the ANLCA President Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike, has appealed to the federal government of Nigeria to open a one-month window for the sake of a large number of innocent importers and exporters to bring in their cargo while those on the Nigerian side can quickly and legally export their stranded cargo to their intended destinations in West Africa. He reasoned that the gesture is not only humanitarian but will fetch the needed revenue for the Customs while licensed customs agents will get busy and earn a livelihood. “In situations like this, innocent people who are in the majority will suffer needlessly. I therefore call on the government to allow importers and exporters on both sides of the borders who have nothing shady or illegal to transact, to forward their cargo to their respective destinations. This will even fetch billions of Naira for government, keep both the Customs and agents busy and the entire border environment happy with the economy on the upswing”, advised Nwabunike