By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigeria Customs Service has lamented that North East area of Nigeria accounts for the highest number of unapproved border stations, even as the service expressed its resolve to address the challenge.
Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Enforcement and Compliance at the Tin Can Island Port, Mr Dera Nnadi stated this in Lagos yesterday while delivering a keynote address at the 1st Educators and Maritime Stakeholders Roundtable and Awards organised by Ocean Ambassadors Foundation.
The theme of the event was “Knowledge and Blue Economy; the future of Nigeria”
Recall that the Customs had announced at the beginning of the nationwide land borders closure tagged operation Ex-Swift Response that the exercise would exclude South East and North East borders.
Dera noted that there are more than eighty approved border routes in Nigeria, but lamented that ninety percent of these routes have been compromised greatly in the North East.
“There are more that 80 approved checkpoints and approved border stations across Nigeria, unfortunately, about 90% of these border stations, most of them have been compromised in the North East, this is unfortunate, but every effort is being made to get it cleared out” he said
The Customs boss noted that the Nigeria Customs Service have been undergoing various reforms since its formation in 1891, adding that issues surrounding Nigeria Customs right now, especially in regards to closure of the land borders, as well as seizure of vehicles at various car marts in the nation is also another opportunity for the service to reform its mode of operation.
Ali said that “Any country that wants to grow must go beyond importation, taxing products that come in from other countries shows that we are not growing industrially, so if we want Nigeria to grow, we must encourage taxing locally produced products”
“Our job is to encourage compliant traders only, we also get involved in border security, protection of the environment.It is the monies collected by Customs that is used to fund other sector of the economy”
While sensitizing a large crowd of secondary school students, educators and maritime stakeholders on the various job opportunities in the maritime sector, Nnadi said there are over 50 carrier opportunities in the sector apart from Customs.
“Economic benefits and carrier opportunities in the maritime industry includes business of managing or operating shipping lines, customs brokerage, ancillary services that includes ship building and repairs, insurance, provision of security, regulatory activities, ports and harbour management, marine research and oceanography, international communication, litigation and so on”
“We want the students to know that when we talk about the maritime industry, it is not just about the ships alone, there are so many opportunities out there”
“All over the world, businesses that contribute to the growth of the economy comes from the maritime industry”
“There are more than fifty jobs in the maritime sector and opportunities in the yatch industry including underwater photography” he said
Meanwhile, the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ibrahim Ali, has said that the closure of Nigeria’s land borders is an action taken towards making the country great.
Speaking in an interview on Monday, Ali said China closed its borders to the whole world for 40 years, “and today it is considered a great nation”.
He said, “This border closure has created pressure. The suffering of the Nigerian citizens is dumbfounding. Before now, we have poor people; before now we have people who could not afford three-square meals; before now we have people who couldn’t find jobs.
So, for anybody to believe that the border closure is the reason for the hardship in the country is completely dumbfounding. There are no statistics to support that claim. The border closure is a win-win for Nigeria.
“Farmers in Abakaliki who could not sell a truck of millet a week, now do so in a day, Go to Kebbi and ask those farmers how business is now. People are beginning to invest in our agricultural system.
“Why do we need to be fed by foreigners? At what point do we begin to truly feel independent? Any country or nation that cannot feed itself cannot claim independence Because the crux is that once there is a diplomatic misunderstanding, they will close the gap.
What happens then? Hence, we must grow Nigeria. We must eat and drink Nigeria. Even China closed its borders to the whole world for 40 years and today it is considered a great nation. Don’t you want to be a great Nigeria?”