The Federal Government has accused the Republic of Benin of being recalcitrant in its importation of prohibited goods for ultimate dumping in to Nigeria’s market in spite the partial border closure order.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the accusation when he featured on a “TV Continental”, live Programme, monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
“Regrettably, the signs out there are not positive in the sense that in the last few weeks, the amount of seizures that have been made do not show that our neighbours are in a hurry to comply with Nigeria.
“As we speak today, there are three ships heading toward Benin Republic laden with about 105,000 metric tons of rice.
“This is a country of about 12 million people. That rice is meant for ultimate consumption of Nigerians.
“In addition, Benin Republic just negotiated with Japan to receive rice worth 30 million dollars.
“It is clear that the ultimate destination of the rice will be Nigeria and that is why we are appealing to our neighbours.
“First preservation is the first law of survival, we are doing this to preserve our economy and the security of our country,” he said.
The minister who disclosed that the border drill will be in place as long as necessary, noted that Nigeria could no longer continue to play the big brother at the expense of its economy and national security.
“The facts at our disposal reveal that 10,000 vehicles are imported every month into the Cotonou seaport.
“For a population of about 12 million people to be importing 120,000 vehicles in a year means that the vehicles are going to Nigeria with sufficient market.
“As I have said, there is no gain without pain, there will be discomfort at the beginning ultimately we believe it is going to be to the ultimate interest of Nigeria,” he said.
The minister reiterated that both Benin Republic and Niger Republic were hurting Nigeria’s economy and security because of their non compliance with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transit Goods and State of Origin.
“We have been on this dialogue since 2015 and the truth of the matter is that there has never been any legitimate transit trade between us and the two countries
“This is hurting our economy, affecting our security and no country will fold its arms when the overall interest of its people is being jeopardise,” he said.
The minister said that government decided to prohibit sale of fuel in filling stations less than 20km away from the borders because of the high level of smuggling of the product to neighbouring countries.
He said no fewer than 160 filling stations were affected by the directive and they were in such a large number because they primarily engage in smuggling.
“These are stations that when you drive into them in the day time, they will not be dispensing fuel until late in the night when they will smuggle the product across the border,” he said.
Mohammed disclosed that a very sizable proportion of the subsidised imported petrol into the country was finding its way to Benin Republic, Niger Republic and some other West African countries.
“What we find out is that we are actually subsidising the product not just for Nigerians but for many West African countries.
“For instance, if the landing cost of pms is about N200 today, in order to cushion the effect on the people, government sells at N140 per liter.
“Meaning that for every liter of fuel bought, the government is paying N60. If you consume one million litres a day, the government is paying N60 million a day.
“You can imagine that from what the government pays, it is the neighboring countries that benefit about 50 per cent of it,” he said.
Mohammed said that it had been provenly established that 95 per cent of illicit drugs , arms and ammunition came into the country through the land borders with attendant effect on increase in terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes.
He said with the border drill directive, there had been drastic reduction smuggling of drugs and arms into the country, thereby reducing rate of crimes.
The minister said that government was aware of the effects of the border drill on the citizens, particularly the spike in the price of rice, but the people must bear the temporary pains to reap the benefits.
NAN reports that most of the viewers that called in to the programme supported the government on the partial border closure directive.
They contended that Nigeria had been reduced to a dumping ground for decades.
Some of them gave the examples of China that closed its borders for decades to achieve its vision of self reliance and becoming a nation to reckon with globally
Brief Profile of Chief Rt Hon Asita Honourable, Chairman Board of NIMASA
Chief Rt. Hon. Asita Honourable was born on 31st of December 1966 to late Chief Okorie Asita (JP) of the Ugusha Royal Family of Okarki-Engenni in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Through divine revelation, his parents christened him “Honourable”, a name he has honourably lived up to.Honourable had his primary education at State School, Okarki from 1973 — 1979, and then proceeded to Government Secondary School Okarki from 1979 — 1984 where he obtained his West African Senior School Certificate.In 1984, after his secondary education, Honourable was appointed by the Baptist Church in Okarki as Lay Preacher in an out-station church located at Otuegwe, in present day Bayelsa State.
With passion for education and enlightenment, Honourable opted to advance his studies by enrolling as an undergraduate with the Rivers State University of Science & Technology (now Rivers State University) where he studied and obtained a Law degree from 1988 — 1992.
After his graduation, Honourable got admission into the Nigerian Law School (Lagos Campus) in 1993 whereupon he was called to the Nigerian Bar and qualified to practice as Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.In 1994, Honourable participated in the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme and was posted to Fufore LGA of Adamawa State. He also during this period consulted for Ibrahim Wachy & Co., a Law firm in Jimeta, Yola.
The experiences garnered made the birthing of Honourable Asita & Co. (St. Collins Memorial Chambers) an inevitable process in 1995 which consulted for and represented many private & corporate organisations. Honourable was elected and served as Party Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ahoada West LGA Chapter from 1999 — 2005.He was appointed Fulltime Member, Rivers State Post Primary Schools Board (Board Member 1) from 2002 — 2005. And a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor of Rivers State from 2003 — 2005.
While still serving in these capacities, he was appointed Chairman, State Projects Monitoring Committee (Rivers South East Senatorial District) 2003 — 2005.From 2005 — 2007, Honourable was appointed as Member, Rivers State Executive Council where he served as Commissioner for Special Duties (Youth Affairs / Employment Generation & Empowerment).With a burning desire to advance his people and the society, Honourable contested and won the 2007 general election as Member, House of Representatives, representing the good people of Ahoada West/Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Federal Constituency.
In the Green Chamber, Honourable was appointed Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Anti-Corruption, National Ethics & Values and House Committee Member on Environment, Capital Markets & Institutions and Special Duties.On account of his effectiveness as a Federal Legislator, Honourable was re-elected in 2011 and appointed pioneer Chairman, House Committee on Local Content, where he played no small role in promotion of the Nigerian Local Content.
He, during this period also held Committee Membership on Custom, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Federal Character and Public Accounts.Asita Honourable emerged as the Deputy Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rivers State in the 2015 General Elections.
He was the Rivers West Senatorial Candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the 2019 General Elections until the court nullified the primaries of the APC.He has participated in many local and international conferences and delivered keynote addresses in several local and international conferences and fora.Chief Asita Honourable is happily married to Engr. Patricia Asita and they are blessed with lovely children.
Amaechi charges NIMASA board to complete deep blue sea project
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has charged the newly inaugurated board of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to ensure speedy completion of the deep blue sea project
Amaechi, while inaugurating members of the board on Thursday in Abuja, said that the project, when completed, would eradicate insecurity challenges on the country’s waterways.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the board has as Chairman, Mr Honourable Asita, with Bashir Jamoh and Victor Ochei as members.
NAN reports that other members of the board are Chudi Offordile, Shehu Ahmed, Adekola Adefemi, Muhammed Abubakar, Hassan Mahmud, Eyewumi Neburagho and Rear Adm. Ibikunle Olaiya.
According to Amaechi, the deep blue sea project has been approved by the Federal Government, with over 60 per cent of its cost paid.`
”It is one project I have vowed to promote, inspite of all the interests, and there are too many interests fighting to stop it.
”Now, this board and the management is charged to go and complete that project.
”The Director-General NIMASA has reported in the past one or two weeks, several successful attempts at kidnapping people; they were kidnapped on our waterways and this project is geared toward stopping that.
”Where we are now is the local content of the project, in fact the gentlemen have virtually supplied almost everything for the project.
”I plead with you, so we do not become agents of those who don’t want this to succeed. I am sure we will be able to solve the insecurity problem if this is completed.
”So, you have the responsibility to discharge that quickly and discharge it according to law,” he said.
Amaechi said the success of NIMASA to a great extent would be dependent on the success of the deep blue sea project.
He, therefore, urged the management to work with the board to ensure the success of the project, which would ensure safety of the country’s waterways, a core mandate of the agency.
“Go and work together. Let the board know that there is a difference between board and management. Board initiates policies and management executes policies,’’ he said.
Responding on behalf of members of the board, Asita commended President Muhammadu Buhari for giving the members the opportunity to serve the country, pledging their commitment to deliver on their mandate.
”I have had cause to express some concerns to you before the inauguration about the insecurity on our waterways.
” I have also had cause to interact with members of the board and have had a few meetings with the Director-General of the agency.
”I want to assure you that we will work together peacefully, harmoniously, knowing the responsibilities of the board and management, and we will work together peacefully to deliver on our mandate.
”We are lucky to have a team of very competent eminent Nigerians as members of the management team of NIMASA.
”So, with the support of members of the board, I assure you that we will take the assignment you have given us very seriously and on behalf of the board, I want to thank you for the honour bestowed on us.
”It is only an irresponsible organisation that will play with the security of its economy.
“If we must trade as a country, we need the waterways to be safe, so we thank you for this opportunity and assure you that we will deliver on the mandate,’’ Asita said. (NAN)
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