The Nigerian Custom Service has debunked the claims and insinuations being peddled at various quarters that current closure of the country’s land borders was being targeted at importers of Igbo extraction.
In a joint border security exercise codenamed “Exercise Swift Response”, Nigeria has intensified efforts against importation and exportation of goods through her land borders.
In Aba Abia state, the NCS through the Deputy Comptroller of NCS, Joseph Attah, disclosed this when the Strategic Communication Sub-Committee organized a meeting with importers and exporters in the commercial nerve city of the state.
Attha stated: “This question has come repeatedly. When you go to the North, the people there will ask you, are you sure that the intensity with which you carry out this here is what you do in the West? When you go to the West, they’ll ask you if what you’re doing there is what you’re doing in the East. And here we are in the East, we are getting the same question.
“That’s what makes Nigeria thick. The fact that we’re able to go beyond our diversity and at the end of the day when Nigerians are confronted with the truth, they accept it, embrace and support the Government to achieve what is being done in their interest.
“Let us declare here, what’s being done is about National Security and Economy. Over a period of time, trans-border crimes and criminalities have kind of affected our safety in our roads, our homes and have affected our ability to yield dividends from our investments.
“For some strange reasons, our neighbours believe that they must take advantage of our size, our population and have turned us into a dumping ground.
“While we blame them, for some strange reasons too, Nigerians somehow believe that anything that comes from outside is better than what is locally produced even when the quality is in doubt.
“Take rice for instance, most of these rice have overstayed in their producing countries. And it is either they’re expired or about to be expired. Our neighbours will just go there, buy them at cheap prices and then dump it on us and then we eat and get confronted with all kinds of diseases.
“We have our local rice producers, despite the massive investment and support by the Federal Government, their situations have not changed, simply because their brothers and sisters do not want to patronize them, but prefer the expired or about to be expired ones to their own.
“This shutdown of the borders has brought a paradigm shift in the level of patronage. Ask every Nigerian farmer today, they’re smiling to the banks. They’re getting increased patronage.
“Nigerians are eating fresher rice that’s devoid of chemicals, that’s nutritious and the farmers are expanding their farms, engaging more hands which creates more job opportunities. So, the whole essence of this border closure is to boost our security and stimulate local growth.”
On the positive impacts of the border closure so far, he stressed:
“Aba is a city that’s known for creative individuals. It is also known for high quality locally made products. Why would somebody think that product made in Aba is not original?
“So, on the contrary, what’s happening is to the advantage of those who believe in industry, creativity and productivity. It’s not tribal-based, it’s not religious-based, but it’s in the interest of the nation,” he said