The Presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention(NRC) to the 1993 General Election, Alhaji Bashir Tofa has called on the federal government to review its policy on the border closure.
He said this on Tuesday in Kano while responding to the questions from newsmen at a press conference organized by Kano elders under the auspices of Kano Concerned Citizens Initiatives(KCCI).
The elder statesman talked about the advantages and disadvantages of closing the borders to both the government and the Nigerian citizens and also the policy’s effect on the relationship between Nigeria and her neighbouring countries.
Mr Tofa acknowledged and appreciates why the government closed the borders. He also said that Federal Government’s decision to close the borders will not solve the entire problems.
Abdulmumin Murtala of Vanguard, from Kano, reported that Mr Tofa said that;
“In some cases there are advantages. Some companies like rice millers to them certainly are a very good thing, it is an advantage. But to some others, it is a disadvantage. Even to the federal government, there are advantages and disadvantages to them.
“When the government seeks to stop illegal importation of contra banned goods due to the lack of payment of duties, at the same time government has made many people lose money in terms of their exports while exporting these goods.
“We know that there may be billions of naira worth of goods on both sides of the boarders, those coming in and also those going out and a lot of them are sources of revenue for the federal government” he stated. Tofa thereby advised the federal government to reexamine the issue of the closure to allow those doing their legal businesses to continue accordingly.
“So, what we advise is that the federal government should examine this issue very closely and make sure that those who are legally doing their business are allowed to continue their business as long as they are paying the right duties.
“We understand that a lot of these problems are connivance between Customs officials and some businessmen who are willing and ready to pay some money less than what they should pay through the right process” he lamented.
He also stated that the boarders as still porous despite the closure while those doing their legal businesses are strongly affected.
“In fact, these borders are still very porous and things have not changed much in some of them because some of the Customs officials are still collecting money and allowing goods come in” he charged.
The former Presidential candidate further advised that task forces be formed to check activities of faulting customs officials and also a high powered committee to discuss with neighbouring countries on how to effect the laws of Nigeria and ECOWAS at the border.
“So we advise that there should be task forces in each of the border points made up of professional customs officials, those that are trustworthy who will implement what needs to be implemented.
“There should Also be another committee, a very high-powered committee, that should go and negotiate with these neighbouring countries in terms of abiding by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as ECOWAS laws.
“We do not believe closing the border per se is a good thing for everybody. It is advantageous for some people but certainly, it will ruin a lot of businesses for those who legitimately export out of the country.
Tofa also pointed out the need to bring about ways of resolving congestion at clearing points for importers of goods through Lagos.
“We also pointed out that for all imports coming to the country, one has to go to Lagos first is also another difficulty. It is also another problem because there will be so much congestion there and you will see so many delays there.
“A lot of people who import goods have to go there and stay for upwards of three months, six months and will still incur tremendous losses in their goods because some of these goods are perishables, some are building materials which if they don’t carry for long will be a loss to some of these businesses. It is enormous and that will certainly affect the economy of the country.
“We are calling on the federal government to examine both sides of the coin to make sure they come up with something that will be more beneficial to everybody including the federal government herself,” he said.