Nigeria is said to have lost over 300,000 jobs and one million steel to smuggling, importation of substandard products, conspiracy and connivance among relevant agencies according to a group of experts, Social Integrity Network (SINE).
The SINET also urged the FG to urgently devise effective monitoring policy of seaports in order to reduce the rate of massive economic loss, stressing that there was no future for the nation’s iron and steel sector.
It equally advised President Muhammadu Buhari to issue an Executive Order compelling the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, to fish out corrupt officers who have been assisting importers to clear good thereby hindering the aged-long fight against insurgency, kidnapping and other social vices which have claimed the lives of innocent citizens while many communities have been ravaged and deserted.
The National Coordinator of the group, Mallam Ibrahim Isah stated this in a statement issued at the weekend. He noted that the remark of President Buhari on border closure being a blessing to Nigeria when he received a delegation of the Nigerian Association for Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) and representatives of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), was highly commendable.
According to him, “we cannot fold our arms and allow smuggling to take over our economy thereby subjecting us to high economic risk and massive downsizing of industrial workers. Many local industries have collapsed due to high rate of importation of substandard products such as coloured corrugated roofing sheets, aluminum roofing sheets as well as galvanised corrugated roofing sheets.
“It is saddened to note that while the nation is gradually winning the war against smuggling through the closure of inland boarders, no attention is given to seaports where containers are checked into the country without adequate inspection thereby paving ways for substandard goods as well as dangerous weapons into the nation. There can’t be significant success without paying cognizance attention to seaports and creeks.
“Despite the hues and cries of Nigerians on the influx of smuggled goods, Nigerian Customs Service, (NCS) is yet to make any public arrest of economic saboteurs thereby confirming the fact that there is strong conspiracy existing within the system. The Standard Organisation of Nigeria, (SON), has played significant roles of shutting down some warehouses with substandard roofing sheets in Imo and Anambra states respectively. We want the president to set ‘Eagle Eyes’ at the seaports for effective monitoring policy.”
He, however, appealed to the Federal government to enact a strong a national policy that will further protect the economic interest of the local manufacturers as well as reduce revenue evasion rate which has made Nigerian Customs to continue to lose a minimum of N1bilion to smugglers weekly in the face of numerous socio-economic decadence, ill-infrastructures, the alarming rate of unemployment and high-foreign debts index.
“If Buhari must triumph in his fight against corruption and insurgency, he must take bold steps towards sanitising the Customs Service and prevent the persisting massive smuggling activities in a bid to further demonstrate strong political-will of promoting local content and safeguarding the future of over 200million Nigerians.”