Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, Acting Comptroller General of Customs answered questions from reporters shortly after unveiling seizures worth over N240m in Abeokuta.
Ismail Aniemu was there
Q: These seizures are massive, looking unprecedented in recent times. What informed this level of productivity from your men?
All officers and men of Nigeria Customs Service have aligned to the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.It is a new era, It is a new air blowing across us.We all seem very motivated, prepared and determined to finish the challenges facing the country.
Smuggling is an evil.It portends very great danger to our economy.Not only to our safety, and security.But also prevent us from getting revenue to for the development agenda of the government.
We have identified with that vision and we are motivated to support this caring vision of government.If we look at the policy advisory document of President Tinubu, there are very conspicuous reference to the determination to allow the growth of our local industries to boost export, make locally produced products more competitive and there’s no way we would achieve that if we allow indiscriminate and illicit dumping of goods not properly imported into the country.
I will say this is a motivation and a job we have signed up to do and showing up here, is just to show appreciation that we have officers and men who have a shared understanding of this vision.They are committed to it and are giving us their best in doing it.
Q: What compensation plan do you have for your officers to keep them motivated to stay consistent in fighting smuggling?
Talking in terms of additional motivation, promotion.
I think it is more than that and we have touched a very important issue of national security and for those who know, food security is a very important component of national security.
Any country that has difficulty feeding itself will have problem coping with security. All of us need to understand this and know that it is no longer sustainable for us to import our staples.
Rice has become a staple for every household in Nigeria and thrillions of naira, forex is committed to importation of these items.This is why my own approach to this is ,that we must begin to look inwards and see how we can save our local forex .
The jobs that would have been created if we channel all our efforts and resources towards local self sufficiency in food production is massive.
I have always given example that in different various geographical locations, different parts of this country, several opportunities and avenues of rice production exist in the north, east and even in elitist place like Lagos.We have the local capacity; that is the first part.
The second part is to appeal to Nigerians themselves to begin to cultivate likeness for what we produce locally.I would still say it one thousand times that Wale Adeniyi prefers to eat local rice because I find it tastier, more nutritious and it is locally available.
If Nigerians would imbibe and transfer the taste we have for foreign parboiled rice to locally produced rice, even with the complains that it is a bit more expensive, there are stones and other complaints, the ones in Thailand were not at this state 20-30 years ago, we will do better economically if we eat what we grow.
It is when over two hundred million Nigerians begin to patronize what we produce in Nigeria that we will reduce the market for those parboiled rice and our Naira can begin to make appreciable thrive and the value can appreciate
There is a pattern that we could see from all the seizures.These vehicles are purposely built.Those who operated these vehicles went with no other intention apart from smuggling.We saw some vehicles that barely gave very little space for the driver.It was deliberate.When they go out with this kind of vehicle, they are out to smuggle.
Most of the time, apprehending suspects proves difficult.The most important thing for us when we get this kind of thing is just to ensure that we get the vehicle which is the means of conveyance and what they are being conveyed.
For the cannabis, we have some suspects and we are processing these suspects with other agencies of government and eventually we might hand them over to National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)
Q: The ban on fuel supply to border communities have lasted for too long and added to the hardship faced by the people. Are there no plans to reverse this even after subsidy removal?
We are actively monitoring the situation.If you remember, there was actually a resolution by the Senate about 2-3 weeks ago expressing the same concern and we also have a shared understanding about this.
We have made our position to the National Security Adviser and we are hoping that in the next few days, there might be a review of this policy