The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed 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 of the partial border closure order.
Lai Mohammed made the accusation when he featured on a “TV Continental”, live Programme, on Saturday, November 30.
“Regrettably, the signs out there are not positive in the sense that in the last few weeks; the amount of seizures 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. 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.
Border closure will remain in force, says Lai Mohammed
Lai Mohammed 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. Further, he revealed that this was 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. Additionally, he disclosed that this was because of their non-compliance with ECOWAS Protocol on Transit Goods and State of Origin.
“We have been on this dialogue since 2015. 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. No country will fold its arms when the overall interest of its people is being jeopardised,” he said.
Minister insists crime rate has dropped due to closure
Furthermore, 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.
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.
He said with the border drill directive, there had been drastic reduction smuggling of drugs and arms into Nigeria; thereby reducing rate of crimes.