The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service Abdullahi Inde Dikko, has stressed the need for the country to always take into consideration, the concerns and needs of her neighbours, when formulating any economic policy and tariff regimes.
He made this assertion yesterday, in Abuja, saying Nigeria being the economic giant of the region, no African country from Senegal to Ethiopia would find it easy if the country shuts her borders.
Speaking on his experiences as Vice-Chair of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for West and Central Africa, which tenure ended recently,said Nigeria’s insecurity problem is a regional problem and not that of the nation’s alone.
According to him, one of the key achievements of his tenure was to persuade all our neighbouring countries to accept that what touches one country upsets all.He pointed out that Cameroun and Benin Republic at first complained that Nigeria does not take them along before initiating measures that adversely affect them.
The Customs boss noted that while Benin said Nigeria does not address some border issues, Cameroun complained that the border was shut without informing it.
He however said through his leadership of the WCO in the region, cooperation was significantly boosted between the customs bodies of Nigeria and her neighbours.
Also, Dikko disclosed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed that specified that goods emanating from one country must be handed over to the customs of the next country.
He added that, soon after the MOU was signed, the Cameroonian customs intercepted a shipment of arms and ammunition which it handed over to Nigeria.
There is also an agreement that any apprehended criminals will be handed over to the country with the harshest punishment for the crime, he said.
Commenting on problem of cross-border smuggling, the Customs boss said described it as a menace to all countries in the region and not just to Nigeria.
He noted that smuggling of second hand vehicles into the country is difficult to tackle because too many Nigerians want to buy cheap vehicles, adding that only 15% of the population can afford the cars assembled in the country.
He suggested that other types of incentives be given to local car manufacturers to enable them to produce cheaper vehicles which more Nigerians can afford.
He however said there is a 0.05% tariff collected by the Customs on every imported car which is paid to Economic Committee of West Africa States (ECOWAS), in order to compensate landlocked countries