From Femi Oyelola kaduna
The Nigeria Labour Congress said it supports the decision of the Federal Government to shut down the land border between Nigeria and Benin Republic in an official attempt to curb smuggling of foreign rice into the country.
A National Executive Council member of the Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu disclosed this in a statement made available to the media in Kaduna yesterday.
According to him, Benin Republic is nothing but a “border smuggler-economy, saying”. Nigerian economy cannot recover and create needed mass jobs, until there is a cessation to serial border smuggling of all manner of goods.
He said apart from crisis of electricity supply, endemic smuggling through Benin border was a singular factor that has led to the total collapse of most manufacturing especially textile and automobile industries in Nigeria with attendant loss of millions of jobs.
“We commend the implementation of Anchor Borrowers’ Programme initiated by the Central Bank which has dramatically led to self-sufficiency in rice production.
“However unless drastic actions such as border closures were taken, the new rice revolution, like other past self-sufficiency measures would be a mirage.
“We recall that it was Benin border closure by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000 that led to an unprecedented recovery of the poultry and textile sectors in Nigeria. Smuggling must be treated as “an unofficial declaration of economic war against Nigeria by Benin Republic.”
“Smuggling is already killing Nigeria. Smuggling is not a legitimate trade or business. Rather it is a zero-sum illegal activity in which smugglers take all unearned benefits living the Nigeria with woes.
“Smugglers don’t pay taxes, government loses incomes. Smugglers corrupt and even kill custom workers. Smugglers kill local industries and kill jobs with cheap and even poisonous goods like parboiled rice,” the statement said.