By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Senate has commended the recent decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to temporarily close all land borders to address smuggling and its impact on the Nigerian economy.
The commendation came after the consideration of a motion titled: “The impact of border closure on the Nigerian economy”, sponsored by Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central) at Wednesday’s plenary.
The Senate, in its resolutions, urged the Nigerian Customs Service and security services to intensify the curbing of smuggling across the borders, and assured them of the upper chamber’s support in their onerous task of ridding Nigeria of smuggled goods and services.
Leading the debate, Senator Aliero said, “Fuel smuggling has significantly reduced thereby saving the country billions of scarce foreign exchange spent by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to import fuel into Nigeria.”
Aliero noted that smuggling of textile and vegetable oil imported from Malaysia through the land borders has negatively affected local production and grounded it to a halt.
“The Federal Government’s action has led to the revival of local production of vegetable oil, and increased employment generation,” the senator said.
In a related development, the Senate also on Wednesday urged the National Planning Commission (NPC) to develop a policy framework that creates mechanisms for development cooperation and aid effectiveness in Nigeria.
The upper chamber counseled its relevant standing committees to monitor and oversee Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that are beneficiaries of developmental aid and grants across Nigeria.
The Senate further asked States’ Planning Commissions and Houses of Assembly to domesticate and implement federal policies and laws to enable states achieve aid effectiveness.
The resolutions were reached at Wednesday’s plenary following a consideration of a motion titled: “The need to make development aid more effective to work for Nigerians.”
The motion was sponsored by Senator Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central) and co-sponsored by 52 other Senators.
Senator Oloriegbe said “Nigeria as a developing country receives aid from bilateral countries and multilateral organisations; despite not being an aid dependent country, as the support to it is about five percent of the national budget.”
He bemoaned the failure of the National Planning Commission to effectively perform its role of ensuring the monitoring of donor assistance with national priorities in all sectors of the economy.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the true application of aid for the benefit of Nigerians will form part of the legislative agenda of the ninth Senate.
“Giving aid to Nigeria should not be treated like it is treated in other countries that are lesser than Nigeria. We must be able to know exactly what the aid is for, and then streamline the aid with our national developmental objectives.
“The Chairman of Diaspora and NGOs Committee has the task of engaging the National Planning Commission together with the Chairman of the Committee on National Planning to ensure that that we know what the processes and procedures are and the regulations and guidelines and if we are not satisfied, then we have to come up with the legal framework that will ensure that if there is any aid to us as a country, our people benefit from the aid,” Lawan said.