Business Hilights
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Customs signing MoU with RIFAN, an indictment on their job, CG—Nigerians

The recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to stop rice smuggling through land border into the country between Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has attracted serious criticisms from Nigerians.

Majority of citizens who spoke to our correspondent argued that the Customs does not need MoU to do their job of stopping smugglers or any banned goods in the first instance.

Again, many of them submitted that if the CG, Hameed Ali whose major consideration for appointment is to come and fight corruption in the Service stoops so low to sign such agreement, it means that he has lost touch of his original assignment and should resign.

Business Hilights recalls that the President Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, dropped the hint of the MoU in Abuja.

He said the MoU became necessary because “even though the importation of rice through the land borders was banned since April 2016 with an extension to the restriction of rice into the Nigerian market from the Export Processing Zones (EPZ), yet smugglers still engaged in the unwholesome act”.

He however warned Nigerians against the consumption of foreign rice, saying that most of the imported rice is stale and only meant for animal and fish feeds.

Efforts to get more details on why Customs signed the document by our correspondent failed as contacted officers were economical with words.

Giving more details on why imported rice is only manageable by animals, Goronyo said result of test by NAFDAC through some samples of some of the rice seizures had ascertained that smuggled rice through the land borders was unfit for human consumption.

He said “99 per cent of rice smuggled through the land borders are not fit for human consumption,” he said.

RIFAN President said to ensure effective monitoring of the land borders, the Comptroller-General has approved a 12-man implementation committee to be headed by Assistant Comptroller-General, Alino Dangaladima.

Goronyo said that the annual rice production in Nigeria has increased from 5.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017, revealing that in 2015, Nigerians spent not less than N1 billion daily on rice consumption, adding that while spending had drastically reduced, consumption had increased because of increased local production of the commodity.

“The consumption rate now is 7.9 million tonnes, while the production rate is 5.8 tonnes per annum,’’ Goronyo revealed further.

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