SOKOTO: The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, monday called on the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to consider the possibility of lifting the ban on the importation of rice through the nation’s land borders.
Speaking when the Comptroller-General of the Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), paid him a courtesy visit in his palace in Sokoto, the monarch said the policy of the government has brought untold hardship on the Nigerian masses and aggravated the scarcity of food in the country.
“This policy should be revisited with a view to making amends and ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians,” he said. The monarch stated that he had been receiving complaints of the masses on the present hardship in the country and called on the customs boss to therefore brainstorm with his management team in this direction.
“There is no food in the country, so, there is the need for the borders to be reopened for rice importation through land borders,” he stressed.
He commended the renewed efforts of the federal government to boost domestic production of rice and promised that the traditional institutions would continue to sensitise the people on the need to support the policies of the three tiers of government.
In his remarks, Ali promised that the management of the service would brainstorm on the request of the Sultan and present same to the government.
“This is a policy of the federal government and it does not start and stop on my table, but I will present it to the government,”he explained.
Ali solicited for the support of the Sultanate Council in ensuring the success of the fight against smuggling.
“You are in a better position to mobilise the people on the need to offer intelligence information that could aid our officers to arrest and prosecute smugglers,”Ali added.
Meanwhile, the customs boss said the average monthly revenue of the service had dropped to about N 50 billion from N 80 billion.
Ali made the disclosure at Gwadabawa Local Government Area of Sokoto State, when he paid a courtesy visit on the District Head of Gwadabawa, Alhaji Lawal Zayyana.
He said the ugly development was sequel to the low domestic and international trade, as well as the declining foreign reserves of the country.
Ali lamented that smuggling activities were helping to cripple the nation’s economy and hindering Nigeria from getting the revenues it deserves.
He stated that Nigerians must begin to do the right things, if the country is to fully develop to realise its potential.
“The only solution remains focusing more attention on mechanised faming, to make Nigeria self sufficient in food production,” he averred.
Responding, Zayyana commended the customs boss for the visit, promising that traditional rulers in the area would work tirelessly to sustain the cordial relations between the service and its host communities.