A pan-Igbo socio-political group, the Ndigbo Unity Forum (NUF) has decried economic hardship being faced by Nigerians, especially traders nationwide, due to the recent border closure.
Concise News reports that the President of NUF, Augustine Chukwudum, disclosed this to NAN in Enugu on Saturday.
Chukwudum, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to consider re-opening the borders for legitimate trade to ease the gradual economic suffocation in the country.
According to him, NUF, disturbed by the plight of traders, went on a fact-finding mission in Lagos, Aba, Onitsha, Nnewi and Nkpor Markets and discovered that traders have lost over N15 billion in sales already.
“According to our findings, 80 per cent of the major customers that trade with Nigeria traders come from Togo, Cameroun, Chad, Gabon, Congo and other African countries.
“It is unfortunate that some people are misleading the president by advising him to engage in blanket closure of our official borders that have all government security agencies that is fully in charge of checkmating unwanted imported goods into the country.
“This situation has thereby created serious and avoidable economic hardship to the suffering masses by stopping the movement of goods from Nigeria to other countries.
“In as much as NUF support President Buhari’s agriculture agenda, the government must not deprive traders economic right with border closure, which has brought untold hardship on them and Nigerian masses,’’ he said.
The NUF boss noted that the group was raising the alarm because the Federal Government got it wrong by stopping movement of goods from Nigeria to other countries.
Rice farmers in support of border closure, pledge improved production
In related news, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) have expressed their support for the closure of borders by the Federal Government, assuring that rice farmers will work harder to increase local rice production in the country.
Victor Korede, the South-West RIFAN Vice President gave the assurance in an interview with NAN last Friday in Ibadan.
Korede said the border closure would add a lot of economic benefits to the nation, create opportunities for the farmers to produce more rice and to have easy access to markets.
“Food security will be enhanced, a nation that cannot feed itself is a slave to other nations; we shall eat what we produce and our foreign reserve will grow.
“The recent sudden high cost of rice is not that farmers are not producing enough as many think.
“Nigerians have penchant for foreign products thus importers, especially smugglers will go to all fronts to protect their businesses. They will wipe up sentiments and force government to rescind its decision.
“Our rice is available in markets, small, medium and large scale processors are springing up by the day embracing government’s policy, while farmers are not slacking enlarging their coast of production.
“A collaboration between smugglers who eke their living through illicit business and their foreign rice producers who boost their national economy with our huge market, and will not want us to realise our potential, are part of the problems,” he said.
He implored the government not to back down its decision as the hike in price of rice would not last, rather efforts should be further gathered to encourage local rice production through existing windows.
Korede said that appraisal of various food security programmes should be duly carried out to improve upon successes attained, while loopholes found should be blocked.
He said that mechanisation should retain its prime place in farming with recognition of micro, small and large scale farmers; awareness of planting quality seeds should increase and made available at affordable price to farmers.
Korede further urged government agencies to wholesomely implement duty free agricultural inputs for the farmers.
He said that local production of quality modern farm implementation should be encouraged to save capital flight and create employment opportunity.
Korede urged research institutions to always give farmers all necessary support in capacity building and research findings on high yielding variety of seeds.
“Our colleges of agriculture should be tasked in production, students being induced to engage in production through competitions and projects with rewards or grants to proven ones.
“Security agents should be involved in bringing out the culprits who are swapping and hoarding rice in various warehouses.
“We commend the government’s effort and agencies for working tirelessly for what has been achieved thus far, the increase is just to test government’s willpower to thwart its decision, and price will soon come down.
“Available data shows that farmers have increased production from less than three million metric tonnes that was produced in 2015 to six million metric tonnes last year.
“Not relenting, 14 million metric tonnes is the target for the year.
“The current market price of rice is not real as our target price is N10, 000 per bag and we hope to attain this in the shortest possible time,” he said.