Rice Farmers Association President Speaks On Border Closure
Image: Mynairanaija

Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, the National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), says the closure of Nigeria’s land borders is not to enrich rice farmers but to encourage patriotism.

Concise News reports that Goronyo told journalists during an interactive session in Sokoto on Tuesday that the border closure was for the good of the country and the entire citizenry.

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“We have realised many successes by the border closure resulting to the saving of about N300 billion from the annual rice importation to Nigeria.

“Today, we are no longer dependent on the rice we consume in the country with only N80 billion to produce locally on annual basis.

“Before 2015 Nigeria, spent nothing less than N368 billion for rice importation but today that same money is in circulation within the country’s business community.

“Moreover, the border closure is part of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s patriotic gesture and encouraging Nigerians to follow suit.

“However, the closure is not to enrich rice farmers but a devotion to the welfare of the country and commitment to compete with other nations,” he said.

Goronyo urged Nigerians to continue to be encouraged with the border closure, saying it would eventually be for the development of the country.

“It is time we realise the need for our country to be independent on food than enriching people from other countries and increasing poverty and unemployment among our people.

“Nigerian farmers are producing more than the country’s consumption today, as such we should continue to encourage and commend the government on the effort,” he said.

Goronyo commended the efforts of companies and agencies working toward ensuring global standard and self-sufficiency in rice production in the country.

No gain without pain, says Lai Mohammed

Meanwhile, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture says Nigerians must endure the temporary effects of the borders closure to reap the attendants benefits.

The minister stated this on Monday when he paid a working visit to the new corporate headquarters of “The Sun” Newspaper in Lagos.

The minister, who said that the visit was part of his ongoing media tour, was received by the management of the newspaper led by Onuoha Ukeh, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief.

Fielding questions from the editorial board, the minister reiterated government position that the borders closure was not indefinite and was as a result of the failure of the neighbouring countries to fulfill their obligations.

“What has happened is that there is an agreement among the ECOWAS member states that goods coming into Nigeria must be containerized and taken through the border where they can be assessed and attested that they are not smuggled items.

“However, this agreement has not been adhered to by our neighbours

“We know that the closure is inflicting some collateral damages to many people but in the overall interest of Nigerians, we need to persevere and bear with the government so that our neighbours would be responsible and responsive.

“You can not turn Nigeria to a dumping ground of harmful goods just because we are neighbours and share common borders.

“For instance the largest volume of the parboiled rice that come into Nigeria is smuggled through the borders.

“Nobody is paying any duty on the goods and they are disincentive to local industry,” he said.

On the gains of the closure, the minister said that apart from billions of Naira accruing to government purse from payment of duties, there have been a lot of testimonies of Nigerians in agricultural sector.

He said many poultry farmers have given testimonies of how the border closure had improved on their sales of eggs and birds while there has been high demand for local rice.

“For instance, there is a Dr Balogun who retired from Total and established poultry farms in Ibadan.

”He called to thank the government that before the border closure he was selling 4,000 birds today the demand is 15,000 birds. Market is elastic.

“But for the border closure, there would have been a glot in the rice market.

”This is because of the bountiful harvest witnessed this year,” he said.

The minister assured Nigeians that with the bountiful harvest the price of local rice will be crashed soon.

“Local rice is not only helping our economy and generating employment but it is also more healthy than the imported rice.

“I can assure you that it will not be forever, we are also engaging our neighbours so that they can do the right thing,” he said.

Reacting to the question on whether Nigeria, with the border closure, has flouted the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister said that national security takes precedence over any agreement.

“First is the issue of national security and the survival of the country.

“A country must survive first before it becomes a member of an organisation and signatory to any agreement.

“For us, it is because there is a Nigeria that we can first talk of signing the AFCTA.

“We believe that there is an external threat to our economy that needed to be addressed first then we will resolve the issue of AFCTA,” he said.

The minister stressed that Nigeria had become a dumping ground for imported goods and losing massive revenue on daily basis.

President Buhari’s directive on limited closure of the country’s western border was effected to allow Nigeria’s security forces develop a strategy to curb smuggling.

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), has also announced that the land borders will remain closed pending when Benin and other neighbouring African countries stop taking Nigeria for a smuggling destination.