The Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), on Friday said the Federal Government would not bow to pressure by neighbouring countries to reopen Nigeria’s borders until trade protocols had been respected by governments of those countries.
He said this at the graduation of Senior Course 3 officers of the Nigeria Customs and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, insisting that the borders would remain closed until the strategic objectives of government for the shutting the borders were fully achieved.
The Customs boss said the interest of Nigeria superceded all other countries’ objectives, adding that this was why the government was working hard to protect the local industries.
Ali said that if the government had not closed the borders on August 20, many local industries would be battling for survival as a result of smuggling.
He said the government would no longer watch while the country was turned into a dumping ground by other neighbouring countries.
He said for the country to achieve sustainable development, the government must lay the foundation for the growth of its industries.
Ali said that with the continent preparing to implement the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, there was a need to sanitise the system to ensure that Nigeria would benefit from the pact.
He said, “It is our hope that the border drill will continue for a while so that we cannot only sanitise our process but also lay the foundation for our growth and development. That is what we need to get our industrialists to think and grow.
“If we don’t do that, we are going to be in deep problem. By the time we begin to operate the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, Nigeria will be a dumping ground for every product from Africa.
“So, we need to develop our capacity to meet our requirements in terms of goods and services so that we can keep at bay the influx of other goods. If we don’t, these goods will come and our industries will continue to die.”
He noted that Nigeria, with a population of 200 million, had the market as it could consume what it produced locally.
Ali recalled that the Chinese shut their borders for over two decades; a development he claimed made the country one of the strongest economies in the world.
He added, “The Chinese closed their doors for over 20 years and now they are on top. We need to close our own. There is nothing that is being produced today that we cannot consume in Nigeria. Our industrialists do not have to look out to find the market; we have it right here. And we need to grow that market.”