The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has expressed concerns over the quality of rice being imported and consumed by Nigerians.
The governors, while describing it as substandard, harmful, called on the Nigeria Customs Service to take urgent measures to curb the situation.
According to governors, a large consignment of rice still finding its way into the Nigerian market was imported since 2014 when the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration issued a liberal import licence regime to those who were able to bring substantial quantity of rice into the country using a waiver from the presidency at the time.
“Governors expressed concern that Nigerians were either falling sick or losing their lives to the consumption of this substandard produce even though some states have commenced elaborate efforts to produce rice in commercial quantity with a view to halting the nation’s over-reliance on staples that can be produced locally.
Briefing the Forum, the Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali who was represented by Deputy Comptroller General, Dangaladima Aminu, said though there was an upsurge in the smuggling of rice through the nations land borders, there had been no alteration to the prohibition on the importation of rice through land borders. He claimed that any quantity of rice which found its way into Nigeria through land routes was smuggled.
“It may interest you to note that a motorcycle can make up to 30 trips with six 50kg bags of rice per night depending on the distance. And when the border communities are not smuggling the produce themselves, they are aiding or providing cover for smugglers.”
Dangaladima added that rice merchants had recorded huge losses as a result of seizures by the customs.