Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan has called for measures to strengthen the nation’s borders against the activities of smugglers.
He made the call in reaction to the threat posed by rice smugglers to the quest by the country to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
Senator Hope Uzodinma who raised the alarm in a motion stressed that if urgent steps were not taken to curtail the trend, the ongoing steps taken towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice production by many states and the federal government will amount to nothing.
He explained that markets and shops across the country have been flooded with smuggled goods as a result of porous borders, thereby rendering the nation’s production units comatose.
“Thousands of industrial units in the country have been rendered useless due to the availability of smuggled goods in open market. Smuggling has now become a routine part of economic activities in Nigeria,”
The senate leader, Ahmed Lawan in his contribution decried the high price of local rice against foreign rice, and called for an urgent intervention to reverse the trend.
“If we had controlled our borders, stopped the smuggling in of rice, ensured there is proper tariff on imported rice, the entire value chain from growers to millers and to traders would have a better price for our rice.”
The deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session urged the executive arm to ensure adequate supply of local rice to the market.
“Unless the supply exceeds the demand, there will continue to be pressure on the citizens to find rice and that’s where smugglers tap their incentive.”
The senate then urged the executive arm to engage neighboring countries in curtailing the problem.
It also mandated its committee on custom and tariff to investigate the operation of comprehensive import supervision scheme and identify smugglers for prosecution.