The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, on Friday said that the partial closure of the nation’s land borders had caused some people pain, but was necessary in the interest of the economy.
Bello spoke in Lagos as the NSC and maritime stakeholders came together to discuss the land border closure and brainstorm on ways to improve international trade.
The executive secretary told the stakeholders that the aim of the gathering was to look inward and instil rules that would aid international trade in the country.
“Nigeria has become the victim rather than the beneficiary, and it is our duty to support what Customs is doing and proffer solutions, so that the country will not be taken advantage of again,’’ he said.
According to him, Nigeria is a nation of laws, which respect laws, agreement and treaties, but unfortunately, neighbouring countries are not doing as much in international trade.
He said that Nigeria needed to ensure that respect for laws and agreements was reciprocal as regard international trade, otherwise the country would be in trouble.
Bello said that if Nigeria had failed to do the needful, it would continue to export jobs and lose its ability to feed itself.
“We cannot depend on import alone, it is about time we try export for us not to perish, we must insist on our rights as a country with regard to international trade and assent to the letters of agreement,’’ he said.
Bello said that whatever decisions were reached at the meeting would be sent to government for consideration.
Mr Kunle Folarin, Chairman, Ports Consultative Council, called for strategic planning and implementation of outcome of the meeting.
He said that there should be compliance to protocol in trade.
Dr Kayode Farinto, National Vice President, Association of Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) said that the closure of land border without ports being accessible would have negative effect on the country.
He said there was the need for the country to take stock and data of what happened before border closure, during and after so as to move forward.
“There is need for customs to review their operations, review port development policies, have good road network, ensure interconnectivity in the issue of transportation, as all these will aid trade in the country,” he said.
A Customs officer, Deputy Comptroller Bello Jibo, Head Revenue, Seme, said that apart from illicit trade and security, a major reason for the border closure had to with transit trade.
According to him, transit procedure has to do with transporting goods in their original form, which unfortunately has not been so.
“Proper transit procedure must be adhered to; anything coming into Nigeria meant for Nigeria must come in its original form.
“As regard corruption, everything starts with the importer when he under-declares his goods, and is not complying with the rules; this is not good at all,” he said.