Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has expressed concerns that Federal Government’s efforts and successes in the agricultural sector of the economy would be frustrated unless urgent measures are put in place to address the issue of smuggling of foreign foods into the country.
Lokpobiri further cautioned that social problems will continue to fester in the country if the problem is not promptly nipped in the bud because all the efforts that Government has made in the area of job creation through agriculture will be reversed.
The minister however commended President Muhammadu Buhari for taking steps to combat the challenge and also urged states living in the border areas of the country to take measures to complement the efforts of the Federal Government in this regard.
Speaking recently while on a courtesy visit to the Ogun State Governor, Senator Adekunle Amosun in his office in Abeokuta, Lokpobiri identified Ogun State as one of the areas that is badly affected by this issue of smuggling and appealed to the governor to do everything within his efforts to address the issue.
According to the minister, “The Federal Government has a challenge of smuggling. All the efforts and achievements recorded, both in the fishery sector and in the rice sector, which we are doing excellently well will be reversed if we do not combat the issue of smuggling.”
He identified Ogun State as “One of the areas that is badly affected by this issue of smuggling,” stressing that, “It has a whole lot of problems; it affects our daily existence as a country because today we have been able to create a lot of jobs through agriculture and if smuggling is allowed to continue, the likelihood is that that will be reversed, there will be lot more of social problems.”
The minister revealed that one of the measures put in place by the Federal Government to combat smuggling was the setting up of the committee headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, which he said is working round the clock to ensure that we combat this issue of smuggling.
Besides, Lokpobiri stated that the Federal Government is doing everything humanly possible to ensure that we collaborate with the Republic of Benin, Niger and Chad to check this problem, stressing that, ”That is why the President of Benin visited the President of Nigeria a few weeks ago.”
Ogun State governor in his response also shared his concerns with the minister on the issue of smuggling, noting that, “We are not unaware of those challenges that smuggling poses to our agriculture and that is why we are insisting that all our porous borders should be closed.”
Amosun regretted that his state has the highest number of unmanned borders in the country and disclosed that he was already discussing with the Minister of interior minister and the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration as well as the Nigerian Customs Controller on ways of mitigating the impact of the problem both in the short and long term basis.
SA Media to the Hon. Minister of State