By Comrade Jubrin Abdulmalik,
Nigeria remain the economic giant of Africa as evidently revealed by statistics and recurrent circumstances. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had over the years shown serious concerns and attentions towards ensuring that rapid economic recovery is achieved thereby graduating to sustainability through the support of stakeholders in the various sectors of the nation.
As we all know that no nation can develop without taking bold step towards resisting all avoidable neo-colonialism tendencies capable of enslaving her citizens and relegating the economic fortunes as well as pride investments of the nation to its lowest ebb.
While corruption can only be perceived as a problem biting hard in all sectors of the nation, accomplices of such act are nothing but rebels and saboteurs who are hindering the laudable initiatives of Federal Government through its monetary and regulatory agencies.
However, it is saddened to note that Nigeria’s economy is heading to a severe point of collapse due to the many havocs precipitated by some Government Monitoring Agencies especially those who are directly involved in the economic and security sectors respectively.
Investigation into the nation’s port management and pre-shipment management has revealed that the nation’s security has been exposed to abuse, gross misconducts, undue connivance as well as aiding and abetting illegal importation of substandard products into the country at the detriment of the masses.
To our dismay, the unpatriotic moves have over the years significantly affected the Textile Industry in the past and most recently, the nation’s steel industry because smugglers had enjoyed the protection of the Standard Organization of Nigeria, (SON) and the Nigeria Customs Service thereby channelling all manners of goods into the nation.
It would be recalled that the federal government had imposed 45 percent Import Duties on foreign products that are successfully being manufactured locally, in order to protect local manufacturers but unfortunately, findings have revealed that little or nothing paid by dealers who have successfully flooded the nation imported items that are even substandard and dangerous for usage in Nigeria. This is condemnable, frivolous, unwarranted and uncharitable to the present administration. There is a deep hole in national security. There is a big alarm required to close massive revenue loss, threat on economic activities as well as, the future of Nigerians.
Surprisingly, smuggled substandard steel products are freely traded in all markets in Nigeria thereby subjecting local manufacturers to serious economic and social investment misfortune. A silent question is, where are agencies like the Nigeria Custom Service, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the Nigeria Customs Service despite the efforts of the Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractices and Department of State Service (DSS).
Our investigations have showed clearly that given the grave dangers of the smuggling of steel products, the Federal Government of Nigeria should act fast and now. The nation must immediately enforce all investors protective policies that will put a stop to the activities of these economic saboteur.
Although, the Standard Organization of Nigeria, (SON), had reacted to an allegation of non-performace leveled against its officials by the Galvanized, Iron and Steel Manufacturers Association, (GISMA) clearing the air that some manufacturers usually escape its scrutiny through other agency i.e the Nigeria Customs Service due to its lack of security enforcement operational technique.
There exist a cartel of economic saboteurs who import huge volume of containers every week valued at about $5m which were never captured under the correct HS code 7210.30.00.00 – 7210.50.00.00 of Nigerian Customs Service portal, making the Federal Government of Nigeria to lose an estimated revenue of about N1billion monthly on these smuggled items due to the neglect of pre-inspection of any container coming into the country which was hither-to the practice in Nigeria prior to current administration emanating from wrong declaration and conspiracy with Releasing Customs Officers and non-proper monitoring of the usage of private jetty and lack of security in lonely ports.
According to a newspaper report, “Business Day of May 1st 2019” it was disclosed that this has however led to the untimely collapse of the Western Metal Products Company (WEMPCO) which has 700,000tons capacity while 14,000 people lost their jobs being one of the major players in the steel manufacturing ventures. GISMA said as a body under the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has been battling for some time with what he called this dismal economic sabotage which may lead to the collapse of up to 60 per cent of manufacturers in the production process while its members may soon lay-off about 20, 000 workers nationwide.
There is urgent need for the federal government to put in place mechanism that will allow for adequate inspection, clearing, loading and releasing of consignments with genuine identification numbers and codes in order to reduce to the barest minimum, the smuggling of dangerous weapons posing threat on the peace and security of the nation.
It is therefore a statement of fact that the activities of smugglers have largely dented the noble objectives of the Federal Government Economic Growth and Recovery Plan for the steel sector of the Nigerian economy and it our strong advocacy for reformed and proactive Customs Service Operation under the leadership of Col. Hamid Ali (rtd) because such dastard acts started in 2016 under his watch and continue to gain prominence since then.
Finally, BEFORE NIGERIA’S ECONOMY COLLAPSES there is need to emphasise on the fact that the local steel manufacturers in the industry have the required potential and capacity to meet the nation’s annual demand, which predicated on Central Bank of Nigeria and Bureau of Statistics placement of galvanised and coloured corrugated roofing sheets and wire nails under the 41 items restricted for Foreign Exchange with the support of Budget Office.
We hereby appeal to the authority of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), to assist President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON and the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to succeed more in the economic policies aimed at driving industrial revolution in Nigeria.
Comrade Jubrin Abdulmalik is the National Coordinator Social Integrity Network.