While the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is boasting that it has made nothing less than N2.5 trillion as a result of the closure of borders, the Northern textiles traders are lamenting of incurring huge losses as a result of the policy.
The Northern textile traders, through their Spokesperson Alhaji Gambo Danpass, said their losses may hit N3 trillion soon if the closure persists. Dampass, in an interview with Sunday Telegraph, said the government should remember that the policy is not only about rice smugglers, but it is also impacting negatively on other genuine business.
He said: “For the past 15 years we have been engaged in genuine businesses of importing and exporting textile materials, due to the death of textile companies in Nigeria as a result of lack of power. We are not doing an illegal business.”
Worried by the biting effect of the sudden closure of the borders, Dampass said:-
“We have over N3 trillion products trapped at the borders, both the ones that were supposed to come in and the ones for other African countries which have all been paid for. In no time, we will become debtors as the interests in the capital will continue to mount if the situation persists.”
The business tycoon said the government should have consulted the stakeholders in the export and import business before unilaterally taking the action they did. “If this had been done, there would have a time frame by which the goods coming in going out would not have been trapped. This would have also earned the government more revenue as duties would have been paid on them.
“The textile companies like the United Nigeria Textile Ltd (UNTL), Kaduna Textile Mills, Arewa Textile, Gaskiya Textile, Asaba Textile, and Lagos Textiles, with several others, are no longer operating and their equipment has gone bad.
Where do we get the materials to sell if not imported? That is why the government must be sensitive to our feeling,” he added. The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hammed Ali (Rtd) has said that the closure of the borders is in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians as rice farmers who previously lacked patronage are now making a fortune as millers are rushing to buy the rice off them and they are happy.
Also, Ali said that in less than six months of closing the borders, Nigeria has made over N2.5 trillion from seized rice and other contrabands. But Dampass differs with the CG and said that millions of Northern businessmen would soon go bankrupt.
“From Kano to Gombe, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Bauchi, Maiduguri, Kwara, Kaduna, and Zamfara people have lost huge sums of money in the form of goods which they imported legally into the country but blocked from getting into the country.
“Don’t misunderstand us, we are not against the closing of the borders for security reasons, but the government should give us the leverage of allowing us to bring what we imported and exports what is been purchased from us, then they can close the borders till eternity,” he explained.
And in a related development, the National Union of Chemical Footwear Rubber Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLANMPE) on Saturday said that the recent border closure by the Federal Government was threatening the jobs of its members.
Mr. Goke Olatunji, NUCFRLANMPE’s President, who fielded questions from journalists after a council meeting in Lagos, said that chemical companies could no longer export goods to neighboring countries.
Olatunji said that chemical companies were threatening to downsize their workers as several goods had remained in the warehouses unsold as a result of the closure.
“Some of the member companies are already lamenting over the poor sale because their products cannot be exported to neighboring countries,” the union president said.
He urged the government to put in place effective monitoring and control measures at the border to curb illicit importation and exportation of outlawed commodities. Olatunji said that the government’s closure of the land borders without considering locally-produced products meant to be exported to neighboring countries should be reviewed.