The Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali has insisted that the border closures will continue for a while irrespective of the pressure from the neighbouring nations for its opening.
He said that Nigeria has to first think of her survival before considering the impact of the closure on neighbours.
According to him, Nigeria must lay the foundation for its growth to prop her industrialists to reason and grow.
Without taking the strategic step to sanitise her system, the Customs boss said Nigeria will become a dumping growth for all manner of products when the African Continental Free Trade takes off in earnest.
He spoke as the Special Guest of Honour at the Graduation Ceremony of Senior Course 3 in of the Nigerian Customs and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja.
He was thankful to the Nigerian Police Force, whom he said their support for the border closure was awesome.
He noted that Nigeria is blessed with the population of 200 million that can consume all her products, which renders the immediate needs for external patronage inexpedient.
He recalled that the Chinese had shut their borders for over two decades, a development he claimed make it the strongest economy.
His words: ” It is our hope that the boarder drill will continue for a while so that we cannot only sanitize our process but we can also lay the foundation for our growth and development because that is what we need to get our industrialists think and grow.
“If we don’t do that we are going to be in deep problem. By the time we begin to operate the African Continental Free Trade, Nigeria will be a dumping ground for every product from Africa. So, we need to be able to develop our capacity to be able to meet our requirements in terms of goods and services so that we can keep at bay the influx of other goods.
“If we don’t, these goods will come and our industries will continue to die. So we look forward to a situation whereby our industrialists will capitalize on this drill that we are doing so that they can grow and provide those things that we need. The Chinese closed their doors for over 20 years and now they are on top.
“We need to close our own. There is nothing that is being produced today that we cannot consume in Nigeria. Our industrialists do not have to look outward to find the market, we have it right here. And we need to grow that market.
“I hope that Nigerians will agree with us that while we are doing this drill, I know that our neighbours are in a haste to get us open the boarders, I think we need to look at our strategic interest first before looking at other people.
“I remember that I always tell people when they confront me that why are you doing this to our neighbours, I say look even in the aircraft if the say when there is an oxygen mast dropping even your own child, they say out your own oxygen mast before your own child, this is because you have to save yourself to get the child to survive. We must as Nigerians survive and flourish for our neighbour to also flourish.”
Kaduna Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, also expressed support for the closure of the borders.
According to him, the boarders should remain closed as long as possible for local manufacturers to develop.
He said: “Don’t forget that those that are preaching the reopening of the boarders today, closed their boarders for 20 years. Nigeria must grow on its internal capacity. We will not allow our neighbours to use the porosity of our boarders to sabotage our economy.”
Nigeria Has Global Highest HIV-Infected Babies — Health Minister
The Minister of State for Health, Senator Adeleke Mamora, has said that Nigeria has the highest number of babies infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, adding that the Federal Government would therefore sustain HIV prevention and treatment activities nationwide.
The minister noted that the government would commit “sufficient resources to both HIV prevention and treatment in order to stay on track to end the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome by 2030.
Mamora stated these in Abuja on Thursday at the launching of the Faith-based Action for Scaling up of Testing and Treatment for Epidemic Response project in Nigeria.
The project is sponsored by the Catholic Relief Services and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
The minister said, “Over the years, the government has put in place several response mechanisms towards reducing the burden of HIV and AIDS in the country, as evidenced by the reduction in the HIV prevalence from the 3.1 per cent to 1.4 in the last survey.
“It has been discovered that majority of children infected with the HIV are living in sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria having more HIV infected babies than anywhere else in the world. HIV prevention and treatment activities must therefore be sustained and the momentum increased if the country and the world at large are to stay on track to end AIDS by 2030.
“This launch of the Catholic Relief Services’ FASTER project is at the right time to bridge the identified gaps, especially in pediatric HIV diagnosis and treatment. The six priority actions of the project are as follows; streamline regulatory approval, integrate service delivery, expand diagnostic platforms, evaluate and expand on novel HIV testing approaches, implement validated HIV risk screening checklist and optimise paediatric Anti-Retroviral Therapy.”
The project director in Nigeria, Dr Emeka Anoje, said the programme being implemented in the seven states of Rivers, Benue, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“The project is designed to accelerate progress in pediatric HIV diagnosis and treatment in countries that have high unmet need for child and adolescent antiretroviral therapy. These countries include Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia,” Anoje added.
FG Suspends Turkish Airlines
The Nigerian government has suspended the operations of Turkish Airlines in the country due to the airline’s perceived poor treatment of passengers.
Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) director-general Abdullahi Sidi in a letter said the suspension might continue “if no remedial action is carried out by the airline.”
Sidi expressed displeasure on frequent cases of the airline leaving passengers en route into Nigeria behind despite having checked-in their luggage.
“This issue had made passengers carry out several mob actions at our airport and it was a great threat to our airport facilities,” Sidi said.
Sidi insisted that the suspension will continue until the airline is willing to operate with the size of aircraft that can transport all passengers with their baggage.
The NCAA boss disclosed that the complaints against Turkish Airlines have been ongoing for two weeks.
He said it was so bad that most recent Turkish Airlines’ flights arrived in Nigeria without more than 85 per cent of passengers’ baggage on board.
Sidi said a series of meetings had been held by the authority and the airline but did not yield results.
“The NCAA is therefore left with no option than to direct Turkish Airlines to suspend its operations into Nigeria until such a time when the airline is ready to operate with the right size of aircraft that can transport all passengers with their baggage at the same time.”
Court Orders Arrest Of Ex-Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Maduke
A high court in Adamawa has ordered the arrest of Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources, for allegedly giving a bribe of N362 million to INEC officials to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.
Nathan Musa, the judge, gave this order on Thursday while delivering judgement against Ibrahim Umar and Sahabo Hamman, two staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who received the bribe from Alison-Madueke.
The judge directed Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police (IGP), to liaise with the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) to ensure that the former petroleum minister is arrested.
In a statement, Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the former minister and three others were charged “for allegedly deploying over N362million derived from a $115m slush fund to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential elections in favour of the candidate of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)”.
Count two of the charge read: “That you, Ibrahim Mohammed Umar, Sahabo Iya Hamman and Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke (now at large) sometime between March and May 2015 in Yola, Adamawa state, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, while being a public officer working with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and retired public servant and former minister of petroleum resources (now at large) and in capacities, did corruptly procure monetary benefit of three hundred and sixty-two million naira, (N362,000,000.00) in favour of public officers and staff working with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Adamawa State, contrary to and punishable under Section 9 (1) (a) & (b) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”
Alison-Madueke, who fled Nigeria shortly after she left office in 2015, has been named in several corruption cases pending in different courts in the country.
Some of these cases have been stalled owing to her absence.
The EFCC said it is working at extraditing the former minister from the United Kingdom.