The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has expressed satisfaction with the decision of the federal government to close the land borders with the neighboring countries, describing it as the only way through which Nigeria’s anti-smuggling laws could be enforced.
He stated this in Kano on Wednesday while briefing the press in his palace on the sideline of recent appointments into the National Economic Advisory Council by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He blamed the country’s porous land borders for high incidences of tax evasion, which according to him have been turned into escape routes from excise duties and tariffs as well as viable channels for diversion of petroleum products from the country.
The monarch emphasized that closing the borders remains the only option for the country to resuscitate its agricultural sector and develop its economy.
He said: “If you remember when the president came to Kano on an official visit, I actually talk about closing the borders with the Republic of Benin.
I always felt that if you really want to enforce laws that you have against smuggling, you need to close borders. “You have petroleum products moving basically across the borders from Nigeria to neighboring countries because of our fuel subsidies.
You have goods coming in across the border using the port in Cotonou to avoid tax revenues in Lagos; so what happens is we don’t get the revenue from duties and tariffs and then we end up having the goods coming in anyway.
“Closing the borders becomes indispensable because our neighboring countries are not helping us to protect our economy. For instance, if you want to protect rice farmers, you have to impose heavy taxation on importation of foreign rice into the country.
“Therefore, any country that allows smuggling of rice into Nigeria through its borders is doing that at the expense of our farmers who could not withstand competition with foreign producers.
Besides rice and other food items, you must also understand that all the illicit drugs get into this country through the land borders.
“So sometimes it is important to take these difficult decisions so that we get the cooperation and collaboration of Customs officials across the borders.
It is something that I wholeheartedly support. I think it is temporary and I think it will lead to improvement,” the monarch emphasised.