Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development Heineken Lokpobiri has suggested that the country can tackle smuggling to a standstill if traders stop patronising smugglers.
Lokpobiri, deploring the high rate of the menace, stated this at the weekend when the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) launched a sensitization campaign against smuggling in Abuja. He added that traders should rather alert relevant authorities when confronted with such goods.
The minister claimed that most of the smuggled goods were preserved with poisonous substances which causes cancer after consumption.
“You may not know the significance of what you are doing. One fundamental problem we have in this country is smuggling.
“The Federal Government has attached so much importance to this trouble that the committee set up to stem smuggling is headed by the vice president.
“One point that we have always made is the collaboration with the traders. But no matter the effort we make smuggling will continue. But if the traders do not buy smuggled products that is the beginning of the end of smuggling.
“I want to assure you of the support of the Federal Government,” he said.
He challenged NANTS to sustain the tempo of enlightening Nigerians not just within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but across the country.
“I want to enjoin you to sustain the campaign. It should not just be a one day campaign. There is smuggling of every products..
“This campaign should not only take place in Abuja, but across the country. The truth is that it is either we kill smuggling or it will kill us.
“CBN said we have saved about $21 billion from food important. Before this government came in, we used to spend over $30 billion importing foodstuffs. Because for every imported product you buy you are sustaining job abroad,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Leader of NANTS, Ruth Agbo, whose members carried placards with inscriptions like ‘Carbide is not good on any food. Don’t use it’, ‘Encourage Nigerian processors’, ‘Patronise Nigerian foodstuffs’ and ‘Illegal importation of foods kills job,’ vowed to sustain the sensitization and to ensure that the problem is curbed.