From Magnus Eze, Abuja
Nigeria may close its borders with Benin Republic to stem smuggling of rice and other consumables as well as the illegal importation of weapons into the country.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who expressed government’s displeasure over the porosity of the Seme border, said, it has rubbished efforts of the present administration in diversifying the economy, especially, through agriculture. He warned that government may be forced to take very drastic measures.
Speaking in Abuja when the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, led by its chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, visited the ministry, yesterday, as part of its oversight functions, Ogbeh recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had threatened to shut the border but was prevailed upon by the then President of Benin Republic, Mr. Boni Iyayi, to rescind the decision.
“If that border will be a threat to the survival of Nigeria; we may decide to take very drastic action,” Ogbeh stated.
On his part, Senator Adamu urged government not to succumb to propaganda.
of those he described as powerful importers, who, according to him, “are bent on keeping farmers in foreign lands in business,” while their Nigerian counterparts live in penury.
He added that “the 70 percent tariff on rice should be maintained and progressed, proportionally, as the deadline for rice importation draws nearer.”