Says FG’s tariffs highest in West Africa
From Fred Itua, Abuja
Senate, yesterday, unanimously rejected the Federal Government’s ban on importation of vehicles through land borders into the country.
The Red Chamber It described the policy as anti-people and meant to further impoverish Nigerians.
Deputy Senate President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu who presided at yesterday’s plenary, specifically urged President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the cries of Nigerians and rescind the decision.
“From the contributions here, it is obvious that the policy is unpopular. We are representatives of the people and the people have spoken through us that they do not want this policy. I think those in government should listen to them,” said Ekweremadu.
Adopting two, of the three prayers, Senate called on Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to, “immediately, suspend further action on the ban on importation of vehicles through our land borders as January 1, 2017.”
Senate Committee on Customs and Excise has been mandated to investigate the circumstances which led to government’s decision.
Sponsor of the motion, Barau Jibrin, from Kano State, explained that the ban would lead to the loss of about 500,000 jobs.
He further argued: “The economy of border villages and towns that depend on the activities of vehicles importation shall be adversely affected, to the detriment of all.
“Since the announcement, through the NCS, Nigerians have spoken out, and they still do, that it is not economically expedient to ban the importation of vehicles through our land borders given the ramification of such a policy on the economy.
Senators who spoke on the issue, condemned the policy.
Immediate past Senate Leader, Ali Ndume said: “Let us not forget the fact that the Constitution says the primary responsibility of government is for the security and welfare of the people. This policy will render so many small businesses useless. My constituents are disturbing me to ensure that this policy is reversed.
“Why can’t Nigeria look at its policy to ensure that our laws are reformed? Senator Dino Melaye said, with the policy, it “is an admittance by Customs that they lack the capacity to mount our borders effectively. As a parliament, we must speak in the interest of the people. We should be seen to be defending the people we are representing here.”
Former Ebonyi State governor, Sam Egwu, said the policy is “an unpopular policy. This is a government that is supposed to bring change and succour to the people. But, they have brought hardship on the people.
“This Senate must stand with the people. We need to defend the people. This government should put on its thinking cap and come up with policies that are beneficial to the people.”
Chairman of the Committee on Works, Kabiru Gaya agreed that, although “this is our government, as legislators, we should speak the truth.
“By stopping importation through land borders, we are creating hardship. Other countries within West Africa region, have lower tariffs. We have to look at this issue.
“Let government man the borders and do the right thing. By this policy, we have created a new unemployment of over 500,000. This policy can increase in the states. We should reverse to the former policy. We should stop this policy.”
The committee headed by Senator Hope Uzodinma, is expected to report back within two weeks.
The Federal Government, recently rolled out new tariffs on imported goods and also placed a total ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders.
Since the policy was introduced, it has generated a mixed reaction, with majority of Nigerians, calling for a reversal of the policy.