The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) on Thursday raised the alarm over the “substandard” quality of rice consumed by Nigerians.
In a statement issued after its meeting, Abulrazaque Bello-barkindo, its head of media and public affairs, called on the Nigeria customs service to urgently address the situation.
The governors expressed worry over the “huge consignment of rice” that is still finding its way into the Nigerian market.
They accused the former administration of creating room for the importation of the rice by issuing “a very liberal import licence regime to its election financiers.”
They said while some bulk of the consignment was stale, others were “either rejected in other countries or had overstayed in various warehouses before they found their way into Nigeria through the activities of some unscrupulous elements.”
The governors, therefore, expressed concern that Nigerians were either falling sick or losing their lives to the consumption of these “substandard products”.
They also summoned the Nigeria customs service to explain the situation so that a solution could be proffered.
Dangaladima Aminu, a deputy comptroller general of the service, who represented the comptroller-general, admitted that there is an upsurge in the smuggling of rice through the nation’s land borders.
He, however, said that there has been no alterative to the prohibition on the importation of rice through Nigeria’s land borders.
Aminu said rice was usually smuggled into the country through unauthorised border routes which span more than 4000km.
He added that the smugglers were aided by border communities “who alternated between motorcycles, canoes and rafts to smuggle contraband rice into the country.”
“A motorcycle can make up to 30 trips with six 50kg bags of rice per night depending on the distance and when the border communities are not smuggling the produce themselves, they are aiding or providing cover for smugglers,” he said.
He, informed the governors that the service “takes the issue of smuggling of rice seriously, having identified the danger posed by it to the economic well-being and health hazards it constitutes to the Nigerian people.”