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Border closure has more gains than pain for Nigeria – Rice Millers

Irrespective of how people view the border closure, its advantages have been enormous compared to the pains experienced since President Muhammadu Buhari gave the directive.

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Border closure has more gains than pain for Nigeria – Rice Millers

The gains of the land border closure are more than the disadvantage that has risen since the initiative was implemented.

President, Rice Millers Association of Nigeria and the Managing Director of Elephant Group, Tunji Owoeye, has asserted while defending the directive.

Owoeye said irrespective of how people view the border closure, its advantages have been enormous compared to the pains experienced since President Muhammadu Buhari gave the directive. 

[READ ALSO: Border closure bites harder as Customs raid border town market (Opens in a new browser tab)]

The gains are worth the pains: Owoeye said these gains are not only being experienced in rice and other commodities sectors, as it spreads across.

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“From our understanding, the government is not saying that they should not bring goods into Nigeria, but the government has decided that over 1,800 porous routes that they smuggle goods into the country should be properly manned.  

“How much manpower do you want to put at all these illegal routes? Smuggling activities have thrived for long because of the vast area that we have which we now need to secure. It becomes practically impossible for customs to man all of these routes, and because of this, smugglers have taken advantage of the lapses to engage in the illicit trade activities.

“But what the government is saying is that they are not preventing them from bringing goods into Nigeria, but they should go through the seaports or the airports where we can effectively manage the process. So I do not think there is anything bad in closing the border. 

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“Also, in terms of the gains, they are many. It is not only in rice and other commodities sectors. Let us look at poultry; a lot of poultry farmers have had contracts for the next three to five years and local production of poultry products have grown as the sector is currently booming, which was not so before now.”

He also stated that the border closure has dealt – to some extent – with the smuggling problem Nigeria faces. It has improved the security around the border.

Impact of border closure: Owoeye said the closure has led to job opportunities, increasing the employment numbers through agricultural growth, Much more employment is being generated in the agricultural sector. In the poultry sector alone more youths are being attracted into it, not to talk about other agricultural sub-sectors and their value chains. This has made farming more attractive and if it continues, Nigeria would not only become self-sufficient in food production, we will start exporting. 

[READ ALSO: Border closure bites harder as Customs raid border town market (Opens in a new browser tab)]

The problem of border closure: Since the border closure, inflation has risen, prices have increased, affecting the purchasing power of Nigerians. But Owoeye said the rise of inflation will be calmed six months from now.

According to him, production increase will see to the fall of inflation, “Though the inflation rate may be going up now with two to three percent, which is marginal, but I will advise Nigerians to exercise patience because it will pay off in less than six months from now. It will definitely come down because there would be more and more production activities in Nigeria for this policy moves. When you consider textile, rice and every other sectors, you will note a positive shift in terms of sectoral performance. 

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“Besides, the savings Nigeria has made from the petroleum sector shows that Nigeria has been subsidising the product for the whole of West Africa all these years. Over 40 percent of our national budget has been going into petroleum subsidy for the whole of West Africa, but with this policy, we are saving so much from the petroleum products that used to go to other countries free of charge.” 

[READ ALSO: Tolaram to spend $1.1 billion on West Africa’s biggest port (Opens in a new browser tab)]

Border should remain closed: Owoeye said the border should remain closed until Nigeria’s neighbouring countries take necessary steps as requested by Nigeria to beef up border security and stop smuggling.

He said Nigeria can’t keep suffering in silence for the benefit of other countries, “We are not saying that it should not be reopened, but that the neighbouring countries should act according to the ECOWAS treaty. There are terms and conditions of the relationship, all these laws have been there but they have always disregarded it.”

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

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Business

UK moves to seize $39 million from Ibori’s lawyer over role in former Governor’s case

The lawyer who was convicted alongside Ibori may lose his financial asset to the British government.

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British prosecutors have moved to seize about $39.3 million (30.8 million pounds) from a London lawyer, who helped former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, in looting and laundering illegal funds from the oil-rich state.

The British lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, following his conviction in 2010 on 13 counts of money-laundering, and other offenses, over his role in the fraud and money laundering case of James Ibori, who was the former governor of Delta State, from 1999 to 2007.

It can be recalled that the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, was extradited to the United Kingdom from the United Arab Emirates in 2011, and subsequently got convicted on 10 counts of fraud and money laundering. He was handed a 13-year jail term.

Gohil, who was then a partner at a firm in the London district of Mayfair, helped Ibori siphon these stolen funds, through shell companies and offshore accounts. He bought assets such as an English country house and a $20 million private jet. However, the police authorities caught up with the men before the jet was delivered.

The lawyer was also said to have masterminded a fraud, in which $37 million in fake consultancy fees was stolen from two Nigerian states, in connection with the sale of their stakes in a telecoms company in the country.

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The outcome of the case was hailed in Britain and described as a victory for the fight against corruption, while also pledging to return stolen funds to the Nigerian government.

However, the confiscation proceedings against the two culprits have dragged on for almost 10 years, and repeatedly delayed by appeals and complications.

In Ibori’s case, the hearing took place at London’s Southwark Crown Court in January, and prosecutors asked the court to make a confiscation order of 117.7 million pounds against Ibori. The judge has yet to hand down his decision.

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A hearing on Gohil’s case is ongoing at the same court. Lead prosecution counsel, Jonathan Kinnear, on Thursday began setting out the details of what he said was Gohil’s criminal benefit. He will have a chance later in the hearing to call witnesses, and give evidence to dispute the prosecution case.

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Business

Trade remedies needed for African free trade implementation – Tola Onayemi

Onayemi said Trade remedies would protect the market from getting flooded by subsidized goods of foreign companies.

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Trade remedies to protect Nigerian producers from unfair and injurious trade practices from foreign companies that harm domestic industries are key factors for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

This was disclosed by Tola Onayemi, Head, Trade Remedies Unit National office for Trade Negotiations on Thursday at the AfCFTA Sensitization Seminar organized by the National Action Committee of the implementation of the agreement.

Mr. Onayemi said Trade remedies would protect the market from getting flooded by subsidized goods of foreign companies which would be sold below competitive prices for Nigerian producers. “Trade remedies is not protectionism, it’s protection against unfair trade practices,” he said.

He added that the remedies are policy tools used by governments to take remedial action against unfair trade practices by companies and countries which cause injury to domestic industries, after a rules-based investigation.

Onayemi cited WTO and AfCFTA Trade laws which make provisions for trade remedies in trade agreements. He cited Article 17,18,19  and 20 AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods and Annex 9 of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods and the CFTA Guidelines implementation of Trade Remedies in accordance with the relevant WTO agreement. He said the AfCFTA and WTO laws protect against Anti-dumping, which are only applied after a careful analysis has been taken by the host nation.

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Before an application of a trade remedy policy tool can be investigated, there must be an existing legislation/regulation and an Investigating authority recognized by international organizations as the body responsible to investigate and recommend appropriate remedies for each unfair practice. If the investigation has been carried out, and there is proof of government subsidies on the product entering the host market, the difference in price is added at the border, before the goods enter the market.

He added that the key features of any Trade Remedy Mechanism include:

  • Data-driven
  • Technical and Investigation based
  • Independent of any Policy-making Arm
  • Timelines
  • Full Notification and Disclosures ( to WTO/AfCFTA, all Importers, Exporters, Home Countries of investigated importer).

On Nigeria’s Trade Remedy implementation policies, Onayemi mentioned a 3-month On-The-Job-Training for Country Trade Remedy experts held from April-June 2018, the Set-up and meetings of EMT committee on Trade Remedies in 2018, also in 2018 Approval of Nigerian Trade Remedies Infrastructure by EMT and Basic technology frameworks for Trade Remedies Investigation in December 2019.

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Outstanding tasks include the Signing and Publication of Legal Framework of Nigerian trade remedies and the Deployment and launch of Trade Remedies Electronic Platform with integration by the Nigerian Customs, NBS and Finance.

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Tech News

Dell partners firms to launch Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria

Dell Technologies is to establish a Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria.

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Dell Technologies has partnered with some global tech firms to establish a Tech Experience Centre in Nigeria. The centre is a technology project designed to bridge the gap to cutting-edge technologies for millions in the country.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by the company and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.

In the statement, Nicholas Travers, Director, Central and West Africa, Dell Technologies explained that the project, which will be launched on October 1, would save huge costs and capital flight while also boosting technology adoption in Nigeria.

He said, “We believe the Tech Experience Centre will help reduce the decision making cycle and save huge costs and time of traveling to locations outside our continent to visit and experience these technologies at work. This is a fantastic initiative by TD Africa, perhaps the first of its kind in the region and we are proud to be part of it.”

According to him, the project will go a long way in helping Dell Technologies showcase its suite of cutting-edge technologies.

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‘‘The launch of the Experience Centre will support the growth of technology in Nigeria and the West African region. Also, it provides a fantastic platform for Dell Technologies to showcase the very many technologies we offer,” Travers added.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, is expected to commission the Tech Experience Centre, the first of its kind in Africa.

Travers added that the Centre marked the first time global tech giants would come together to establish their respective experience centres under one roof to create a truly immersive and rich experience of latest technologies in action.

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