The Federal Government is to shut down the land border between Nigeria and a neigbouring country in a few days time to avoid smuggling of foreign rice into the country. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, made the disclosure in Abuja yesterday while speaking with youths in a leadership clinic under the auspices of Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI).
According to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report, Ogbeh, who did not mention the particular country and border, said the planned action had become necessary to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country.The minister said that a neighbouring country was bent on destroying the economy of Nigeria and discouraging local production of rice, hence the need to shut down the border.
“Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbour of ours is importing more rice than China is importing. They do not eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice, they use their ports to try and damage our economy.
“I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear the border has been shut, we are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy. You will start seeing all sorts of negative things on the internet.
On why the border must be shut, Ogbeh further said: “ I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones. If you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials gets into the rice.“There are three kinds of water in their natural state; there is fresh water from the river, salt water from the sea, blackish water. If you go to the Delta in many countries, in South East Asia where they grow the rice, if you plant rice in the same place like four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase and arsenic causes cancer and that is what they are dumping for us.
“Some people say they prefer Thai rice because they are very sophisticated, welcome to poison.’’According to the minister, the Federal Government, in two years, reduced rice importation by 95 per cent and increased the number of rice farmers from five million to 30 million.
The minister said states like Anambra, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano and Jigawa were doing well in rice production.“We just have to handwork you to prosperity otherwise, this country will not grow. My wish for you is to have a better time that we had,’’ Ogbeh said.
The President of GOTNI, Dr. Linus Okorie, commended the minister for sharing prosperity experiences with the youth. Okorie noted that the leadership clinic was organised by GOTNI to expose young people to practical leadership principle for life success.“A lot of young people are asking questions, seeking answers to their questions. They wish that they have an experienced person who will hold them by the hands and show them the way to achieve success.”