Senate calls for suspension of ban on vehicle importation through land borders

Chambers of the Nigerian Senate used to illustrate the story.

The Senate has called on the Federal Government to suspend the enforcement of ban on importation of vehicles through land borders.

This followed the unanimous adoption of a motion by Barau Jibrin (APC-Kano), which was co-sponsored by four other senators, on Wednesday.

The Senate also mandated its Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff to investigate the circumstances that led to the ban by the Federal Government.

Mr. Jibrin said the ban would lead to loss of no fewer than 500, 000 jobs.

According to him, people engaged in the business of vehicle importation and handling services in the border areas are already losing their jobs.

Mr. Jibrin said that it was disheartening that such policy would be implemented knowing that it would create hardship, particularly for border villages that depended on the activities to survive.

“Since the announcement through the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerians have spoken out and they still do.

“They maintain that it is not economically expedient to ban the importation of vehicles through land borders.

“It is a concern that the decision was ostensibly premised on the allegation that the importation of vehicles through land borders no longer holds good prospect for the revenue generation because of large scale evasion of import duties.

“But, rather than stop or suspend the importation of vehicles, it would make better economic sense to allow the importation of vehicles through one border post in each geopolitical zone,’’ he said.

The chairman of Senate Committee on Poverty Alleviation, Ali Wakili, declared total support for stoppage of the ban.

He said from his experience as a former Controller of Customs, it would be difficult for the government to implement such policy.

Mr. Wakili said the after-effect of the policy would be more than what the government intended to achieve.

“I am in total support of what the Federal Government is going to do to ensure that the budget is implemented in terms of revenue generation.

“But, it will be very difficult for us to impose this ban. The Custom Service will be overstretched; there will be hostilities from the border communities and there will be rise in transnational crimes,’’ he said.

He reminded the lawmakers that Nigeria was “ big brother’’ to other countries in West African, and pointed out that the ban would affect its relationship with those countries.

Former Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, said Section 14 (2b) of the Constitution stated that the purpose of governance was security and welfare of citizens.

According to him, the situation had led to rise in unemployment and poverty, and anything that would create employment should not be discouraged.

“Government policies must be popular because the government is for the people. If you are coming up with new policies, you should engage stakeholders and know what to do.

“And, if this policy will be implemented, there should be time line so that people that will be affected will find alternatives,’’ he said.

Also supporting the motion, Vice Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Shehu Sani, said enforcing policy would have adverse effect on the economy, contrary to what government planned to achieve.

“This is one country out of so many that has decided to strangulate a large section of its populace that live within the land borders.

“The country is also strangulating businesses that have provided jobs to hundreds of thousands and millions of Nigerians,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, said it was necessary for the Federal Government to revisit the policy, which many Nigerians were not comfortable with.

He said because the government was accountable to the people, “the executive should yield to the concerns of the people by suspending the ban because we are in office at their instance.

“Whatever policy we introduce must meet the expectations of the people and I hope government will respect the views of the people and the senate.

“The issue concerns our people and democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people, and the business of government is the people and the people are our employers.

“So, if they said this is what they want, we should respect their stand.’’(NAN)


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  • olat

    Wrong people with wrong opinons on good decision by the federal government.
    D policy is a short term measure to seek for negotiation that will b favourable for the country. D senators shd ve called for opening of another sea port in d South-South, South-East and North for Vehicles importation n agricultural exports only. we need the revenues for our economy and not others.

  • NonPartisanElder

    Hooray! The lobby of importers of motor vehicles have reached them effectively. Which African countries produce motor vehicles that are necessarily imported into Nigeria through a land route? We should call for a total ban, on land or sea, to force government, industry, universities and polytechnics to seriously commit to designing and producing our own vehicles. Over 50 years ago, a country committed to land man on the moon. It achieved the vision within 10 years. Let us commit today to make our own motor vehicles.

  • Rommel

    How on earth can a normal well meaning citizen of Nigeria be asking government to approve smuggling as a means of livelihood? are there vehicles manufactured in the said land bordering nations?

  • Sylvanus Ikhide

    I think the Senate was hasty on this. The practice all over the world is to protect your local industry. There is no way we can encourage local assembly or manufacturing if we continue to import cars from all over the world. The jobs created through local assembly and the spin-offs far outweighs the “jobs” we are creating through smuggling. Most countries in Africa that derive revenue from the automotive industry and create jobs in the sector have completely banned the importation of used vehicles. Others who have not done so have put in place strict measures to ensure that appropriate taxes are paid and that quality is maintained. We cannot do any of these if we continue to encourage importation overland. I see the decision of government to restrict importation to the ports as a first step towards ensuring quality since better inspection is carried out via the ports, and ultimately towards imposing a total ban on imported “used vehicles”. This will also help to boost government badly needed revenue in the short run. Lawmakers must not be seen as making laws that are completely at variance with the long-term goals of structural transformation of the Nigerian economy. I appeal to Senate to do more home work on this matter.

  • Nwabunike Harvey Ifeanyi

    acquiring a vehicle already costs a fortune, imagine what will happen if the ban s enforced. i want to commend the senates position on this.