By Stephen Ubanna
Importers who have contravened the country’s fiscal policy to ship prohibited items, particular the 41 prohibited items, which was later increased to 43 by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, including textile materials are in trouble as President Muhammadu Buhari, who is in a hurry to reposition the nation’s economy beams his searchlight on them.
This is because the Katsina state born Nigerian President has given the nod to the CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele, the governor, to go ahead and blacklist any Company and deal with the owner and other top management found to have been smuggling or dumping foreign oil palm into the country. There have been allegations making the rounds over the years that most of the oil palm based Companies have turned the country into a dumping ground for foreign processed vegetable oil, particular, Malaysian oil palm vegetable oil.
Reliable sources informed The Value News that the CBN , had earlier planned to blacklist such Companies but could not summon the courage to do so because he needed Presidential approval.
He knew that the intervention of the President would force the Companies to comply with the decision. The CBN , governor, was said to have taken up the matter with the President who gave him the approval to blacklist the companies that have been deceiving the government in the guise of engaging in oil palm farming to produce processed vegetable oil for local consumption and export to other West African and Central African markets. , The companies were said to have been importing the oil palm from the Asian country of Malaysia, thus turning the country into a dumping country.
The Delta state born CBN,
Talking tough, the CBN, governor was said to have made it clear to them that it is no longer going to be business as usual for them, warning that those caught smuggling oil palm into the country would be blacklisted from all banking transactions and would also be blocked from accessing the official foreign exchange market.
He may have sent a signal to those who are still importing oil palm and declare it as hydrogenated vegetable fats to watch it as a day of reckoning has come. An aggrieved Emefiele who could not hide his feelings noted that despite the huge financial support given to the oil palm farmers, the impact are yet to be felt on the economy in terms of employment generation.
Giving an insider information, he revealed that about N30 billion had already been disbursed to those currently involved in oil palm farming by the current Administration. Reeling out figures to support his claims at the meeting with the oil palm farmers, he stop short at saying that they have disappointed the nation. He ,however, has good news for, the new entrants into the oil palm business as the President has thrown his weight behind him to extend ”credit facilities to them through their banks as well as organise out-grower schemes equally for them.
Business analysts believe that the President may be doing everything within his powers to encourage oil palm farming in the recent time , because of the government’s plans to ban outright importation of palm oil into the country. He recalled that in the’ 50s and ’60s, Nigeria, used to be the largest producer of oil palm in the world with a market share of 40 percent .
The President’s anger against the oil palm firms , according to Presidency sources, was because the country oil palm farmers have lost the market to the Asian country of Malaysia, which in the past had imported oil palm seeds from Nigeria to cultivate in their country. There is no gain saying the fact that Malaysian and some other Asian countries have taken over the oil palm farming business from Nigeria, that the one-time leading oil palm producer has become net importer of the oil palm.
While the oil palm importers may have cause to worry, over the Presidential directive to the CBN,, the government have good news for the firms and individuals who have plans to expand their Agricultural produce into ten different farming products. The President was said to have mandated Emefiele, the CBN, governor , to provide ” support to such firms and individuals that could into production of rice, Cassava, Maize, tomatoes, cotton, oil palm, poultry, fish, livestock and cocoa .
The Presidential directive to the CBN, according to, maritime watchers has thrown a big challenge to Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and his officials at the seaports and the land Border Areas , including officials of the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, across the country. The CBN governor expects the NCS to keep a close tab on the importers to ensure they do the right thing.
The Customs Comptroller general may have given a marching order to the Area Comptrollers to ensure that the examination officers properly examine all the imports into the country and exports to ensure they comply with the country fiscal policy .
Muhammed Uba Garba, Comptroller, Seme Command, over-seeing the Seme-Krake Joint Border, the busiest international Border route in Africa has alr
Note that the CBN, governor, has identified smuggling and dumping as the major challenges of the country’s economic policies and has vowed to use the instrumentality of being the financial regulator of the nation’s banking system to ensure that the guilty Companies are blacklisted by getting the banks to provide all the necessary details about the firms which are involved in smuggling oil palms and turning the country into a dumping ground for Malaysia oil palms.
The CBN, helmsman who is determined to get at the smugglers has threatened to investigate the accounts of the oil palm
Already, the apex Bank governor, has asked the Commercial Banks operating in the country, to close the identified guilty companies accounts and those of their management Staff that might be sent them soon. Emefiele , who is working closely with Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, has promised to release the names of the Companies and the individuals that had been caught in the act or dumping of oil palm in Nigeria . This is bad news for the oil palm Companies which have been smiling to Banks over the years as the game is over.
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