Customs: Border Closure, Inflation Reaches An All Time High-NBS

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

Officials of the National   Bureau of Public Statistics, NBS, which is a government  agency that  gives a monthly statistical  report  about the state of the economy are no longer  finding  it funny about the three-old  Border closure with the neighboring Republic of Benin, Niger, Tchad and the Central African country of Cameroon. This is because of the rising inflationary rate in the economy.

The agency officials source of anger was that the rate of  inflation in the country is growing  astronomically  and needed  to be tackled before it turns into hyper- inflation. The Bureau in its latest report  had given its verdict on the economy: ‘’ Inflation  rate in the country  has reached an all-time of  11.6 percent  high. The NBS had lamented that it was worse in the month of October  but giving   no sign of improving, an indication that Nigerians are in  for  hard time.

Hameed Ali: CG Customs

This is where  Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central  Bank of Nigeria, CBN, who is managing the government fiscal and monetary policies  and Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, who is, enforcing the government fiscal policies at the  seaports,Cargo  and International Airports , including the  Land Borders  across the country  to have a rethink over the  Border closure and present the  true situation report of the state of the economy to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, particular,  Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the Terminal Operators , may want to give the impression that cargo traffic at the ports have been on the increase since the Border Closure  which means more money entering into  government coffers.

The question on the lips of most people is: what is the point of the NCs, and other the  government agencies including the Nigerian National petroleum Corporation  , NNPC, generating trillions of naira for the government  which  could not  make any meaningful   impact on the economy .  The fear in unofficial quarters was that the country  was  heading towards becoming  another Zimabwe,   where the economy has been eaten up by inflation , thus making their local currency worthless in the foreign exchange market.

The NBS report should worry the CBN governor, particular, but he would not take it that the inflationary rate in the economy was getting worse. He had  stopped short at describing  the Bureau  as alarmists. The CBN governor may have spoken the mind of Zainab Ahmed, the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, when he  granted interiews to Channels Televison, stressing that   the ‘’benefits of the Border Closure far out- weighs the adverse effects being bandied about by the NBS.

Babagana Munguno: NSA And Chairman, Border Drills

 Aithough, Emefiele , may have known that the officials of the National Bureau of Statics were right in their claim of  the  rising inflationary rate in the economy  but could not agree with them to avoid putting  himself in bad light before the Cabal in the Presidency . More also, he did not want to give room to the Presidential Advisory Council, PAC, which have the ears of the President ,  to rubbish the  efforts of the CBN , in running the country’s economy.

Curiously enough, he CBN, governor  may not have totally disagreed with the NBS, report, as he  had told the  Channels  Television interviewers  that that the ‘’Border Closure   had actually resulted  in some supply shortages because of the goods  that are dumped  into the country which are no more because of the of  the Border Drills, comprising of various security agencies including the NCS and the Nigerian Imigration Service, NIS. The Border Drills which is   coordinated by Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General  and National Security Adviser, NSA,  across the country had resulted in the closure of the various Borders across the country.

Note that the CBN  boss , had always made the Katsina state born politician and Nigerian President   to believe  that  the border  closure has’’ benefited Nigerians’’  insisting   people are getting jobs as  ‘’Companies which were almost  crippled because of unfair competition with  cheap smuggled goods had bounced  back to life  as their manufactured goods now get adequate patronage from local Consumers  .

 According to him, ‘’farmers who produce poultry products are gradually getting  a foothold on the economy to sell in the Nigerian market  as all unapproved routes used by smugglers to carry out their nefarious activities  had been blocked by the Border Drills security operative, Federal Operations Units, FOU, and the  CGC trike Force  across the country. Only recently, the  CGC, Lagos Zonal , Strike Force,  in an operation led by one Jack Okpabi, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, CSC, had impounded  over  1.3 million cartoons of poultry products at a smugglers Hideout at Sango Otta, ogun state

Many believe that  both for the quick intervention of the CGC Strike Force  , based on intelligence gathering, the hundreds  cartons  of the smuggled  poultry products  hidden  in a secret location at the Sango Otta would have been pushed into the Nigerian market  which could have destalised  the local poulty farmers. This is because farmers may not had  been able to sell  their  locally produced poultry products  until the smuggled ones  which had wide  patronage are sold.

 With the intensified anti-smuggling operations  and improved revenue collection by the revenue generating agencies matched by good government policies,Emefiele the CBN ,helmsman is optimistic  that the rising inflationary rate  which had had peaked  in the month of October , 2019, to 11.61 from the previous month of 11.24 percent , will ‘’moderate aggressively downwards  in the next  three to four months’’ .This is good news for Nigerians  if this prediction could become a reality.

He may have spoken as a top  government  functionary    who has an insider information about the state of the state of the country’s economy.   But in spite of the CBN governor  assurance of a drop in inflation in the country, not may traders believe him. Take the Complaints of an Lagos based  dealer of Food stuffs   who lamented  that suppliers had virtually added  money to their  Agricultural products including locally produced rica, Garri and poultry products., The trader  noted that  it is not what one  paid for a  bag of white or red garri today, that he could get it from the supplier the next yay, ‘s economy an indication that astronomical rise in inflationary rate in the country was real as revealed by the NBS.

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