Buhari In A hurry To Reposition The Economy

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.

Hameed Ali: Customs CG

The Delta state born CBN, governor may  not have  wanted to take the oil palm  Companies unaware by going ahead to implement the Presidential directive  but invited them for a meeting last Friday in Abuja to  inform them of the Presidential  directive. He was said to have prepared their mind for the impending earth quake which will shake the Industry to its foundation.

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 alraedy  aligned himself with the government directive to  the CBN,  as he has  tightened up security at the  Seme Border Community  and the  Owode outstation to ensure that the government directive was not flouted by any importer or exporter.

 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 Companies , stressing that any company found to have  been  involved in economic sabotage through smuggling,  Hoarding or dumping  in the country,  would not only have their accounts blocked but  it would closed outright in the Banks.

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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