The Senate, on Wednesday, rejected Federal Government’s ban on the importation of vehicles through the land borders in the country.
It described the policy as anti-people and meant to further impoverish Nigerians.
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who presided, specifically urged President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the cries of Nigerians and rescind the decision.
Ekweremadu noted: “From the contributions made, it is obvious that the policy is unpopular. We are representatives of the people and the people have spoken through us that they do not want this policy. I think those in government should listen to them.”
Adopting two of the three prayers, the Senate called on Customs Service to immediately suspend further action on its policy of an outright ban on the importation of vehicles through our land borders as from 1st January, 2017.
The Senate Committee on Customs and Excise was mandated to investigate the circumstances that led to the sudden decision of the Federal Government on the issue of the importation of vehicles through the land borders.
Sponsor of the motion, Senator Barau Jibrin from Kano State, explained that the ban would lead to the loss of about 500,000 jobs by the people engaged in the business of vehicle importation and handling services in the border areas and around the country.
“Since the announcement, through the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerians have spoken out, and they still do, that it is not economically expedient to ban the importation of vehicles through our land borders given the ramification of such a policy on the economy.
“The decision was ostensibly premised on the allegation that the importation of vehicles through the land borders no longer holds good prospect for revenue generation because of the large scale evasion of import duties,” he argued.
Senators who took their turns to speak on the issue, condemned the policy. Ali Ndume, while making his remarks, said: “Let us not forget the fact that the constitution says the primary responsibility of government is for the security and welfare of the people. This policy will render so many small businesses useless. My constituents are disturbing me to ensure that this policy is reversed.
“Why can’t Nigeria look at its policy to ensure that our laws are reformed? The era where people stay in their offices and make policies that are detrimental to the welfare of the people is wrong. I call on this Senate to pass this motion with teeth. This resolution should be implemented when passed.”
Dino Melaye said: “We are in a precarious situation in this country. We are at a time when people live per and not sure where the next meal will come from. This government needs to consider the welfare of the people. In enacting any policy, we must look at the social impacts.
“This policy announcement, to me, is an admittance by Customs that they lack the capacity to mount our borders effectively. As a parliament, we must speak in the interest of the people. We should be seen to be defending the people we are representing here.”
Former Ebonyi State Governor, Sam Egwu stated: “Yesterday (Tuesday), an unpopular policy was discussed here about the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. This is a government that is supposed to bring change and succour to the people.
“But they have brought hardship on the people. This Senate must stand with the people. We need to defend the people. This government should put on its thinking cap and come up with policies that are beneficial to the people.”
The committee headed by Senator Hope Uzodinma, is expected to report back within two weeks.
By Ehisuan Odia….
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