President Muhammadu Buhari says domestic fuel consumption in Nigeria has dropped by 30 percent since his administration took the decision to close all land borders.
Receiving a delegation of Katsina State Elders Forum at his country home in Daura, the president said his government’s directive will save the country billions of naira on import bills.
According to statement by Garba Shehu, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, two months into closure of Nigeria’s land border to curb smuggling activities, especially rice, Buhari’s administration is betting on same measure to rekindle the agriculture sector.
President Buhari said he had not given any date for the reopening of the land border until the situation improves.
The President commended the actions taken by Muhammadou Youssoufou, the President of Niger Republic, including the dismissal of officials and a ban on the use of the country as a dumping ground for Nigeria-bound smuggled goods.
President Buhari noted that the measures taken by the President of Niger were helpful and supportive.
President Buhari acknowledged the hardship of border communities following the ban on the sale of fuel at stations 20 kilometres to the border, a restriction that also saw to the closure of all fuel stations in his native home, Daura.
”Farmers must be protected. Dishonesty is deep-rooted in the country. Otherwise the border closer would not have been warranted,” he said.
According to him, the restriction was a temporary measure as the Nigerian Customs Service needed to ascertain outlets involved in real sale of products and those being used for smuggling.
President Buhari told the delegation that he intends forging ahead with poverty alleviation schemes and the agricultural and livestock reforms started by the administration in the first term, since the election was behind him and a government now in place.
He explained that the reforms, especially those relating to the settlement of livestock herders would take time to accomplish, assuring that his deliberate choice of tested farmers as his past and current ministers of agriculture was informed by the need to carry his vision through.
Aliyu Saulawa, the representative of the chairman of the elders forum, commended the achievements of President Buhari and Aminu Masari, governor of Katsina State in curbing the menace of bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers.
He, however, drew a long list of requests which included a special intervention fund to assist victims of attacks, completion of the 10 megawatts wind power project in the state, setting up of a North-West Development Commission and setting up of Ruga farm settlements.
He said the farm settlements were urgently needed.
The Elders Forum also made a case for numerous infrastructure projects for the state, as well as for keener federal government’s scrutiny of benefits of social investment schemes.
President Buhari promised to look at the requests.
The President added that his constituency is the whole country, and he is determined to be fair to all, including those that voted him into office and those that did not.