The Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (RIMIDAN) has donated 150 patrol vehicles valued at over N600m to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Tunji Owoeye, president of RIMIDAN, said the gesture was aimed at enhancing the government’s anti-smuggling crusade, adding that there was a need to protect the rice business in Nigeria and ensure that the sub-sector played a stronger role in contributing to the nation’s economy.
Speaking during the presentation ceremony at the Customs headquarters in Abuja, Owoeye, said investments in plants by members of RIMIDAN as at 2012 was estimated at about N200 billion, employing about 4.5 million people throughout the industry’s value chain.
Owoeye said of the 1.8 million metric tons of rice produced locally, the association accounted for about 78 percent, while importing to bridge the gap between local production and consumption. According to Owoeye, RIMIDAN is on the verge of consolidating relationships with international affiliates in the areas of technology transfer aimed at boosting local production of rice in view of the fact that agriculture accounts for about 30 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP.
He said, “The above statistics go to show that RIMIDAN is indeed a major stakeholder in the agricultural and by extension, economic sectors of this country hence our resolve to partner governments at various levels to realise the critical objective of food sufficiency and boosting local rice production.”
He disclosed that government lost over N32bn to rice smuggling in 2012 alone, adding that it is disheartening to note that these investments and policies of government were being threatened on a daily basis by the incessant smuggling activities of a small few.
“By their actions, these smugglers also threaten the means of livelihood of genuine investors in the rice business, denying the government of tax due them,” Owoeye noted.
Commissioning the vehicles, Abdullahi Dikko, comptroller-general of Customs, who was represented by ACG, headquarters, Musa Tahir, assured that the vehicles made up of 100 trucks and 50 cars , would be put to appropriate use.
While thanking the association for the rare gesture, Dikko called on other stakeholders to emulate them in partnering the NCS even as he urged RIMIDAN to further support the service by offering relevant information.