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Border closure exposed huge revenue loss through illegal exports, says senator

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Senator Adelere Oriolowo (Osun West) has said that the closure of the country’s land borders exposed the huge revenue lost through illegal export to West African countries.He, therefore, moved for the revamping of commodity boards for the country to benefit from all products exported.

Speaking with The Guardian on the commodity and grain board bill he moved on the floor of the Senate, he said that some neighbouring countries would import goods and export them to Nigeria and pay nothing because of the trade agreement in the region.

“This is happening, especially with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries. It is difficult to estimate the revenue lost, but I know that it is enormous,” he added.

On why he introduced the bill, he explained, “My idea of introducing this bill on commodity and grains board stemmed out of the experience I gathered in Ghana during a recent visit of the president of Dubai and the past experience of lack of proper record for the oil Nigeria is drilling.

“The world is now a global village and there is no limit to digitalisation. The commodity board could be digitalised because the advantages of the board are numerous.“We don’t have proper record of the export products, including solid minerals, petroleum and agricultural products. So we don’t know how much revenue we are expecting from such products. You also discover that the quality in most cases do not meet international standards.”

According to him, there is need for government intervention and control of the movement of commodities, if only to derive those benefits, including tax and levies, that are supposed to accrue to the government.On the issue of corruption that bedevilled commodity boards in the 1940s which led to their scrapping by government, he said: “Beheading is not a therapy for headache. You have to treat the headache. If we have to remove all systems that are corrupt in Nigeria, we are going to have no system, as the nation would be closed down.

“When they are setting up the board, all measures would be put in place to ensure that it is not corrupted. I don’t believe that what happened in 1986, particularly, was as a result of military intervention; it was not properly handled. It was not the commodity board that was faulty, but the operators.“So when a system is pertinent to the development of the country, what you need do is to put people that are knowledgeable, that have the wisdom with integrity, and it would work.”

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