Why I closed borders in Nigeria – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the policies taken by his administration were not only deliberate but targeted at the country’s development.

Specifically, he said the ban on the importation of foreign rice, for instance, was one of such policies.

Buhari said such policies turned out to be legacy programmes because they later became the delight of the people and the country.

 “I deliberately closed the borders. I said it is either you eat what you grow or you grow what you eat and later Nigerians appreciated it,” the president said Tuesday at the inauguration of a new headquarters for the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS)  built at the cost of N19.6 billion in Abuja.

On corruption, the president said his hands were clean, stressing  that, “those who are following Nigerian leaders to condemn them for misappropriation and misbehaviour will have a problem with me.”

Speaking on Nigeria’s relationship with the neighbouring African countries, Buhari said there was a need to maintain a cordial relationship with them.

He said: “When I became the President, my first visit was to Niger, Chad and Cameroon because if you do not secure their confidence, you will be in trouble.’’

In her remarks,  Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed described the new customs headquarters as a symbol of the present government’s commitment to effective service delivery.

She said the board under her leadership, prioritised customs’ staff welfare and  ensured “regular promotion for customs personnel, training opportunities,” among others.

The minister lauded Buhari  for signing the Nigeria Customs Act 2022, pointing out that  it would go a long way in enabling the service to meet up with international best practices.

She also commended  the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and other stakeholders for their continued support, which, according to her,  enhanced the service’s mandate of trade facilitation and revenue generation.

Earlier, NCS Comptroller General Hammed Ali said he ensured  completion of the building  to create a conducive environment for personnel to carry out their responsibilities effectively.

He recalled: “When I assumed office in 2015, I was resolute on implementing the three “Rs”; Reform, Restructure and Raise the Revenue profile of the Service.

“In view of this, I was not in doubt that a conducive environment is important and that is why I ensured the completion of the new corporate headquarters.”

The NCS boss said the building, sitting on 25,000 square meters,  was technologically friendly with necessary facilities to monitor activities at the different borders and commands across the country.

Ali said the building was designed and constructed by indigenous firms.

He said although there were challenges of variations in the course of the project, the service was proud to erect one of the most cost-effective edifices in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Customs corporate headquarters referred to as “Customs House”, is located in the Maitama area in Abuja.!

The building has a 12-floor tower with five floors on both wings of the tower and “bridges” linking the two wings.

The project was conceived in 2002 to provide a comfortable and conducive working environment for staff and authorised visitors to the building.