Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Monday said that six million new jobs have been created in Nigeria’s rice production sector since the partial land border closure commenced on August 20, 2019.
Mohammed said this while addressing a press conference organised to outline the major achievements of the Buhari administration in 2019. While speaking on the partial border closure which he referred to as “Border drill”, the minister said: “Undoubtedly one of the boldest decisions ever taken by any administration in Nigeria is the decision to embark on a border drill as part of measures to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders. Many have called it border closure, but it is not.”
He said that apart from producing a lot of gains in the fight against terrorism, illegal migration and smuggling, the border exercise has impacted positively on the country’s economy, especially in the rice production sector. He said six million people, mostly youths, were now venturing into rice production owing to the opportunities created as a result of the “border drill”
His words: “Today, Nigeria is closer to attaining self sufficiency in rice production than at any time in the country’s history, thanks to the border drill that has drastically reduced rice smuggling into the country and catalyzed rice production by our farmers across the country. We recently visited some of Nigeria’s 34 integrated rice mills as well as rice clusters in Kano. The rice mills are either operating at full capacity or have doubled their production. Before the drill, there were 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, but now six million people, mostly youths, are venturing into rice production.
“Before the drill, farmers were cultivating rice twice a year, now that has increased to three times a year, and some rice farmers are now venturing beyond rice cultivation to milling, packaging and marketing. Overall, the integrated mills currently produce 150,000 bags of rice daily and about 35 million bags per annum
“The border drill has curbed the smuggling of rice and other prohibited items into the country, led to significant seizures with estimated monetary value of over 3,500,000 billion Naira, reduced local fuel consumption by 30% and reduced the importation of arms, munitions and drugs.”
On gains recorded from the border drill in other sectors, Mohammed said: “Because of the drill, terrorists and other criminals are finding it hard to procure arms and ammunition while criminal elements no longer make their way into the country through the land borders. This has resulted in reduced cases of insecurity, whether its kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery or other violent crimes.
“Smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria has been drastically curtailed, and has led to a 30% reduction in domestic fuel consumption.
“Before the drill, the Nigeria Customs Service was recording about N4.5 billion daily. Since the drill started, the figure has increased to between N5 billion and N8 billion daily.
“There has been a drastic reduction in illegal migration.
“The exercise has provided a unique platform for the various participating agencies to operate jointly, thereby strengthening inter-agency collaboration and reducing animosity. It is also necessary to place on record that this is the first exercise in recent times, that military, paramilitary as well as intelligence and security agencies have come together to conduct such an exercise which is akin to a National Security exercise.”