The Federal Government has hinted of its plan to shut the land border between the country and Benin Republic on account of intractable smuggling of goods, particularly foreign rice into Nigeria.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, dropped this hint on Monday in Abuja speaking with youths in a leadership clinic under the auspices of Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI).
Chief Ogbeh who was coy about Benin Republic, said the border’s closure had become imperative in order to encourage local production of rice and sustain the economy of the country.
The minister said that a neighbouring country was bent on destroying the economy of the country and discouraging local production of rice, hence the need to shut down the border.
“Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbor of ours is importing more rice than China is importing.
“They do not eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice, they use their ports to try and damage our economy.
“I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear the border has been shut, we are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy. “You will start seeing all sorts of negative things on the internet.
“Let me tell you why we need to shut the border, I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones, if you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials gets into the rice.
“There are three kinds of water in their natural state; there is fresh water from the river, salt water from the sea, blackish water.
“If you go to the Delta in many countries, in South East Asia where they grow the rice, if you plant rice in the same place like four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase and arsenic causes cancer and that is what they are dumping for us.
“Some people say they prefer Thai rice because they are very sophisticated, welcome to poison,’’ the minister said.