President Muhammadu Buhari has pointed out that the country has vast borders and only God could secure the nation from the activities of criminals.
He said that his decision to close Nigeria’s borders at some point was in the interest of the economy and that the citizens would appreciate it later.
The President spoke on Tuesday at the commissioning of the new corporate headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Abuja.
Buhari restated his earlier position that he would be far away from Abuja at the end of his administration and noted that he was speaking his mind.
He said, “Please note that from Lake Chad to Benin is more than 1,600Km. Only God can effectively guard that border. So you need a person who will have the energy and the competence to effectively supervise it.
“I deliberately closed the borders because knowing Nigerians, they order rice and give some Niger address and then they bring the rice here. We have our potential. Thank God Nigeria is so blessed with people. We have land, we have weather. How many nations are so lucky like Nigeria in the world? Very few nations are as lucky as we are. We thank God for that.
“Closing that border 1,600Km from Lake Chad to Benin and Nigerians insist they have to help their neighbour and other people; they should eat foreign rice. I said you eat what you grow or grow what you eat or you die. I think I am trying to make my point.
“Later Nigerians will appreciate it because it provides more jobs. People go back to agriculture. We have the land and they will produce what we eat. And for people who think that our neighbours are going to lose, let’s continue to be with our neighbours. Those who are producing excess rice let them eat their rice or go and sell it elsewhere.”
Buhari also said that Nigeriens would defend him if anyone moved against him when he is no longer in office.
He said, “That is why when I became the Head of State that is President, my first visit was to Niger, Chad and Cameroon because based on personal and national issues, the neighbourhood is very important. If you don’t secure the confidence and cooperation of your neighbours, you are in trouble. Your children and grandchildren will be in trouble.
“It is very good that I established a relationship with my neighbours. I said these few things about my personal belief because I have only six more days to go, and I try to plan to be as far away from Abuja as possible. Thank goodness, I come from an area which is far away from Abuja. I said if anybody forces me, I have a good relationship with my neighbours. Niger people will defend me.”
Buhari said that he appointed only ladies as Ministers of finance because of the cultural belief that people would feel too big to go to them for favours.
He expatiated that “I made sure I gave Ministers of Finance to ladies because of the cultural behaviours of Nigerians. Once ladies are in charge people feel too big to go to ladies. So, I am sure things will not be the same in the Ministry of Finance where people go and start lobbying for their contracts to be paid. They will feel too big to go to a lady. So, I make sure a lady is in charge. That gave me a lot of peace.”
Explaining how he lost two of his children to Sickle Cell, Buhari disclosed that he moved to Kaduna after his incarceration due to the health and education of his children.
He said, “We moved to Kaduna for the education and health of my family, these children had sickle cell anemia. I lost my first two children, a girl and Musa, my first son. I lost them. We did not know about it technically although we were vulnerable to it in Africa generally. So I had to move to Kaduna for the education and healthcare of my children.”
The Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) in his address disclosed that the contract for the building which was originally awarded at N2.8 billion in 2005 went through several variations.
He explained that the building was remodelled and expanded to comply with the regulations of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), which raised the contract sum to N9.6 billion in 2012 and later to N19.6 billion in 2022.
Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) expressed satisfaction that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was able to build a befitting headquarters which would host highly sophisticated and digitalized equipment for the Customs.