President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the policies taken by his administration were deliberately made for the development of the country, noting that Nigerians now appreciate why he closed the nation’s borders.
He stated this on Tuesday at the inauguration of a new Customs Headquarters, built at the cost of N19.6 billion, in Abuja.
Buhari said that such policies became legacy programmes because they later brought about the delight of the people and the country.
He stated that the ban on the importation of foreign rice, for instance, was one such policy.
“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,” he said.
On corruption, the President said he had nothing to hide, adding that, “Those who are following Nigerian leaders to condemn them for misappropriation and misbehaviour will have a problem with me.”
On the relationship with neighbouring African countries, the President stressed the significance of maintaining a cordial relationship with them.
“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.’’
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the new customs headquarters was a symbol of the present government’s commitment to ensure an effective service delivery.
She said the board under her leadership, prioritised customs’ staff welfare.
She said the board ensured “regular promotion for customs personnel, training opportunities,” among others.
She thanked President Buhari for signing the Nigeria Customs Act 2022, saying it would go a long way in enabling the service to meet up with international best practices.
Ahmed thanked the Federal Executive Council and other stakeholders for their continued support, adding that it had enhanced the service’s mandate of trade facilitation and revenue generation.
Earlier, Comptroller of Customs, retired Col. Hammed Ali said he ensured the building was completed to create a conducive environment for personnel to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
“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.”
Ali said the building was technologically friendly with the necessary facilities to monitor activities at the different borders and commands across the country.
Ali said the building, which sits on approximately 25,000 square meters, was designed and constructed by indigenous firms.
He noted that, 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 reports that the Customs corporate headquarters referred to as “Customs House,” is located in the Maitama areas 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.