Hon. Babba Kaita supports ‘ban on car importation via land borders policy’, give reasons (READ)
Hon. Ahmad Usman Babba Kaita represents Kankia/ Ingawa/Kusada Federal Constituency of Katsina State and is chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Housing. In this interview with PHILIP NYAM, he drums support for the Federal Government’s ban on importation of vehicles through land borders, President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade and also bares his mind on other issues.
The House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the Federal Government to suspend the ban on importation of vehicles through land borders from January 1, 2017. But you were opposed to this decision. What informed your position?
In his reply, Hon. Ahmad said: “The crux of the matter is that the recent announcement that cars will no longer be brought into the country through land borders beginning from January 1, next year. The House took the decision asking the Federal Government to suspend the policy and I say this is unfortunate and I will never support my colleagues on an issue as this especially in this time of recession. If we do not own up to our past mistakes, we would not be helping the country. We are having socio-economic issues especially high rate of unemployment and insecurity; poor standard of living.
Yet, we are dependent on importation of all kind of goods into Nigeria. It makes no economic sense for a Nigerian to go to Europe and import a car and send it through Cotonou, where he pays the tax, when we have all the facilities that our neighbors have.
This government is laying out policies that would address the socio-economic problems of this nation. Today, we are opposing the ban on importation of cars through land borders but we have forgotten what happened during the oil subsidy regime. We were shouting that if subsidy was removed, Nigerians will die; but what happened after it has been removed? I think we are better off because the era of fuel scarcity is gone and government is no longer spending money on subsidy. So, more policies of this nature will be unveiled because this government is blunt and sincere.
If the previous governments were able to address these issues frontally, we would not have been in this mess today. We have inland container terminals all over the country; a Nigerians can go to a German firm and put a destination to Kaduna or Kano where we have these terminals. His container arrives in Lagos and immediately cleared to Kano or Kaduna by following the same processes. One, it eliminates the bottlenecks.
But if you are going to Cotonou to buy a car, the minimum days required for the car to arrive here are five or six days. And this is risky because the cars are not covered by any insurance.
We that are importing it from Europe end up paying taxes in Cotonou and sometimes double tax, but we are not paying in Nigeria. So, it is only natural for us to develop our ports and generate more employment; look inwards and spur economic growth in the system. But as long as we keep going round the same issues due to political reasons, we will not solve the problem. We cannot circumvent economic issues for political reasons and expect good results.
Any country that does that will certainly lick its wounds tomorrow. The history of countries is there for us to learn from. For example, Germany, which is the economic hub of Europe, is doing the same thing. It has good relations with its neighbours but when it comes to economic issues her interest comes first. So, in this era of economic recession, we must look inwards and take enduring decisions no matter how tough they may seem. That was why I kicked against the motion.