Ebonyi governor suggests strategy to checkmate rice smuggling

Ene Okwanihe, Abakaliki

David Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State

Rice smuggling is an issue the government has been battling to end, as it has adverse effects on the economic development of the country.

The Ebonyi state governor, Mr. Dave Umahi in an interview with journalists in Abakaliki the state capital, suggested ways the government can end rice smuggling through the country’s land borders.

Mr. Umahi said government could deploy security gadgets like CCTV cameras to checkmate the activities of smugglers.

“ What is the problem of sitting in one place and you have this CCTV in some of the border locations and you are able to see, you can even install CCTV that people will hardly know it is there , it can be a wireless one, you put it in a tree and people are watching the screens”

He said he has applied the use of CCTV camera in his state to check activities of hoodlums by installing them at flash points in the state which he monitors directly from his office.

“If you look over there you’ll find out I’m here and I am seeing everything that is happening in our university, I’m seeing a section of the road, where we had problem with people excavating our streets cable.”

He said if government shows enough interest in ending rice smuggling in the country it will end it.

Governor Umahi said the Custom can do there bit by finding out how most of the rice in the market got there by investigating the duties paid on the imported rice.

“Custom can also go into markets, even though people are crying, they can go into the market and say “let me see the duties you have paid” you know we have the right to do that”

The Governor added that as a member of the Presidential task force on food initiative, he called for a survey of the local mills to verify if there was a time where there was shortage in rice supplies in the country.

“The issue came up and we are being lobbied to allow the importation of certain percentage and we said no and they said there is no rice in the state, I said “no” let the security people go through the rice location where they are milling, let us find out if there is any particular day that we have more customers than supplies and nobody is being able to prove that, which means what we produce is able to sustain the nation.”

Mr. Umahi further stated that since he banned imported rice in his state, farmers and millers are happier as the make more money and they have more confidence in the government.

“Since there is none of this chaff they bring in as imported rice, then our people are encouraged and of course through the program of the federal government, the farmers get more money, they have confidence in the system they produce the rice, the rice are brought and so they are more engaged and this is more important for us.”

Governor Umahi further reiterated his support for the call to completely put an end to rice importation in the country.