The Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (RIMIDAN) on Thursday in Abuja donated 150 patrol vehicles worth N600 million to the Nigeria Customs Service.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr Abdullahi Dikko, while inaugurating the vehicles, expressed appreciation for the gesture and called on other stakeholders to take a cue from RIMIDAN.
Dikko assured Nigerians that the vehicles would be properly utilised and urged RIMIDAN to expand their partnership to include offering useful information that would stop smuggling in the country.
“We make bold to say that Nigeria, will continue to prosper because of the patriotic zeal of organisations such as RIMIDAN.’’
Dikko prayed God to “strengthen our common resolve to reduce smuggling to the barest minimum’’.
Mr Tunji Owoeye, the President of RIMIDAN, said the association pride itself as the foremost partner to government in the rice value chain.
He said rice occupied an important place being one of the country’s staple foods.
Owoeye said local production accounts for only 1.8 million tonnes of the 5.5 million tonnes of rice consumed annually, adding that 50 per cent of the imported rice was smuggled into the country.
He said the government lost 200 million dollars as revenue in 2012 as a result of the activities of smugglers.
“It is in the light of this RIMIDAN is out to partner with the Nigeria Customs Service in providing 150 vehicles.
“We feel that the time to roll out the federal willpower against rice smugglers is now before they cause greater damage to the Federal Government’s economic plans and the livelihood of million other Nigerians.
“This is the reason why we are did what we did today and we will continue to do more until smuggling is totally eradicated,’’ Owoeye said.
He called on the government to strengthen its mechanisms for policing the country’s borders, especially the Seme border.
The Secretary General of RIMIDAN, Mr Shaibu Mohammed, in an interview with News Agency Nigeria (NAN), commended the government for its policies that promote local production.
He called on the government to involve associations such as RIMIDAN in decision the making process as they could make meaningful contributions.
Mohammed said the association was committed to helping the government achieve its goal of self-sufficiency in food production.