Steel Products: National Security Exposed By Saboteurs

Steel products: National security exposed by saboteurs

…Bring back pre-shipment inspection

…Smuggled sub-standard materials everywhere

Investigation into the nation’s port management and pre-shipment management has revealed that the nation’s security has been exposed to abuse. Affected mostly is the nation’s steel industry. Smugglers had enjoyed coverage and brought all manners of goods into the nation.

Most of the nation’s stakeholders have either not been bothered but truth is, all manners of arms and ammunitions can be imported into the nation jeopardising the 2019 General Election. This may also have been why there is a high proliferation of various arms and ammunitions into the nation. had followed the investigation to Lagos, Onne, Port Harcourt and Calabar ports. There is a deep hole in national security. There is a big alarm required to close revenue loss, threat on economic activities as well as, the health of Nigerians.

Economic violence on the nation: It is true but sad and worrisome that smuggled substandard steel products are freely traded in all markets in Nigeria. A silent question is, where are agencies like the Nigeria Custom Service, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractices and Department of State Service (DSS) amongst others. Do they do intelligence gathering and send reports to government?

Our investigations showed clearly that given the grave dangers of the smuggling of steel products, the Federal Government of Nigeria should act fast and now. The nation must immediately enforce all investors protective policies that will put a stop to the activities of these economic saboteurs.

Our checks revealed that the Federal Government loses over N52billion revenue yearly from the cancellation of pre-shipment inspection. On a weekly basis, an excess of N1billion is lost to the saboteurs considering volume of what is imported into the country for which fees were to be paid despite the low quality of what is imported.

Our investigation revealed that the revenue loss is perpetuated because of the neglect of pre-inspection of any container coming into the country which was hither-to the practice in Nigeria before the coming of the Buhari administration.

Economic sabotage: According to a source who is in the know who for fear of being attacked by the smuggling cabal, he told that “it is no gainsaying that the smuggled substandard steel products compete not neck to neck but better compared with the locally produced qualitative steel products in Nigeria.

He revealed that there is far cheaper than ours. When you add what we put into production, we are already victimised.

GISMA said as a body under the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has been battling for some time with what he called this dismal economic sabotage which may lead to the collapse of up to 60 per cent of manufacturers in the production of galvanised Iron and Steel Manufacturing Companies in Nigeria.

It added that it may also result to a mass lay-off of more than 50,000 direct employees and crystallisation of numerous associated systemic risks in the Nigerian Steel Industry in a country where unemployment is already on the high side.

It pleaded with the presidency to immediately rescue the Nigerian steel industry from imminent collapse as a result of the activities of the cabal involved in smuggling in steel product.

Findings of investigation: There is a cartel of economic saboteurs who import huge volume of containers every week valued at about $5m which were never captured under the correct HS code 7210.30.00.00 – 7210.50.00.00 of Nigerian Customs Service portal, making the Federal Government of Nigeria to lose an estimated revenue of about  N1billion on weekly basis on these smuggled items due to the neglect of pre-inspection of any container coming into the country which was hither-to the practice in Nigeria.

It has been proven and verified by different sources that major routes of smuggling steel products and especially galvanised and coloured corrugated roofing sheet into Nigeria are Port Harcourt, Onne and Calabar ports and all efforts to stop these economic sabotage has proved abortive over the years.

Question is, is the Federal Government and all its agencies not aware of this massive economic sabotage? No one will want to provide answer to this question.

GISMA and the fear of attack: “The Galvanised Iron and Steel Manufacturing Companies have demonstrated absolute confidence in the Nigerian economy as evidenced by the establishment of verifiable mega steel mills in Nigeria. These are apart from the ones in Oshogbo (Osun State), Aladja (Delta State) and Ajaokuta (Kogi State).

A major player in the industry who will not want to be quoted ‘for security reasons’ said: “we have also demonstrated our trust in the Federal Government’s policy of Economic Growth and Recovery Plan via investments in various projects to enable import substitution for products.”

He lamented that despite all the efforts of GISMA to ensure full achievement of the Federal Government’s strategic objectives of Economic Growth and Recovery Plan with key focus on global competitive economy, employment generation, youth empowerment and improved human capital development, the market is continually recording free flow of smuggled substandard steel products and other allied products,” thus confirming our findings.

It said that it was apt to note that the thickness and coating quality of all the smuggled roofing sheets are very much below the standard specified by Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for the Nigerian manufacturers, thereby short changing the Nigerian users as the imported products are less durable and of less quality.

How the economic sabotage is hidden: GISMA confirmed the findings when the official said “they conducted a comprehensive study into the menace of smuggling and its economic deficit to our country Nigeria. It stated that it found out that importers open the Form M with wrong classification HS CODE and product description.”

It added that mostly, the description is stated as used machinery and shoe parts which, it said, attracts zero duty and valid for foreign exchange.

According to it, the smugglers by this act successfully sabotage the economy with non-payment of the prescribed 45% import duty on items of steel products being smuggled into Nigeria.

It also said it was discovered that imported steel products are shipped in containers and put on fast track and non-inspection category and escorted to their various warehouses around the country.

It explained that upon the arrival of vessels in Port Harcourt, Onne and Calabar ports, sources claimed that no container examination is carried out from any of our reputable regulatory agencies.

It said, “the activities of smugglers have largely dented the noble objectives of the Federal Government Economic Growth and Recovery Plan for the steel sector of the Nigerian economy.

“Invariably, smuggling will continually be a determining factor of Nigeria’s economic independence because neither fresh local nor foreign investors will be pleased to invest in an economy where despite increasing growth in population and market demand, steel mills are shutting down while those still operating are doing so at less than 30% capacity.

Textile industry as victims of smuggling: “It is pertinent to remind all and sundry that these same factors mentioned above have led to the collapse of the once vibrant textile industry in Nigeria.”

Cancellation of Pre-shipment Inspection at all ports of shipment created a loop-hole for the smugglers. They only used that loophole to activate the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of our system.

According to it, this is because no authorised agency is checking declaration document (Form M) of goods coming into Nigeria during containers’ stuffing.

If anything must be done, the National Assembly has to as part of its primary responsibilities and oversight function, demand and insist on what has become an Executive lacunae to order that pre-shipment inspection should be re-introduced in all ports of entry.

This action will not only save the nation about N52billion but will enhance local production, sustain over 50,000 direct jobs, retain over 100,000 indirect employment opportunities and thus, guarantee national security and economic independence.




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