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Nigeria’s “Political Icon of the Year”, Peter Obi, asks Tinubu to stop negative, arbitrary, ever-increasing customs duties



Peter Obi

A former presidential candidate in Nigeria, also recognised as the “Political Icon of the Year 2023”, Mr. Peter Obi, has asked the president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to stop what he referred to as ‘negative, arbitrary, ever-increasing customs duties’.

Mr. Obi made the call on Wednesday on his X, formerly Twitter, handle, saying that the duties are “negatively impacting businesses and the cost of items”.

He stated: “I wish to urgently call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to end the inconsistency in duty charges as it is affecting the general business atmosphere in the country.

“The federal government should stop the arbitrary and ever-increasing customs duties as it is now negatively impacting businesses and the cost of items, and this portends a huge danger to the economy.

“A situation where at the point of initiating importation, Form M and other documents related to importation are based on a particular rate of exchange, for example, N1000 to $1, being the prevailing exchange rate at the time which the importer of goods was used to calculate the entire process, from the import initiation to receipt of goods in his warehouse.

“Then suddenly when the goods arrive in Nigeria, and duties are calculated at different rates, say N1400 to $1, it becomes a serious business challenge that results in business losses.

“Worse still, it directly fuels the inflationary spike which is the basis of increasing cost of goods and living. Such arbitrary charges will obviously lead to further closure of businesses, and attendant job losses.

“This is because at the time of the initiation of the business, calculations, including duties, have been made based on the prevailing exchange rate, and the prevailing market prices.

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“If this situation is not corrected, our importers may resort to using ports of nearby countries, a situation that will leave our ports under-productive, and further deepen our economy into a worse situation as a result of loss of revenue.

“The government should also show consistency in its policies as this will help with economic forecasting and business planning.

“Businesses are dying and manufacturers are shutting down because of the poor and inconsistent economic policies of the government.

“All efforts of the government should be directed at supporting businesses, especially those in the manufacturing sector, to keep their businesses afloat and keep the economy growing, as the small business sector remains the most critical engine of economic growth.

“We cannot afford to target high customs revenues at the expense of the survival of local businesses, employment and reasonable cost of living.”

Nigeria, it could be noted, is grappling with high inflation and cost of living as the country’s currency, the Naira, is fast losing value in the market.

Meanwhile, Peter Obi was recently named the Political Icon of the Year 2023 by The Sun Awards.

Reacting to the award, he said on X:

“I was honored to be named the Political Icon of the Year 2023 by The Sun Awards.

“While I’m usually hesitant to accept awards in the face of our nation’s challenges, this recognition is unique because it aims to celebrate those making significant contributions in various ways to get the Nigeria of our dreams.

“It also provides opportunities to applaud those who have made enormous sacrifices for our progress.

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“I dedicate this award to the impoverished Nigerians facing uncertainty about their next meal and extend my appreciation to fellow Nigerians, especially the youth, who believe in our mission and who have remained committed to our journey for a New Nigeria.

“Your dedication is not in vain.

“My political journey is about building a better society and despite the setbacks of the 2023 elections, I urge us to unite beyond tribe, religion, and party affiliations.

“Together, let’s break free from bad governance and create the New Nigeria we envision.”

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