Inside Business Africa INSIDE BUSINESS AFRICA APRIL 2019 - Page 3

Selections I N S I D E B U S I N E S S A F R I C A Custom Officer showing smuggled Rice brother, let me tell you that gains we receive from selling foreign rice is more than the local rice because local rice is more costlier." Auwal Mukhtar a merchant in Singer Market Kano said: "There is more market for us in foreign rice because it's cheaper." Nwadike said. 'tell them to bring the cost of local rice down" he pleaded. Another rice merchant Mustafha in Utako Market Abuja noted that "I try as much as possible to buy foreign rice because my customers prefer them and they are cheap', he said. Asked whether the quantity of local rice in the market more than the foreign rice is, they said no! The same go for Terminus Market Jos, Mile 3 Market Port-Harcourt, Main Market, Onitsha. They were reluctant to disclose how they got large supplies of foreign rice. One of them said: "Bros (short for brother) you want to spoil our business? How can we tell you the source of our business?" The rice traders in separate interviews attributed the upsurge of rice smuggling to the ineffectiveness of customs service urging the government to take necessary steps to overhaul the Customs and its strategies to combat the menace. When contacted, the spokesperson of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr. Joseph Attah lamented the deadly activities of rice smugglers in Nigeria. Attah said: "How much efforts are really enough. All our warehouses and available places are filled up with seized smuggled rice. The smugglers are becoming so deadly as a number of death have beeng recorded from our confrontations with them. "In fact the Federal Government recently gave a directive that rice and other relief materials in the warehouses should be distributed to orphanages and Internally Displaced People Camps to address the plights of the victims as well as to free the warehouses. "We now urge the major stakeholders to join us in the campaign against the deadly activities of smugglers through advocacy and sensitizations that will lead to attitudinal changes in the part of the smugglers." Also speaking on the same vein, the 50 u t APRIL1 4 - 28, 2019 THE MAGAZINE 0F THE CORPORATE WORLD Central Bank Director of Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor said while agreeing with many Nigerians that local rice has more nutritional value than foreign rice however disagreed with our survey that the quantity of foreign rice in Nigerian market far outweigh the local arguing that the apex bank through its intervention has put smiles on the faces of rice farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain . "I don't know the parameters used in your survey in terms of quantity of rice both foreign and local. But I can assure you that Nigerians would not like to go back to the dark days of rice importation", the CBN spokesperson said. However, late last year, Economic Confidential recalls that the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) debunked the report by the United States Department of Agriculture World Markets and Trade that Nigeria imported three million metric tons of rice in 2018. The US report had said the import figure is 400,000 metric tonnes higher than the quantity of the product that was imported in 2017. The report also stated that Nigeria's local rice production dropped from 2016 to 2018 compared to the situation in 2015. Meanwhile, Nigeria's neighbour, Republic of Benin however recorded an increase in rice imports from Thailand, from 805,765mt in 2015 to 1, 647,387mt as at November 2017. Though government had claimed a reduction in the importation of the commodity, existing statistics should be a cause for concern as only Nigeria consumes parboiled rice while Benin prefers white rice, an indication that rice imported to Benin are being smuggled to Nigeria through the land borders. Economic Confidential wholly agree that while legally imported rice continue to decline, majority of rice in the Nigerian markets are imported smuggled rice for which the country loses huge revenue that should have accrued to it. Despite the ban, smuggling of rice has continued to thrive as huge quantities of the commodity flood the local market daily. Publisher/CEO, Kenneth Odusola-Stevenson THE MAGAZINE OF THE CORPORATE WORLD READY! January 8 - 15, 2017 www.insidebusinessafricang.com PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari recently told leaders of the Arewa Consultative Forum who paid him a congratulatory visit that he would work harder in his second term. “This is my last lap”, Buhari said, “I will try to work harder.” The subtext is an admission that he didn’t work hard enough in his first term. Most people would say he didn’t work hard at all! But a president who ballsed up his first term cannot blithely promise to work harder in his second because it’s “my last lap”. Why is Buhari’s “last lap” more important than his first? Four years is too significant in a nation’s life to be wasted! You might admonish that the election has come and gone; we should look forward, not back. I agree. But Buhari’s comment raises two questions about the future. The first is that, going forward, can he really work harder? The second is: Even if President Buhari can work harder in his second term, is that what he should do? Well, on the first question, my view is that Buhari, who relishes being called “Baba Go-slow”, cannot, in fact, work hard, let alone harder. And on the second, well, I believe Buhari mustn’t “try to work harder,” which, in any case, he can’t do, but work smarter! President Mohammadu Buhari GCFR presides over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting, Council Chambers State House Abuja. Wed. 13Mar2019 By his own admission, President Buhari is not a hard worker. In 2016, during a visit to General Olusegun Obasanjo on the 40th anniversary of the creation of Ogun State, Buhari thanked Obasanjo for tolerating him as Minister of Petroleum during his military regime (1976-79), “because God knows that I am not used to working as hard as he used to.” In 2015, Buhari said in South Africa that he wished he had been president at a younger age, adding: “Now, at 72, there is a limit to what I can do.” If Buhari couldn’t work hard as a 34-year- old minister and considered himself limited by age at 72, why should anyone believe he can work “harder” as a second-term president at 76 going on to 80? Those who know Buhari attest to his inability to work hard, his laid-back and hands-off work ethics, and his slackened approach to issues. One senior politician, said to be close to the president, told the Financial Times: “General Buhari doesn’t delegate, he abdicates,” which chimes with the view that he surrendered the running of the country to a shadowy cabal. Leaders must be readers, but a Buhari ally, Junaid Mohammed, once said that: “Buhari couldn’t read two pages of a book in a year.” Whether in jest or in earnest, Buhari himself said: “I am a very slow reader,” blaming being an ex-soldier! So, Buhari’s promise to work harder this time must be taken with a pinch of salt! But that brings me to the second point. Buhari doesn’t need to work harder; rather, he must work smarter. Of course, hard work has long, rightly, been venerated. Thomas Edison famously said that: “There is no substitute for hard work.” But in recent times, attention has shifted to working smarter. There are several books on “How to work smarter, not harder.” This shift is not intended to denigrate hard work, but to stress that working smarter, that is, intelligently, produces better results than just working harder! As president, Buhari doesn’t really need to work very hard, but he needs to work smarter by providing the right vision and leadership and by assembling a team of talented technocrats to deliver the vision. Unfortunately, President Buhari did none of these in his first term. He didn’t provide the right vision for this country; he didn’t show real leadership; and he formed a largely mediocre and incompetent cabinet. In a recent editorial, the Financial Times wrote that: “Buhari ran a lacklustre administration, with no obvious sense of direction, and no coherent strategy.” That’s not a commentary on his inability to work hard, but, rather, on his lack of vision and competence. It takes vision and competence to create a sense of direction and a coherent agenda, implemented by able technocrats. Buhari runs a statist government, but any government can ban any product or control anything. However, it requires more intellectual rigour and competence to develop policies that generate economic prosperity and increase general welfare. Buhari also rejects political restructuring; but it takes more than brute state force to engender stability and unity in a multi-ethnic nation. In his congratulatory message, General Ibrahim Babangida, former military ruler, advised President Buhari “to be creative in formulating policies that would improve the nation’s economy” and “to heed to the yearnings of reasonable Nigerians for restructuring.” Essentially, Babangida was urging Buhari to work smarter by embracing sensible policies, such as business-friendly reforms and restructuring. Surely, working smarter requires an attitude adjustment. Unfortunately, President Buhari has promised a more-of-the-same agenda. “We have laid the foundations and we are committed to seeing matters to the end,” he said. Thus, for Buhari, working harder means pursuing the same failed policies. That’s not smart. It would hurt Nigeria and make his vaunted “last lap” a wasted opportunity as his first. He must work smarter, not harder! SOURCE: VANGUARD 3 u t APRIL1 4 - 28, 2019