Deputy Managing Director of Afrinvest West Africa, Victor Ndukauba, has advised the Nigerian Government and Nigeria Customs Service to address the fundamental issue of fuel price differential.
Ndukauba gave this advice while speaking with SaharaReporters on Friday in reaction to the recent announcement made by the Director-General of NCS, Hameed Ali, ordering the stoppage of supply of petroleum products to communities within 20kilometers to the nation’s international borders.
Ndukauba described the move by the customs DG as “a very strange way to fight the problem.”
He said, “Government should address the fundamental issue which is pricing differential.
“There is a huge price difference in the rate at which fuel is sold in Nigeria and the countries we share borders with which makes them always come into Nigeria to get fuel and smuggle it into their country.
“In Ghana, fuel is sold at N353, in Cameroon it is sold at N388, and in Benin republic N330.
“So getting the fuel in Nigeria is cheaper and that is why they come here to smuggle fuel out.
“With the price difference between Nigeria and other countries, the money the smugglers will get is enough to settle the custom officials and still have a lot, if you stop him, he is happy to pay.”
Ndukauba further said that it is almost impossible to stop the smugglers from taking out fuel as customs cannot claim to have all the borders manned.
He added, “You cannot close all routes, when you close one route, another will be open.”
He advised government to take the decisions needed as it is normal for people to complain at the initial stage.
The government had in October come up with a strategy called Operation White to track every drop of Premium Motor Spirit sold in the country.
The team of 89 persons was drawn from various agencies of government.
One of the functions of the large panel, which includes the Department of State Services, is the curbing of smuggling.
The corporation also created an automated Downstream Operations and Financial Monitoring Centre to do pretty much the same thing with the 89 persons.
The NCS has now layered this by restricting the supply of petrol to Nigerian citizens as well.