says bad habit difficult to drop
Foodstuff, Cattle Dealers decry security extortion in South East, South-South
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, Friday frowned at the allegation of extortion and illegal tax collections by security and government agents especially in the South East and South-South geo-political zones of the country, saying that bad habit was not easy to drop.
President Muhammadu Buhari display a sign for 4+4 to join Legislators who supported his re-election bid as he addressed a joint session of the National Assembly for the the presentation of the 2019 Appropriation Bill at the National Assembly, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 19/12/2018
The President was reacting to the appeal by the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers Association of Nigeria, AUFCDA, who had at a courtesy visit to him, lamented that the army, police and other security agencies always mount toll gate within the South East and South-South to extort them heavily when they are carrying the goods from the north to the two zones.
Receiving the group led by Alhaji Ali Tahir, the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari pledged that the Federal Government will look into the issue of illegal tax collections with a view to encouraging more private sector businesses to thrive in the country.
He told them that his administration had genuine intentions to eliminate illegal taxes in the country, despite the fact that ‘‘old habits die hard.’’
According to him, ‘‘I am appalled to learn that these illegal tax collections still persist. Bad habits are not easily dropped.
‘‘But let me assure you that relevant security agencies will be reminded of their duties in preventing these bad practices and safeguarding people like you who go about their legitimate businesses.
‘‘I will take up all your appeals and complaints in due course and together with State Governments, we will attend to your proposals.’’
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Describing the association as very important and strategic to the nation’s economy, the President said, ‘‘the merchandise and products you trade in are basic to any economy. The real wealth of this country lies in agriculture and livestock rearing.’’
He, therefore, pledged that his administration would continue to do its best to assist the sector, noting that some of the more advanced countries like Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark built their economies primarily on agriculture and livestock trade.
On the 2019 elections, President Buhari welcomed the associations’ support for his administration, recalling that they also demonstrated their solidarity for his candidacy in the build-up to the 2015 elections.
In his remarks, the General Secretary of the Union, Alhaji Ahmed Alarama, declared that they will work for the re-election of President Buhari because of the great strides his administration has taken to put the country on the path of sustainable growth.
To play the campaign role effectively, Alarama appealed to the President to ensure that the organisation is represented on the national campaign teams for the Buhari/Osinbajo re-election movement.
On the issue of illegal tax collections, Alarama said: ‘‘Roadblocks are mounted by unknown persons on several highways including those in Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Imo and Bayelsa States and these continue to constitute a hindrance to our businesses.’’
Commending the Buhari Administration for the progress of work on the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, the group urged the Federal Government to establish a food and livestock market with close proximity to road and rail around Lagos-Ogun State expressway.
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