Ahead of the July implementation of the African Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has appealed to the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to step up its public enlightenment activities to educate entrepreneurs and border communities on the impending challenges which the policy will come along with.

The AFTA opens our borders to products of other African countries without import duty and will open the flood gates for intense competition with local products and services.

The Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali who received the Director General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari on a courtesy visit yesterday explained that Nigerians, particularly the border communities, need to be educated on the dangers of illicit products importation and use as well as the need to cooperate with Customs in its operations.

He said the technical nature of the NCS mandate requires daily education of Nigerians on issues of trade facilitation, import prohibitions, customs and excise charges, thereby necessitating collaboration with NOA in the area of advocacy, given the Agency’s nationwide spread. He therefore solicited NOA’s increased advocacy to relevant stakeholders ahead of AFTA implementation and directed all Customs Commands to participate fully and actively in NOA public sensitization programmes.

The NOA Director General, Dr. Abari stressed the need for government policies to be explained in local languages that citizens can understand to secure popular buy-in and enable the formation of informed perspectives. This approach, he noted, has been adopted by the NOA in its sensitization on border closure which, he said, has now yielded an overall positive disposition by the majority of Nigerians towards the policy.

Dr. Abari said the visit was to explore areas of collaboration for the benefit of Nigerians and the economy, including a Patronize Made in Nigerian Goods campaign that has been flagged by the NOA.

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