Adeniyi’s Food Security Shuttle at Kano’s Largest Grain Market, by Dahiru Lawal

Adeniyi’s Food Security Shuttle at Kano’s Largest Grain Market, by Dahiru Lawal


I was in Kano for a Media Workshop on Fact-checking when I was told that the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, was expected in the city the following day on an official assignment.

After making all necessary enquires, I attended his media interaction at the state Command of the Service, where Adeniyi highlighted efforts to tackle food security.

He said that food distribution exercise to vulnerable Nigerians would continue through a more organised, streamlined and transparent process. He added that the process would be devoid of political affiliations or other primordial sentiments.

The NCS had recently commenced the direct distribution of food items forfeited to the federal government. The distribution of food items, mostly bags of rice, to Nigerians was abruptly suspended following a stampede that claimed seven lives in Lagos.

The suspension according to the Service was to ensure the safety of Nigerians and to enable it properly articulate its next line of action, in order not to defeat the purpose of the initiative.

The food distribution initiative was in response to the current challenges of food security in Nigeria and the increasingly high cost of essential food items. It also targeted an improvement in the lives of indigents. The Service said that the exercise would be managed to ensure that the benefits reach the most vulnerable people.

Adeniyi said the process of selling the food items at affordable rates are in line with Customs’ regulations. For instance, the bag of rice is discounted for poor people and the proceeds from it are transferred to the federation account.

He said the Customs Service, as the key agency tasked with enforcement of government fiscal policies, will do everything within its operational guidelines to safeguard and sustain the nation’s economy while also tackling food insecurity.

While noting that a very essential element of national power is food security, the CGC said any country unable to feed itself cannot be said to be secure.

He also disclosed that the National Assembly had approved six large-scale projects for border communities in 2024. According to him, the projects which entail provision of schools and health facilities will boost border communities, foster a sense of belonging and encourage cooperation.

Adeniyi's Food Security Shuttle in Kano
Adeniyi’s Food Security Shuttle in Kano

While the NCS is poised to combat food insecurity and boost the nation’s economy, this significant move promises to reshape the landscape of food security and economic growth in Nigeria.

From the media briefing, I joined the CG’s convoy on a seemingly surprised visit to Dawanau International Grains Market, one of the largest of such hubs in West Africa.

I was amazed by the huge sacks of grains especially maize, beans, sorghum and rice there being loaded on hundreds of trucks on a queue in the market.

Adeniyi’s motorcade was received with pomp and pageantry by a sea of traders, market dealers and leaders. His visit was meant to bolster the nation’s food security and economic development by strengthening ties between the Service and grain merchants who are crucial players in the country’s import and export chains.

The move also came amidst rising food prices sweeping across the nation, caused by a confluence of factors including smuggling, hoarding and forex crisis.

Touted as the nucleus of West African grain market business, Dawanau, which deals with both cash and food crops, has been serving the grain needs of the nation and neighbouring countries for ages.

In their respective welcoming remarks, the Chairman Dawanau Market Development Association, Alhaji Muttaka Isah, and the Chairman Board of Trustees (BoT) Alhaji Abdullahi Mai Doya, pointed out that the market had been a source of pride to grain merchants and farmers in the sub region and across the continent, providing an opportunity for trade with maximum security and investments.

They said that the Dawanau Market had the potential to improve the nation’s export volume but economic sabotage and activities of non-Nigerians hampered the fulfillment of such potential. He called for the creation of a domestic export warehouse in Dawanau to improve foreign exchange earnings.

They pointed out that they don’t hoard food items but store grains for operational conveniences and protection from foreign bodies that can destroy them.

The market leaders also appealed to the NCS to formalise the import and export process and enforce the Nigeria Export Proceed (NXP) number to increase export proceeds. They also appealed to the Federal and state governments to embark on massive agricultural production by mobilising able-bodied Nigerians enmasse and providing fertilizers and machineries.
While commending the market for adding value to the economy, through employment generation and participation in import and export, Adeniyi highlighted efforts of federal government to ensure food security through market engagement, intelligence gathering, and a joint task force led by the NCS, established by the National Security Adviser’s office.

“Our mandate involves more than collecting revenue, but also safeguarding industries and sectors critical to our economic wellbeing, notably, managing borders to ensure that prohibited items do not find their ways in or out of the country.

“This mandate also includes protection of the agricultural sector from entry or exit of food items with the ultimate aim of avoiding unfair competition and ensuring national food sufficiency for Nigeria,” he said.

However, he declared that the Federal Government will henceforth enforce compliance with the Nigerian Export Prohibition Act. Passed in 1989, the Act according to him prohibits the export of certain goods from the country towards ensuring food security in Nigeria by preventing essential food items such as beans, cassava tubers, maize, rice, and yam tubers, from being exported, especially during times of scarcity.

While asking for support and understanding of the merchants during the enforcement, he emphasised that regulations for import is to encourage local capacity of what the nation can produce but there are some items that are on the prohibition list that cannot be exported because the nation must sustain its population first.

“In such a critical period of food insecurity, we have to restrict the movement of our grains. The Service is set to eliminate any act of sabotage that will impede economic growth and trigger hunger and starvation in the country by fully enforcing the Nigerian Export Prohibition Act,” he said.

According to him, President Bola Tinubu directed total compliance with the Act given the current food crisis in the country. He therefore called on Dawanau grains dealers to support the government by adhering to the directive prohibiting the export of food items, ensuring sufficient food supply for Nigerians.

“It is unwise for a reasonable and sincere country to embark on exportation of food items when her own citizens are in need of them,” he said

The Nigerian Customs Service is responsible for enforcing the Act. Violating the Act is a serious offence, punishable by life imprisonment and forfeiture of assets.

There have been calls for stricter enforcement in recent years due to food security concerns. Meanwhile, the NCS boss is taking the core mandate of the Service very seriously and he is using his office to help the administration cushion the effect of economic hardship.

Dahiru Lawal, author of 101 Fake News on EndSARS, writes from Wuye District, Abuja.