President Muhammadu Buhari has said he deliberately ordered closure of Nigeria’s borders in 2019 to prevent Nigerian rice smugglers and their Nigerien collaborators from making Nigeria a dumping ground for smuggled rice.

He said this on Tuesday at the commissioning of Nigeria Customs Service headquarters in Abuja.

“So, closing that border of 1,600km, more than that and Nigerians insist that they have to impress their neighbours and other people that they eat foreign rice. I said no rice. Rather, you eat what you grow and grow what you eat or you die,” he said.

President Buhari also disclosed that he deliberately appointed women to be ministers of finance in his eight years in office to ward off disturbances from people looking for award of contracts and payment of contract sums.

Buhari believes that most men would not find it easy to go to a woman as Minister of Finance to look for contracts or get payment for jobs done because of ego and pride.

“I deliberately appointed ladies so that it will give me a lot of peace. I made sure I gave the Ministry of Finance to a lady to exploit the cultural behaviour of all Nigerians: once ladies are in charge, people feel too big to go to ladies. So, I am sure peace will be allowed in the Ministry of Finance where people will go and lobby for their contracts to be paid and so on.

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“So, they feel too big to go to ladies. So, I put a lady in charge. That gave me a lot of peace,” he said.

The president, who would be leaving office in six days’ time, told the gathering in Abuja that he tried to support Nigeria’s neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon to secure his safety and defence after leaving office.

“I try to plan to be as far away from Abuja as possible and thank goodness that I came from an area which is far away from Abuja. I think before anybody first move; I established good relationship with my neighbours. Niger people will defend me,” the president stated.

The president also said he appointed Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) as Comptroller-General of Customs to effectively protect the borders and raise more revenues for the country.

“Please note that from Lake Chad to Benin is more than 1000km. Only God can effectively guard that border. So, you need a person who will have the energy and competence to effectively supervise it,” the he stated.