President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja pledged the federal government will look into illegal tax collections with a view to encouraging more private sector businesses to thrive in the country.

He made the promise while receiving the leadership of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers Association of Nigeria (AUFCDN) led by Alhaji Ali Tahir at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Femi Adesina, said his administration had genuine intentions to eliminate illegal taxes in the country despite the fact that ‘‘old habits die hard.’’

The President was responding to a request by the association on the need for the federal government to rein in on the unhealthy practice of illegal tax collections.

He said: “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.’’

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 pledged his administration would continue to do its best to assist the sector, noting 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 they also demonstrated their solidarity for his candidacy in the build-up to the 2015 elections.

General Secretary of the union, Alhaji Ahmed Alarama, declared they will work for re-election of Buhari because of the great strides his administration has taken to put the country on the path of sustainable growth.

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.’’

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