By Chinonye Anyatonwu.
A Maritime guru, practitioner and former Murtala Mohammed chapter chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Licensed Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), has called for the privatization of the Nigeria customs service as that is seen as the only solution to bring down the cost of commodities as low as 50 percent.
In a chat with the Emperor Global News Online recently in his office at Ogba, Lagos, Dr. Olusegun Musa, the CEO of Widescope International Logistics Limited, stated that custom is doing nothing interns of collecting revenue hence you can automate the system, it can be collected adequately by any trained person. All you hear from customs is Seizures, but the truth is that 30 percents of some seizures are not audited.
Since nobody monitors seizures, customs occasionally replaces most of the viable products with expired products, customs cannot seize a products and still declare the number of items seized, as such unchecked attitude has brought lots of corruption in Nigerian customs.
Dr. Musa maintained by saying that “The best way to grow the Nigerian economy is to privatise the Nigeria Customs Service, in the old days of the NPA, if they had been told that a part of the NPA would be privatised, they will tell you to go and sit down, but today that has become a reality and we are all aware if the better level of efficiency. Freight Forwarders are Customs men in mufti, I remember that I was one of those who helped train the Customs personnel, we can perform better than the Customs. There is nothing special that the Customs are doing, so the Customs should be privatised.
He also bares his mind on the issue of Nigeria’s preparedness for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) the trade entity that followed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
The erudite scholar and big time business man said that Nigerian Government had signed the Memorandum of Understanding on AFCFTA under duress, because the action or inaction of the government betrays a lack of seriousness for the Agreement.
“The government seems only to see threat where there are opportunities. A few years ago, we had the ECOWAS Liberalization Scheme and because we did not handle it properly, the Scheme died a natural death.
Nigeria is a huge economy that if we do not partake in the Agreement, it will not work, but that still remains a badly managed entity. “I was privileged to have served Nigeria under ELTS as president of the Nigeria-Cote D’Ivoire corridor project and the essence of the project was to take care of all the trade issues along the corridor and we were refered to as the non-governmental group and it was funded by European Union and it was applauded by all and sundry. We realised at the time and contrary to opinions then, that about 80% of the cargoes then were legitimate business.
Still speaking on AFCFTA, “I should not be compelled to buy a made in Nigerian product if the quality is low. The Standards Organisation of Nigeria will tell you to come and get the MANCAP for our manufactured goods or SONCAP for imported goods, but when you ask them what is the standard, they cannot tell you. What then is the standard on which the goods are judged, they are only interested in revenue generation”. If we want to get serious about AFCFTA, you must have energy or power to carry on.
On the issue of transportation, Dr.Musa said “there should be proper rail transportation in and out of the ports, you can only pilot the Inland Container Terminals with rail to make costs cheaper. We cannot use haulage for long distance transportation of materials, it is meant for local distribution of goods and cargoes”.
He however pointed on Security as another factor that may affect AFCFTA, nobody is in the farm, most farmers have ran out of their farms because of insecurity, we import our foods from
Chad and Niger”.
According to Musa, frustration for survival also pushed many people to fall back on what they are trained for, if one is trained to carry gun, when they retire and have nothing doing, they fall back at carrying gun as their means of livelihood.
We need government to have the political will, the people advising the government are not giving them the right information, and the right information is what they need to have and the right infrastructures are what the government need to have to put in place in order to make it all work”.
” We need people that have the interest of the industry to lead the industry, there is no local government without potentials, they can work effectively only when they develop their potentials,” Dr. Musa concluded.
Leave a Reply