NAGAFF Gives Perspective To Presidential Order On 24 Hours Port Operations

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Nagaff and NPA Mgt team
The National Association of Government Approved Frieght Forwarders (NAGAFF) has reveaveld its perspective on the Presidential Order which directed implentation of 24 hours port operations at the ports.
In a press statement sent to Platform Reporters on Firday and signed the association’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Stanley Ezenga, the group maintained that the Presidential Order which aims to ensure transparency and efficiency in the ports is a direct indictment on the heads of government agencies opersting in the ports.
The group said: While appreciating the leadership of the Managing Director of the Nigerian
Ports Authority (NPA), the Comptroller General of Customs and the AIG Maritime Services in reordering our conduct of business in our ports operations let it be on record that the Executive Order of the Federal Government of Nigeria recently signed by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is a direct indictment for the heads of Government Departmental Agencies associated with proper management and administration of ports activities/operations.
“The point herein canvassed is to state clearly that there is nothing new in the Executive Orders, for the reasons that there are extant laws and regulations guiding our ports operations as approved by the Government for which the Head of Ministries, departments and Agencies were expected to ensure compliance in accordance with the law, regulations and port orders.
However in the opinion of NAGAFF, if the Executive Order shall become the
tonic for agents of the Government to enforce regulations in our ports,
may God help us.  In the instance wherein the leadership of NAFDAC, NDLEA,
Port Health and others may not have visited the ports formally with a view
to seeing things themselves and to ascertain how effective their
representatives are performing at the ports, is most regrettable.  The
prevalence of fake, adulterated and fake products in our markets entering
through our ports should have attracted the NAFDAC leadership to the ports
with a view to conferring with critical stakeholders as to the best way to
stem the tide.
The modern day administration is predicated on the
principle of Public/Private Partnership (PPP) with a view to achieving
Government objective in its mandate for a greater Nigeria.  And for the
emphasis, it is regrettable that a Head of Government organization will
sit in the comfort of his/her office in Abuja and issue policies without
finding out and seeing things by him/herself at the ports is most
unfortunate and regrettable.
NAGAFF Logo
In the opinion of NAGAFF, the spirit and letters of Section 5 of the 1999
Nigerian Constitution, as amended, means, that the Executive Powers of Mr.
President has been delegated to the heads of Government Agencies to act on
behalf of Mr. President who is not expected to be everywhere.
Even at that, we are witnesses to the efforts of Mr. President, the Vice President
and the legislatures through their oversight functions are visiting most
locations of the economic activities to see things themselves.  Whereas
many of the appointed Government agents are sitting down in their various
offices dishing out orders without a follow-up as a form of evaluation of
the policies to see how compliant their officers are with the spirit and
letter of trade policies and implementation.
If proper evaluation and follow-up is done it is only then that where lapses in form of carrying
out these policies are found, solutions can be appropriately proffered.
In the opinion of NAGAFF, this kind of attitude is a clear sabotage to the
expected productivity under the mantra of “change” of the present
administration.  NAGAFF is of the opinion that Mr. President should be
circumspect/diligent in appointing people into responsible positions if we
must succeed in reordering our economy because of their strategic
importance in the implementation and enforcement of commercial trade laws,
regulations and port orders.
We are all aware that the situation on ground with regard to the access
roads to the ports of Lagos and Onne is terrible even as the gateway to
the nations economy, and yet somebody as the head of Government is
directly in-charge.  It is easier for all to call Mr. President names
whereas we are the problem of the country because Mr. President cannot be
everywhere.
Accordingly we urge Mr. President to urgently re-appraise the
performance index of Heads of Government Agencies whose duty is detailed
at the gateways of the Nations economy.  We shall continue to be
appreciative of the leadership of NPA, NCS, NIMASA and NSC in their
efforts to see that business is made easy in our ports environment and
operations.
On the part of the Government, NAGAFF shall continue to encourage
Government to ensure that its agencies are duly funded to give them the
necessary impetus to discharge their responsibilities.  This has become
necessary and urgent because people are really complaining over the state
of the port environment with regard to access roads, capacity building and
obedience to rule of law.
As we posited above, the content of the Executive Order is not new, but rather it may be to reiterate the
intendment of Government activities.  May we now take a look at the
Executive Orders to see if there is anything new to it other than a mere
laxity on the part of some of the leaders in the Government Agencies and
Parasatals.  You can only deduce that most of the agents of the Government
may not be working patriotically or being proactive to their statutory
duties:-
EXECUTIVE ORDERS – PORTS OPERATIONS
1.    There shall be no touting whatsoever by unofficial persons at any port
in Nigeria.  On duty staff shall be properly identified by uniform and
official cards.  Off duty staff shall stay away from the ports except with
the express approval of the agency head.  The FAAN Aviation Security
(AVSEC) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) security to enforce this Order.
2.    All non-official staff shall be removed from the secured areas of
airports.  No official of FAAN, Immigration, security agency or Ministry
of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) or any other agency is to meet any
non-designated dignitary at any secure areas of the airport, the official
approved list of dignitaries that have been preapproved to be received by
protocol officers shall be made available to AVSEC and other relevant
agencies ahead of their arrival at the airport.
3.    Any official caught soliciting or receiving bribes from passengers or
other port users shall be subject to immediate removal from post and
disciplinary as well as criminal proceedings in line with extant laws and
regulations.
4.    All relevant MDAs at the airports shall within 30 days of the issuance
of this order merge their respective departure and arrival interfaces into
a single customer interface, without prejudice to necessary backend
procedures.
5.    All agencies currently physically present in Nigerian Ports shall
within 60 days harmonise their operations into one single interface
station domiciled in one location in the port and implemented by a single
joint task force at all times, without prejudice to necessary backend
procedures.
6.    The new single interface station at each port shall capture, track and
record information on all goods arriving and departing from Nigeria and
remit captured information to the head of the MDA and the head of the
National Bureau of Statistics on a weekly basis.
7.    Each port in Nigeria shall assign an existing export terminal to be
dedicated to the exportation of agriculture produce within 30 days of the
issuance of this order.
8.    The Apapa port shall resume 24-hour operations within 30 days of the
issuance of this order.
And so from the foregoing issues in relation to touting, trespass,
soliciting and receiving bribes, coordinated operations, capture, track
and record informations on all goods arriving and departing Nigeria,
dedication of existing terminal for exports of agricultural produce and
enhancement of 24-hours port operations in Apapa do not really require
Executive Orders if the agents of Government are proactive to their duty.
In the opinion of NAGAFF, in the spirit and letters of mantra of “change”
this is the time for all parties to adhere to rule of law, hard work and
compliant to rules of engagement.  It is expected that Government
organizations should engage the stakeholders in a massive education and
enlightenment of Government intentions and objectives of making our ports
friendly, competitive and productive.
The Nigerian importers, exporters and freight forwarders should strive to be compliant to international
trade regulations and guidelines to enable trade facilitation in our ports
succeed.
One area we believe the Government should have a second look at is the
concept of the giver and taker of a bribe being culpable.  Good as this
may seem we are not unmindful of the fact that this is a universally
accepted law, we still hold strongly to the opinion that a Government
servant who swore to an oath of allegiance and loyalty to the Government
should not be seen to turn around and connive with the trading public to
short change the same Government by taking bribes.
We must however distinguish between bribery perse and extortion on the other hand.
Members of the trading public are mainly business people whose main
objective is to maximize profit.  When a public servant initiates an
action either overtly or by their body language that is meant to create an
avoidable barrier for the trader to timeously carry out his/her business
he is being told to part with some money to get his/her business through
the set process.
This is extortion that is done with impunity.  We must
begin to have a paradigm shift from these shenanigans that Government
agents usually engage in.  It is high time that we all put our hands on
deck to make our dear country Nigeria better again.
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