The Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service , NCS, Hammed Ali (Rtd) has been advised to intentionally collaborate with experienced private customs agents and freight forwarders as well as exporters and importers to modernize Customs activities in the country in line with international best practice and increase revenue generation.
Maritime expert, Dr. Farinto Collins Kayode who gave the advice at a news conference in Lagos noted that the operations of the Service at the moment do not promote trade facilitation and as a result ,revenue generation has been low, which is unacceptable now that more money needed to keep the economy running.
Dr. Kayode, the CEO Wealthy Honey Investment, pointed out that the regime of former Controller General of Customs (CGC) Late Abdullahi Dikko (OFR) was able to achieve tremendous success because of the foresight of leadership to appoint competent customs agents, freight forwarders and other essential customs practitioners who worked as a team to expedite cargo movement and clearance, and ultimately ensured increased revenue generation.
He called on retired General Ali to adopt some of the policies of Late CGC, Dikko and other innovations including intermodal transportation system and digital cargo clearance for efficiency and effectiveness.
In his words, ” Nigeria has been privileged to have professionalism in Customs particularly during the era of late Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi;the introduction of modernization into Nigeria Customs with six – point Agenda which was followed religiously made revenue generation in Nigeria to jump to about over Seven Hundred Billion naira then, meanwhile the exchange rate was less than three hundred naira to a dollar.
Late Abdullahi Dikko Inde (OFR) engaged all relevant stakeholders particularly licensed customs Agents/ freight forwarders and it was like a magic wand.
”This was because the level of compliance began to increase then as he preached against duty evasion, sanctioned Officers and defaulting Agents whenever it came to lime lights. “Above all, one of the instruments that has formed the main document for cargo clearance was his introduction of the Pre – Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) which became stabilized despite the teething problems has and since been improved upon before he left the service”.
Dr. Kayode exppressed dismay that the successes achieved under Late Dikko have been allowed to erode, under the present dispensation, as evidenced by the poor rating of the nation’s Customs by the World Bank.
According to him, “One expectation by Nigeria’s Customs is to have improved on professional way of revenue generation and trade facilitation. But I want to say emphatically that the Service remains static and even retrogressing from the achievement by the previous management team”.
“The World Bank continuously rolled out data on how each country stands and since the inception of Col Hammed Ali (Rtd), Nigeria rating has continuously been bad”.
Farinto urged the Controller General to work towards improving upon the criteria set by the World Bank for rating the functionality of customs which include fficiency of the clearance process, even as decried that smaller nations within the West African Subregion are doing better than Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s should expect that our rating as a country will not be favorable again this year because as at 2018, Nigeria was rated 2.8 which is very low, where other countries like Benin, Ivory Coasts have better ratings than Nigeria.
It is rather unfortunate that seventy percent (70%) of the blames goes to the modus operandi of Nigeria customs service, deliberately flouting many international conventions which has been domesticated, which is done for pecuniary gains and extortion”, he said.
He also called for the possibility of injecting more fresh bloods into the key arms of Customs operations to entrench modernization, increase supervision and generally enhance productivity.
Farinto also hammered on the need for the Ministry of Finance to make it a duty to monitor activities of the Nigeria Customs Service to ensure compliance to it’s mandate as well as offer assistance towards increased revenue generation.