Do you think Nigeria Customs Service has what it takes to operate the e-auction platform?

Dr. Frank Ukor (Ex-president, AREFFN) 

Customs has all it takes to do e-auction; haven tried it before with some level of success. All the Service needs to do is to plug all loop holes in the earlier mistakes. But why should the Service not go back to the era of licensed auctioneers? I think it will be better for the Service to employ the services of auctioneers to carry out auction services. The Service will control the operations of the auctioneers to give it a level of transparency. 

Pius Ujubonu (ANLCA Headquarters) 

I see most of these policies as adventures; the real actors approach them as visitors not as hosts. In the process, mistakes occur which could be glossed and may be referred to as innocent mistakes, but the reality actually intended to either disfigure or truncate.

The question then becomes, are the managers ready? Has the pilot programme been carried out? What are the challenges thrown up? How was it dealt with? What channel of feedback was adopted? Was the risk engine assessed from within or from without. If the system is subjected to integrity test and confirmed okay, then we are good to go . 

Joe Sanni (National Publicity Secretary, ANLCA) 

There is nothing wrong with Customs running the platform, what I think happened is that when the e-auction started,  they were running it until they encountered some problems, and now I am sure that they are rejigging the process, forget about the allegations of hidden agenda or that some people are not disposed to it, e-auction is the right way to go in order to make the process open and accessible to everyone. Don't also forget that they had a problem with the National Association of Auctioneers who went to court, they are yet to resolve the problem, the customs e-auction platform was designed to make auction process to be transplant but unfortunately, they ran into some problems. 

Alloy Igwe (Chairman, ANLCA MMIA chapter)

I believe that customs can manage the e-auction platform, the Nigeria Customs Service has gone digital for more than 10 years now, from ASYCUDA to ASYCUDA ++ to the NICIS we are having now, they have gone totally digital and I don't have any doubt that they can manage the platform,  it is only that in Nigeria, even if we have good policies, implementation is always the problem, so why it came up and seems there were problems was because of implementation of the policy. What I think customs is doing now is that they are going back to the drawing board to see the flaws when they took-off and find a way to correct the flaws. I believe the e-auction is the best way for everybody to buy and pay to the government, unlike when it is done based on man-know-man, but if it is e-auction, nobody knows you, you just go online and see what you want to buy,  afterwards you pay to the bank and pick your cargo, this is practiced globally now and I wish Nigeria can cue into it properly. 

Frank Aliakor (Clearing Agent)

The Nigerian Custom Service does not have all it takes to handle e-auction platform, that is the reason we still have a lot of containers still lying at the port, in fact most of the products seized or abandoned by their owners as a result of lack of money to clear it or inability to provide the necessary documents have started to either decay, spoil or rot away. Let the old system be reviewed so as to decongest the area it is packed and generate more revenue to the government.

 

Rev Jonathan Nicol (President SALS)

To us, it is like the customs themselves are confused about the system; they are not used to it. So, we don’t really like talking about the thing, we think it is not right, if they want to do e-auction fine, if they don’t want, it is up to them.

 

Uche Nerus (Chairman, NECOM, NAGAFF)

You know it is associated with a lot of scams; some of the things we suggested as stakeholders were for customs to go with a lot of awareness so that people will know what they are into. But you know it is not good for them to just wake up and start doing something like that, it created room for a lot of things. A lot of issues were associated with it, it was a very good idea in the sense that it created room for anybody that wants to bid. But the sensitization is something they have not done well. But all the same, I think it is a good one.

 

Mr. Abiodun Frank (IFFA)

That platform is a very good system but you know we are not matured to that level in this country; it is going to take us some little time when honesty is expected. What we are trying to do with this auction of a thing goes to individuals instead of going for the masses because all these where seized from the masses. I also think the government should stop what they call auction, if anybody goes against the rules of the trade, they should ask them to pay and their goods given to them instead of selling them at a ridiculous price.    

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