Do you support online auction of cargoes?

Sunny Nnebe (PTML, IFFA) I believe the former system is better, because if you say you are applying online, nobody will attend to it, and they would still give it to their friends, they already have their own people that they want to sell the auction to, it is just like the international passport whereby they ask you to apply online and yet it took me six months to get it. Online auction does not give you room to investigate if the cargo is truly inside the container or not, some of the containers are empty containers. The same people that caused irregularities in the manual process would still truncate the electronic system, when they know you are a genuine buyer, they would frustrate you.  

Shedrack Chukwuemeka (Chairman, TCIP Container Complex)I don't think online auction is the best for us at this time; it is only abroad that you see that people are tested and trusted with the online system. Here in Nigeria, customs used to announce that it is wrong for people to buy auction online, so why are they now introducing it? It is not the best. Before now when they give you a document for auction, they will equally issue same to another person, and when you get to the port you would not see the consignment. Also they have said that the auction is not open to customs officers and their families, but then, how would you know the officers and their families? They are still the same people that will contact their brothers all around to come and buy the auction. What they should do is prepare an external committee that would handle the auction. 

Nzeribe Ebere (Secretary, Tin Can Chapter ANLCA) I believe the essence of online auction is to allow transparency in the system, transparency in the sense that those who are qualified to bid are given a fair chance, unlike the previous system whereby it is done based on man-know-man. Online auction sale is good because it allows room for fair play and transparency. However, in every 12, there must be a Judas, even in the manual sale we were doing before, there were infractions, so the level of fraudsters hacking the site would be minimal because customs has what it takes go protect the website, so the rate of hacking would not be too pronounced as people are speculating. 

Ganiu Sulaiman Adeola (Clearing Agent)According to the WTO provisions, the main purpose of customs all over the world is to facilitate trade, but in Nigeria here things are different and our CEMA is out-dated. There should not be any auction at all because out of the goods they propose to auction, there are contraband goods there, if they auction it to anybody, the goods will still end up in the market. What they should do is get across to the major importer and penalise him or her, this is what is obtainable in Ghana, after which they return the goods to the owner. Personally I am against auction because I am a businessman, whether it is online or manually done, I strongly oppose auction because I have been a victim of it.

Stanley Ezenga (National Publicity Sec, NAGAFF)I believe that sometimes, some certain things must be given the benefit of doubt. People are fond of condemning things before arrival. I think we need to give the e-auction structure benefit of doubt. The CG, being an upright and wise man must have gone through the system and process to ensure that it works. So I strongly believe that the e-auction will work.

John Okpono (Merchant Navy)I think it is time we did away with Nigerian attitude and ensure that in anything we do we have to abide by the international standard. Different countries do this e-auctioning, so I see no reason it will not work. It will even reduce corruption but we should ensure that the system and the process are not cumbersome. Let the account be genuine and they should ensure that the money is paid directly into the government coffers. Most of our business men and women do their transactions online so I see no reason why we cannot auction online too.

Increase Uche (Acting President, NAGAFF)There is no system that is fault-free. So my only advice is for support to the new process if at all it is intended to bring about the good mind-set of the government. The fear that it might be hijacked by fraudsters cannot be completely ruled out. Also looking at the fact that most custom officers are not computer literate might can also pose some challenges. All the same, there is no need to be afraid; those who are interested should apply. 

Chike Aneke (AMARTO)I will like to discourage anything that has to do with e-auctioning because it can bring fraud where one person can answer different names and bid for all the goods and now be the person that will be selling to other people. The process might also be hijacked; even the auctioneers themselves might hijack the process to favour their relatives and friends. So I am advising that they should be more careful and try to filter some of the hindrances to ensure that the system favour everybody who applied. Some people will like to use the process to enrich themselves and impoverish others.