Frank Aliakor (ANLCA, Apapa)
A reform is one of the good things of life because life itself evolves, so reform is necessary for change. The customs service needs a lot of touch and so we can see that the reform is really assisting the customs in so much ways, we can see progressions from ASYCUDA to e-payment. The other day we saw new intakes of customs officers on uniforms, this is really a welcomed development because looking at some years back now the customs have not recruited new officers, but now we can see the reforms taking place and training programs that are being organized to ensure that an average customs officer gains more knowledge on what he is doing and what is obtainable in the direct trade system.
Also in the last meeting we had with the customs, they talked about the need to resolve to payment before assessment, we have discovered that there will be hiccups should it be done like that because some officers will start to use the process as a way of extorting agents, after you have gone ahead to pay correct duty, they might still find one fault or the other.
Emmanuel Bradillo (Clearing agent)
I quite agree that the Nigeria Customs Service needs a lot of reforms due to the major problem of corruption that is plaguing the agency; the major issue is of corruption, right from the top officers to the officers on the field. But, you cannot talk about reforming the customs if the top officers themselves are not clean, it’s like a lecturer who is accused of being a cultist but yet he is advocating that students should shun cultism, what do we make of that?
I strongly support the need for reforms in the customs but my suggestion is that it should start from the top of the ladder down to junior officers, if not, it will look like thief trying to catch a thief.
For any reform to succeed, a change of attitude is what we really need in other for proper sanitization to take effect, if not we will only be embarking on ‘merry go round’ and there will always be bottlenecks in the process. Finally, I want the task force or the reform committee and management of customs to check the activities of the FOU officers, reform cannot be complete if they still go about seizing dully cleared containers from the port in order to get something.
Fidelis Okoro (Importer)
There is need for efficiency and effective service delivery that is free from corruption in the Customs. For this reason, I am in support of the idea. It’s high time that the Customs reported directly to the Presidency rather than under go what we call hurdles in the so called ministry which I believe is the major cause of problems in Customs.
The Customs lost track years ago and ministry of finance is not helping matters
Walter Ukegbu (maritime journalist)
I support reforms of any nature especially if it’s tailored towards the right cause, but the problem with reforms in the customs is that each CG that comes in always wants to reform one thing or the other, most times you find out that its not because they want to do it right but to enrich their own pockets.
We have been hearing of many kinds of reforms all the time but still, officers are still conniving and containers are still missing, the last three CG’s we have had have always come with one reform or the other, yet officers are still corrupt.
We must understand that the freight forwarder cannot perpetuate on any corruption or underpayment without the help of a customs officer, so in order to do a thorough reform in the customs, the right thing to do is to first of all remove corruption from the system by making sure that the remuneration for customs officers is okay, they should be well taken care of; salaries and allowance should be given and build barracks for them and provide other welfare packages. After this they should read the riot act to all the officers and anyone caught in any illegality should be dismissed.
Ezeoha Nwonu (Freight Forwarder, Seme)
I am in total support because, it will enable Customs officers to face their duties squarely and also improve the service. If they are still under the ministry of finance or internal affairs, there will be external influence but if they are autonomous, the Service will be better off
Isaiah Okonkwo (Clearing Agent)
I am in support because corruption is on the high side in the Service since nobody is monitoring them.
Their boss at times is even the kingpin of corruption but when the body is given an opportunity to report directly to the presidency, there will closer monitoring.
It will reduce corruption and will also ginger them to their actual responsibility which is to collect revenue for the government. It’s necessary for customs to be autonomy because it will aid genuine trade facilitation.