As the House of Representatives prepares to flag-off its public hearing on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) is canvassing for the creation of a Customs Service Commission.
The position was contained in a 53-page memorandum which NAGAFF submitted to the Honourable Yakubu Dongara-led committee on the Nigeria Customs Service and which is expected to form the main focus of its presentation when it appears before the lawmakers this week.
According to the document which was jointly signed by the association’s founder, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, its national president, Mr Usman Sanusi and the deputy national president, Mr Eugene Nweke, the Customs had at different times been placed under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs and currently, it is under the Ministry of Finance.
“Where revenue collection is the main focus, the Customs administration generally forms part of the treasury or Finance Ministry. When the primary interest of government is border security, the service is likely to be aligned with ministries such as Internal Affairs which is principally concerned with internal security”, it stated..
Arguing further, the group recalled that “in the past we have seen the Nigeria Customs under the bureaucratic control of the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs and now the Federal Ministry of Finance. It is obvious that the customs under these ministries suffered a lot of set backs which greatly affected its performance and efficiency”.
Urging government to focus attention on the Customs, NAGAFF argued that Customs has been bogged down by the bureaucracy of the civil service and that granting it autonomy. If this is done, the Service will become more responsive.
“The excision of the Customs from the Federal Ministry of Finance will make the customs more focused, dynamic, self-accounting and wholly responsible for its own successes or failures”, the group stressed.
An autonomous Customs will achieve increased efficiency among its personnel, experience enhancement of functions and also develop capabilities to meet emerging challenges while its business relationship will be strengthened, NAGAFF argued, even as it added that an autonomous Customs will focus more on capacity building among its personnel.
Other advantages of granting freedom to Customs according to the association include: Improved service delivery and operational efficiency, avoidance of prolonged delays in concluding matters concerning disputes in the cargo clearance process, increased funding and provision of working facilities for the Customs Service and genuine trade facilitation.
An autonomous Customs will also have the benefits of prompt response to the commercial trading needs of Nigerians, provision of adequate border security patrol, increased revenue generation and collection as well as handling of promotion and staff progression to be in line with other para- military agencies.