The founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has expressed support for the new Customs Administration’s decision to devolve more powers to the Zones. According to him, this move is aimed at enhancing efficiency and revenue generation within the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Dr. Aniebonam expressed his views in an official statement on Wednesday, commending this time-tested policy that dates back to 2004. He recalled how, in the past, this policy had yielded significant benefits for both the NCS and the nation as a whole.
He underlined the historical role of the zonal commands of the NCS in the proper management and administration of the Customs and Excise Management Act before 2004. Dr. Aniebonam also highlighted the erosion of these powers, citing the responsibility of the then Customs Board for this change.
Expressing his support for the recent decision to revive the authority of the zonal commands, Dr. Aniebonam pointed out that this action contradicts the current spirit of renewed hope for Nigeria.
He went on to commend the new Customs Comptroller General (CGC); Adewale Adeniyi for taking a pragmatic approach, choosing to pursue effective strategies rather than passively adhering to inefficiencies.
He stressed that NAGAFF is hopeful that the restoration of authority to core professional officers of the NCS will transform the current state of affairs. He also rehearsed the importance of working with individuals who possess in-depth knowledge of customs matters, as these matters are highly technical and require professionals with the requisite expertise.
NAGAFF expects that with the restructuring of the NCS’s administrative framework to enhance the productivity of zonal and area commands, trade alerts originating from Customs headquarters will decrease.
Aniebonam expressed concern that every trade alert from NCS headquarters results in additional Customs duties, regardless of compliance levels, which is detrimental to trade. He called upon the Comptroller General of Customs to address this issue and trust area Comptrollers and operational officers to handle trade disputes locally.
Speaking further, Aniebonam also encouraged freight forwarding practitioners to take advantage of the lifting of the ban on the 43 items and ensure full compliance with proper declarations for Customs purposes. He stressed that non-compliance with Customs operations can have adverse consequences, and it is essential to maintain professionalism in customs ports and borders.
In his words: “Before 2004 it is on record that the zonal commands of the Nigeria Customs Service were effectively involved in the proper management and administration of the Customs and Excise Management Act. How and what led to the erosion of such powers of the zonal commands are better explained by the (then) Customs Board”, Aniebonam stated.
“Whatever might be the reason or reasons for such anti-trade action is definitely contrary to the new mantra of renewed hope for Nigeria”, he further said, and praised the new Customs Comptroller General CGC, for his pragmatic inspiration to pursue what works, rather than sheepishly adhere to inefficiencies.
“Great to note from the address delivered by the Comptroller General of Customs Mr. Wale Adeniyi at Ogun 1 during his official visitation some months ago, he did emphasize on the necessity to rejig the service structure to enhance operational and administrative relevance of the zones and area commands of the Service.
“Regret the level of waste of public funds at the zonal commands under the leadership of an Asst Comptroller General of Customs, Comptrollers, Deputy Comptrollers, and all other ranks idling and sleeping for lack of any meaningful work to do, aside from the monthly meetings of the Area Comptrollers of the zones.
“It is quite refreshing to note under the mantra of a renewed hope for Nigeria, the Nigeria Customs Service is advocating a devolution of powers and authority of the SERVICE structure to enhance the zonal and area commands productivity”, the NAGAFF Founder noted.