Igwe Kingsley (General Secretary, NAGAFF)
We want to see reforms because of the situation in the industry nowadays. So with the conference coming up, I think we want to hear that the CG has plans to minimize some of the bottlenecks caused by custom operations, and how this regime can improve efficiency of the custom services. Then, apart from that, we are in an era where there is high competition in the region, especially in the advent of African Continental Free Trade Area. How is customs actually strategizing to improve efficiency and make our ports competitive? I hope that these issues and more will be addressed at the conference.
Sir John Oforbike (ANLCA Chieftain)
You know this CG is a thorough-breed officer, well-learned and well-traveled. He’s a seasoned customs officer who has risen from the ranks to where he is today. The Customs annual conference is a way to interact with the stakeholders and senticize the general public about customs procedures and what is taking place from January to December as well as what they expect from the stakeholders. It is a very good idea to revive the CG conference. The CG conference will bring customs closer to the people. The revenue officers are supposed to be close to the people they are collecting revenue from.
One of the importance of the conference is that there is a new Customs Act which the customs have not come up with to tell people the contents. There is supposed to be general education on the content of the Act. So the CG conference will enhance relationships with the stakeholders. The CG conference will educate stakeholders on the development of modern procedures. The CG conference will enhance custom revenue and it will also enhance knowledge of the practitioners. I think the CG conference is everything about development.
Taiwo Fatomilola (National PRO AREFFN)
I’m not expecting anything much because Customs have been dodgy somehow from a lot of issues that have been affecting the maritime industry generally. They are not ready to address it. The CG is trying to satisfy his people over the interest of Nigeria as a whole. That is the way I see it. So there is nothing special. I’m not expecting anything much from it.
We are having a network issue yet they have extended customs contract with Web Fontaine. For the past 16 years, what have they been doing? Is there any bondage or is there any oath between Nigeria customs and Web Fontaine? For the past one and a half weeks, we have been having challenges with the network server and the customs are shouting trade facilitation. So I’m not expecting anything different. It is just a jamboree.
Humphrey Okwuosa (Apapa Chapter Secretary, NCMDLCA)
I will say we are blessed now to have a seasoned core customs officer as CG. It is quite unlike the last administration and it’s because of it that these new ideas are coming up. I think it will be a place of policy formulation to facilitate trade as this new regime is concerned. It will be a good gathering. Issues and policies that concern the maritime industry will be brainstormed and I’m hopeful that it will be to the advantage of both the private sector and government. Everything we are working towards is just enhanced and seamless business transactions. Hence we are hopeful that compliant business will go on. He’s a good man. The conference will come up with ideas that will facilitate trade and then bring the clearing chain to be within 48 hours. So we are hopeful and anticipating.
Anthony Onyike (National Vice President, NAFFAC)
The customs are getting it all wrong. The economy is not good for the kind of duty they are giving. There is high duty on cargo and they should reduce duty completely to accommodate all the problems in the economy. I hope this will be addressed at the CG conference. We cannot afford that great hike in duty. We pay high duty for imported goods and that will be suicidal for the kind of economy that we have. That is my position. We are hopeful that this CG conference will address these important issues and not just a business as usual meeting.
Onyekachi Ojinma (ANLCA Chairman, Seme Border Chapter)
We are not expecting much from it, because the new CG’s policies are still tight. Anyway, he is doing well for now. But we are not expecting much from that CG conference. For me, It’s a custom thing. So there’s no new thing that they will give us because all the new things that they are doing, they are doing it through the new controllers in the various commands. So I don’t think it will bring any positive change in the area of business. The Customs tariffs and duties are still high and nothing has been done. So to me, I don’t see anything new coming up. It is just a Customs thing. There is nothing new the CG conference will give us.
Stanley Ezenga (General Secretary, Western Zone NAGAFF)
You know, anytime there’s a CG conference, it’s just for them to showcase what they did over the years. Stating how many seizures, how many people were condemned and the court decisions that they had and all things like that. That is exactly what they normally do anytime they have a conference like that. So, this year, I don’t think it’s going to be different from the norm. It is going to be the same narrative with little or no difference. But we are hopeful that this year’s conference might take a new shape particularly in addressing the peculiar issues we have in the ports pertaining to Customs processes.
Festus Ukwu (National Secretary, NCMDLCA)
Reviving this CG conference shows the kind of deal the new CG wants to use to change the narratives. It shows he is an accomplished Custom officer. It shows he is now bringing back the good days of Custom where the freight forwarders and stakeholders are brought together to air their views on the lapses and goodies that have taken place in custom formations and the maritime industry at large every year. It’s a good recommendation for the new CG. I hope and I also pray that he continues with the zeal which he has started to build confidence in the maritime sector through the custom service as well as build confidence in members of the freight forwarding industry on customs issues. The reintroduction of the Customs CG conference is a good development.