Don’t Contest, If You Can’t Square Up To Customs- Shittu

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Prince Olayiwola Shittu

… As US Ships move First Oil After 40-Year-Long Export Ban

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) may have written to members wishing to contest leaderships of various chapters to steer off, if they would not square up to Customs, in terms of knowledge, after elections.

This was contained in the seasonal message by National President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu,  sent to members, noting that the “screening of contestants for the various positions has been concluded” and “Election date is mid-January 2016”.

Col. Hameed Ali“As qualified as all of them may be, one thing I would want to say to them is in the fact that, they should not just aspire to these positions for their selfish interest, but to really render selfless service to the membership of ANLCA in their various chapters”, Shittu said, in a statement made available by his P.A to the media, Joe Sanni, stressing that the “statement is without prejudice”; as every aspiration must be anchored on a vision, to protect the association and membership goals. More so, as the association must consequently review its relationship with the Nigeria Customs Service.

“Our relationship with Customs, needs to be revisited, articulated and discussed deeply, extensively at the level of the chapters and far reaching decisions taken, that will be mutually agreeable to both parties and easily implementable”, the high command stated, hinting that when the drum beat changes, the dancing steps may also have to change.

Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI
Customs PRO and Image Maker, WALE ADENIYI

“Gone are the days when only Customs officials, on the basis of their uniform, will continue to claim superiority of knowledge of classification and valuation issues.

“We must begin to mutually agree on certain items that are either right or wrong. To customs, who are supposed to not only be revenue collectors, they should go beyond that brief, to facilitate trade, instead of insisting on being right on borderline issues.

“Customs must always give up on issues that they are not totally convinced about, instead of using their uniform to intimidate Agents and frustrate them to submission. We must agree on modalities to achieve this, and ensure that a situation like that does not arise anymore.

“We must also condemn in its strongest terms the unconducive environment the shipping companies and terminal operators subject Agents to, treating us as if we are sub-humans in our own country. This must be stopped forthwith by the executives coming into power.

“They just have to take actions to protect all Agents’ dignity. Same goes for government Agencies who ordinarily have no business extorting money from agents, while performing their statutory functions in the ports, for which they are adequately remunerated, via their monthly salaries. Their impunity must stop!

“A database of Agents must be developed forthwith, with which ANLCA must seek to harmonize with shipping companies and terminal operators, with a view to checking the rowdiness, overcrowding and importantly, sanitizing the ports environment.

“Executives must begin to push the customs to issue passwords attached to each license/Agency in order to sanitize the ports, check fraud and, ensure that every license is held accountable for misuse”, the body emphasized, adding on, other issues which included instituting a process, where agents are consistently trained and retrained, to ensure they confidently defend their jobs, when the need arises.

“We must stop being subservient to Customs officers, whose stock in trade is just to intimidate Agents to submission.
I needed to point out these issues because our members who vie for offices without acknowledging the germane reason why they do so, also need to be educated about procedures for valuing items and the rules of classification.

“Therefore, they are now being admonished to reflect on the actual reasons for occupying public office.
The arbitrary charges slammed on importers and Agents by shipping companies and terminal operators must be resisted”, the umbrella body of Customs brokers posited, admonishing agents, beginning with the incoming executives, particularly from the Western zone, to brace up, for a more dynamic 2016, especially its first quarter.

On a sad note, the immediate past National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Obicee Okonkwo has lost his wife.

In the meantime, the first export cargo of U.S.-produced crude oil has departed the port of Corpus Christi on board Theo T crude oil tanker in less than two weeks since the lifting of the 40-year export ban.

The cargo of oil and condensate completed loading at NuStar’s North Beach Terminal located in the port of Corpus Christi on December 31, 2015 and left for Italy, where it is expected to arrive on January 20th, the ship’s AIS data shows.

The oil stems from ConocoPhillips’s wells in south Texas.

With this shipment NuStar and ConocoPhilips beat Enterprise Products Partners L.P. which announced its intention to load the first post-ban export cargo in January.

What is believed to be now the second 600,000 barrel cargo of domestic light crude oil is scheduled to load at the Enterprise Hydrocarbon Terminal (EHT) on the Houston Ship Channel during the first week of January 2016.

Both cargoes have been secured by oil trader giant Vitol SA.

Additional report from World Maritime News