The immediate past National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu continues his hard and meticulous look on corruption and how Government had unwittingly enabled Corruption in the port, politely explaining: Why 48hr Cargo clearing is impossible in the nation’s ports!
In Foreign ports, you hardly see people, only machines. In Nigerian ports, every where is encumbered, with humans, particularly those in uniforms. Why?
Everyone wants to go to the port; every uniform personnel wants to be posted to the port, because they see the port as a place where you cannot go home empty handed. Something must fall into your hands by using the power of your uniform, whether you have relevance with what is going on or not!
There is no cut out limit to interference from any Government official in the port process; that is why we could not get it right over 48 hours cargo clearance.
And every agency of Government that is in port is empowered to create Internally generated revenue source from the port to survive; NAFDAC, SON, Quarantine etc. They will issue receipt because they are generating revenue for their department.
In order to meet the target set by Government, they will do anything to frustrate you. When they tell them ‘for every … container, you pay N40,000 to plant quarantine’, and you have like 10 containers, is that not N400,000? When you ask why, they say because there are some woods they used to shock the cargoes inside the container, that’s what we are paying for. Then when you pay that money, has that made the wood become correct? Is that not ‘Enabling’?
So if along the line the boy says “Oga no mind them make una bring N10,000, I will allow you to go” and you pay, would you still be asking why is corruption in the port?
So in order to meet the Federal Government target, people are helping themselves to meet their own target too. That’s why government is an enabler!
All the systems of operation all over the world have been given to the Government. The Government have refuse to follow because we don’t have a Lead Agency in the port. We don’t have that agency that can overrule others and say ‘no, we can’t do this!’
But when you travel abroad, what do you see at the front? You see a person responsible for what every other person wants. When they want Plant Quarantine, they alert them and they wait for you. If they open your bag, they see something they know if it is drug, they call the drug people.
But here, everyone is seen as fraudulent, so everybody must look into the container. And they pay people to help them look into your container, so that they can waylay you on the road. They whole system is so rubbished, that even importers that are compliant are not encouraged to remain compliant. That is why government is the enabler.
Federal government set up committee on port reforms; we came out with five smart steps to cargo clearance, which has been articulated, and if that has worked it would have been perfect. An aspect of it is the Pre Arrival Assessment Report that Customs is doing.
It was with fun-fair that these five data was presented to the then President in the Villa, and Dr. Okonjo said ‘Seven years from now, this committee must see it through’; but corruption will not allow it; because every arm of government in the port belongs to one ministry or the other.
In other words, we need an Inter-Ministerial Office, because Customs cannot give instructions to NAFDAC person; NAFDAC cannot give instruction to Plant Quarantine; the Army cannot give instruction to Customs, because they are headed by different Ministers. So, how will things work?
Q: Let’s look at the situation with the vehicles, how would you evaluate Nigerian auto policy, and its impact on the nation’s socio-economic growth?
Unless you are not conversant with the Auto-policy, the Auto policy made nonsense of the proposal we gave to Federal Government, because that too was a means to an end. Those who package auto-policy, is like those who package the concessioning of the port, with all intent and purpose. It wasn’t done properly.
People were telling us: ‘We are going to make “Made in Nigerian cars”!
But, why deceive us that it is made in Nigeria? Why not tell us that they want to come and do assembly in Nigeria? How many employees do an assembly plant that uses Robots will employ, instead of manufacturing?
We told Government this, but we were called bad names. Honda for instance declared that they had lands in Epe, they were going to mount where Honda cars will be produced, but since 1999 till today, there’s been nothing like that!
There is no way you will do lopsided advantage for people and something won’t give. They are coming here to assemble the cars; fine. But the parts for assembling of the cars are manufactured elsewhere in another economy; were people are having jobs. They now bring those parts at 5 per cent, they say because it is CKD (Completely Knocked Down), so you need to do more job because each part of the vehicle is not less than 2000 pieces that makes up a car.
We gave them a proposal on how to utilize that 2000 per car to multiply it by the number of jobs they can give Nigerians; that’s in millions!
But, assuming they are coming with body, they say it is Semi Knocked Down; you give them at 10 per cent. They said for every car they are able to produce here they can bring in two fully built cars, that’s ratio 2:1; those one will pay 20 per cent. And with that the price will come down. But Look at the price of those assembled cars in Nigeria today, can you compare them to how much you pay abroad?
Sadly, even Nigerian Governments are not using the ‘Made in Nigeria’ vehicles. Innoson Motors has spent so much money to build a Made in Nigeria vehicle and our Governments are not using it. How will the man improve in quality and quantity.
Our association came up and told the Government during one of our presentation on Auto-policy, that there are 2000 parts in a car; that if you go to Aba and Enugu there are no part of car that cannot be produced in that place; it might not be very smooth but they must give you something that works. Allow the Ministry of Trade and Investment look for the sources of the manufacturing of those individual parts and let Nigerians invest with the aid of soft loan to bring in the machinery for producing some of those parts; and let us have two or three different companies producing one part, so there will be competition, there will be supplies and you don’t have a dead end.
All the parts of a car are not manufactured in one place. That means we are talking about two thousand companies that will employ people for you to produce one car!
We went for research in India. India gave itself eight (8) years and they do what is called graduated taxation of import. In order to make the assemblers very serious, they posited them at par, … with imported vehicles. Then government started bringing it down. The newer your car, the less duty you pay. The older your car, the more duty you pay. Even with that they still have environmental problems. But on their roads you see newer cars than old cars.
And over time TATA and others became stronghold names. In a population of 1.2 billions, it is Indian cars you see; if you see Toyota, it must be Toyota India, manufactured there.
We belong to the same International Federation Customs Brokers (IFCB) Association. With our members there, we sit down and discuss, ‘how did you manage it?’ But in Nigeria we don’t want that. When we bring a brand new car from abroad, you are paying 70 per cent of a bench mark value. But when they bring in the fully built through their names as assemblers, they pay 20 per cent.
So what they do is to bring in as many of the fully built in lieu of the ones they are going to manufacture; and its more in excess of what they have already manufactured.
As a journalist, go and meet the Auto Council and tell them that you want to go to those factories, and get the number of people that are there working; or their records of imports. It is always hidden!
So the Government is the enabler and that is why people smuggle in those goods, thereby landing them first in Cotonu and all those places; and here we are, crying!
Why should it happen? You block the place!
And smuggling is something you can never fight to a finish!!