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Maritime industry can tackle post-pandemic job challenges – Iju Nwabunike

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…As ANLCA Boss calls for rejuvenating export of commodities, including Cocoa, Palm oil, others***

Nigeria should not be intimidated by the fear of post COVID-19 job-loss era, as the country’s maritime endowments if properly harnessed is more than enough to create jobs and significantly swallow post-pandemic challenges.

The National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Mr Tony Nwabunike stated this on Wednesday, in Lagos, even as he expressed dismay with the current neglect of the nation’s maritime potentials.

“We have watched the shocking and ongoing devastating impacts of the Corona Virus Disease on various sectors of the economy, leading to massive job loss and general quake in the global economy. Though not completely insulated from the effects of the pandemic, the Nigerian Maritime Industry holds potentials to serve as the country’s low hanging fruits for economic growth, stability and survival”, Iju Nwabunike stated, pointing out that the Maritime terrain is genuinely more resilient than Aviation.

“Unlike the aviation industry where government agencies like Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and Nigeria Airspace management Agency including airlines are either mulling salary slash, workers lay off  and shrinking in human capital needs, the maritime industry still holds the ace as indispensable mode for global trade and commerce

“Rather than worry over likelihood of job loss, Customs brokers, freight forwarders, truck owners, chandlers and other ancillary service providers in the industry should gravitate towards keeping themselves abreast with virtual presence and operations in the ports.

“At ANLCA we have always advocated for a modern port regime with a lesser amount of persons coming into port areas. This will now be a fast track drive because persons and businesses can meet virtually, submit, process, and receive documents online without leaving the comforts of our homes and offices.

Also read:  Customs obstructions hindering ease of doing business, says NECA

“While the port cannot be virtual, our presence can be. We have been partaking in Webinars where we communicate effectively, take business and corporate decisions without traveling. This is the new curriculum we are recommending as basic training content for everyone wishing to use ports and other maritime services moving forward.

“ANLCA’s independent research shows that over 70 percent of persons using our ports are yet to understand these things which they need for their professional future and business survival. Over 80 percent of them do not even know the many unused business tools to advance their trade embedded inside the mobile phones they carry about.

“Unknown to them, they can set up virtual meetings to discuss all business-related issues and perfect related bank transactions without moving around the cities bugged down by snail speed traffic.

“The haulage section will always be there. It cannot be taken over virtually, we only foresee a regime of improved rail services”, Nwabunike further highlighted, before proceeding to advise on how best, to best to harvest optimal gains, in the post-COVID-19 era.

*Exports: Nigeria as a matter of urgency must develop non oil exports to keep jobs up. Much more needed to be done in the agricultural sector.What do we have to give ?

“As a country, we took an unfortunate backstage position in the export of commodities like cocoa, palm oil, and many other agricultural products. This must resume. The value chain from the farms through logistics to the ports for outward shipping will employ more persons than.

“We as a country, should identify products for which we have a comparative advantage. Nigerian made electric cables have been noted for being of higher quality than most imported ones. The government should be the number one buyer of quality made in Nigeria products while encouraging citizens to do the same without promoting monopoly and profiteering.

*Cutting Unnecessary Imports: Urgent steps must be taken to refine crude oil locally and stop the importation of refined petroleum products. A good amount of what should have been earnings for the country from the sales of crude oil has gone into payment for subsidies on imported products.

“It doesn’t make logical and economic sense for Nigeria to be buying what she has from outside simply because she failed to process her crude, could not fix her refineries and suffering shifted deadlines in the commencement of operations of expected private refineries.

“That we have cotton but still depend on other countries to produce our clothing needs is a result of a fall in the local textile industry. The industry is dying partly due to lack of power as it was discovered that it is cheaper to manufacture textiles outside Nigeria than doing it in the country.

“Our textile industry alone can produce jobs running into millions for a 200m population and exporting to other countries. Rice self-sufficiency is still a struggle even after its removal from forex and ban from importation through land borders.

*Avoiding Waste: A lot of government funds have gone into wasteful and unnecessary spending on foreign trips, bogus seminars and conferences in costly hotels and many other avoidable expenses. Cutting off such expenses will not only save cost for the government but will help to get attention to relevant areas.

“Agencies of government in the maritime sector are culpable in this regard with most of the conferences being mere talk shops, getting monotonous and repeating the same things over and over again without taking concrete actions to quickly improve the sector

*Need for Private Investment in rail coaches: Whereas the railway is government-owned, there is the need to allow private investment in ownership of coaches to move cargoes from dry ports to the seaports and vice versa. This mode of transport if encouraged and open for the private sector, will bring about the cheaper and safer mode of cargo movement within the country”, the ANLCA National President explained further.

 

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Maritime Advocacy Foundation Opposes Plans to Repeal Shippers Council Act

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Maritime Advocacy Foundation Opposes Plans to Repeal Shippers Council Act

The Maritime Advocacy Foundation (MAF) has expressed strong opposition to the covert plan to repeal the Nigerian Shippers Council Act (Cap. 133 LFN 2004) by the Federal House of Representatives Committee on Shipping Services. 

The repeal, slated for May 27, 2024, aims to replace the Council with a new agency.

At a press conference in Lagos on Friday, the Head of Publicity, MAF, Fwdr. Dr. Eugene Nweke emphasized the crucial role shippers play in global trade, financial exchange, and transport, citing their contributions to job creation and revenue generation. 

The foundation highlighted international conventions that protect shippers’ rights and interests, such as the Hague and Hague-Visby Rules, Hamburg Rules, CMR Convention, and CIM/COTIF Convention.

“We urge all stakeholders to recognize the vital role shippers play in our national economy and join us in opposing this repeal…”

MAF praised the Nigerian Shippers Council for safeguarding shippers’ interests for over 36 years, despite attempts to undermine its authority and urged the Ministers of Transportation and Marine & Blue Economy to protect Nigerian shippers’ interests and reject the repeal of the Shippers Council Act.

The group emphasized the importance of the Shippers Council in:

Publisher, MMS, Kingsley Anatole and Head, Publicity, Maritime Advocacy Foundation (MAF), Fwdr. Eugene Nweke during the media briefing on Friday in Lagos.

*- Protecting shippers from unfair trade practices, unfair competition, and bad business practices

-* Maintaining economic and trading stability, offering advisory and recommendations on informed trade realities and statistics

*- Evaluating trading climates and proffering solutions, remedying market failures, protecting the environment, and promoting economic management idealism

-* Ensuring efficient delivery of infrastructural services to shippers, based on fair competition and satisfactory delivery services

*- Identifying factors impeding the cost of production and quality services, and ensuring suitable services for shippers

-* Possessing legislative oversight jurisdiction to monitor and enforce compliance by other agencies

MAF therefore called on the press and the public to join them in resisting the repeal and supporting the protection of Nigerian shippers’ interests, like other countries do.

“We urge all stakeholders to recognize the vital role shippers play in our national economy and join us in opposing this repeal. Let us work together to protect the interests of our hardworking and innovative Nigerian shippers,” the group stressed.

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BORDER: FG, Benin Republic Meet in Segbana, To Fast-track Kebbi’s Tsamiya Border Reopening

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BORDER: FG, Benin Republic Meet in Segbana, To Fast-track Kebbi's Tsamiya Border Reopening

… CGC Adeniyi eyes strengthening ties with Benin Customs, to enhance trade facilitation 

A high-level delegation from the Federal Government of Nigeria has engaged its counterparts from the Benin Republic in an inter-ministerial meeting, to discuss the reopening of the Segbana-Tsamiya border post in Kebbi State. 

The meeting which was held on May 21, 2024, aimed at fast-tracking the operationalisation of the border post, in a bid to enhance regional integration and boost economic activities,

Among the Nigerian delegation are the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Dr. Nasir Idris,  Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, Director of Home Finance at the Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Ali Mohammed, and Dr. Dakorinama Alabo George, Director General Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA), among other dignitaries.  

The discussions delved into comprehensive issues surrounding the border post’s opening, focusing on logistics, security measures, and the economic impact. Feasibility studies were presented, outlining expected benefits such as increased trade and potential challenges that might arise. 

The deliberation also included setting timelines and identifying necessary infrastructure to ensure a smooth operation.

During the visit, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, affirmed that engagement between the two countries will foster their efforts to enhance the economy. According to him, the aim was to improve the free flow of trade and commercial activities between the two countries, primarily through Northern Borders.

He said, “To ensure closer working and economic relations between Nigeria and the Benin Republic. Over the last six months, within this collaboration framework, we have been working with our colleagues from the Beninese Customs Administration to ensure that we bring the economy together through easy border crossing with goods.” 

On her part, the Director General of the Benin Customs Administration, Adidjatou Hassan, appreciated the move to reopen the border, which, according to her, will strengthen the trade activities between citizens of the two countries.

She said, “This development is expected to increase economic cooperation and strengthen bilateral ties between the two nations. We are committed to sustaining our seamless collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service while enhancing security at our borders and trade activities.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, said the decision to form the forum was based on Presidents Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s and Patrice Talon’s directives to strengthen social and economic interaction as well as expanding trade and commercial ties between the citizens of the two nations.

The Kebbi State Governor, Nasir Idris, who was part of the delegation, thanked the two countries’ presidents for making moves to reinvigorate the free trade and transportation of goods to various destinations within the two countries.

Governor Nasir, however, emphasised that “the state has maintained good neighbourliness with the Republic of Benin on economic activities and social interaction as both beneficial of the border.” 

Further deliberations involved addressing disputes and agreeing on the operational framework. Reinvigoration of a joint commission between Nigeria and Benin took centre stage in the discussion. 

Also, a significant step towards resolving issues and ensuring the necessary infrastructure forms part of the discussion. 

The meeting concluded with a summary of key points discussed and a formal statement of commitment from both sides. Also, an agreement was reached on scheduling a follow-up meeting in June 2024 to monitor progress and address any outstanding issues. 

The delegation agreed to hold a bi-national committee meeting with a defined commitment for subcommittees to submit their reports within two weeks to streamline seamless efforts towards border reopening.

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CUSTOMS Former CG Mustapha Lauds CGC Adeniyi On Overwhelming Transformation In Service

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CUSTOMS Former CG Mustapha Lauds CGC Adeniyi On Overwhelming Transformation In Service

… Adeniyi says he considers Mustapha’s visit a huge honour

A revered former Comptroller General of Customs, Ahmed Mustapha gave Kudos on Tuesday, over the overwhelming transformation that has taken place in the Nigeria Customs Service since he left the Service.

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 Ahmed Mustapha who served from 1999 to 2004 specifically commended the CGC, Adewale Adeniyi, as he expressed his gratitude and admiration for the extensive innovations, particularly, on IT advancements the service had undergone.

The Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), Adewale Adeniyi, received the former Comptroller-General of Customs, Ahmed Mustapha, on Tuesday, 20 May 2024 at the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Headquarters in Abuja.

“I am deeply impressed by the transformations that have taken place within the Nigeria Customs Service since I left office in 2004. The advancements in technology, infrastructure, and overall efficiency are commendable and reflect the dedication of the current leadership and staff,” Mustapha remarked, during his visit,

 I am grateful that he found the time to visit and see firsthand the developments at the NCS headquarters.”

CGC Adewale Adeniyi while warmly welcoming the retired CGC, sincerely appreciated Mustapha’,, stressing that he considers the visit a great honour.  The CGC was once, a Service national spokesman and image maker, under the former CGC, Mustapha’, during which time, the former CG loved Adeniyi like his own eyes!

“It is an honour to receive former CGC Ahmed Mustapha today. His contributions laid a solid foundation for the progress we are building upon. I am grateful that he found the time to visit and see firsthand the developments at the NCS headquarters.”

Adeniyi also requested the management team to join in the pleasure of hosting Mustapha, highlighting the importance of recognising the efforts of past leaders in shaping the future of the service. 

“We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us,” Adeniyi noted, adding: “Their legacy and hard work have paved the way for the innovations and improvements we are implementing today.”

The visit was marked by a tour of the headquarters, where Mustapha was shown the latest technological advancements of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) centre, which have enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of the NCS. 

The meeting concluded with both leaders emphasising the importance of continuity and the sharing of knowledge across different eras of leadership.

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