The Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Dr. Dikko inde Abdullahi has pleaded with the stakeholders in the maritime sector of the economy to show patience and understanding with the Service as it battle to tackle the challenges still noticeable with the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) introduced by the Service about nine months ago.
Dikko who was speaking in a message at the 60th anniversary and the commissioning of the Ultra-modern permanent National Secretariat of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) in Lagos on Friday recalled that just as the erstwhile Service Providers were unwilling to go, one should expect that they would leave behind a lot of problems in the system in an attempt to pitch the stakeholders against the Service.
While reminding them that every beginning was always difficult, he however called on them to always engage the Management of the Service positively with a view to iron out the perceived problems with the PAAR instrument so as to make it work efficiently and as expected.
He said,” it is better we sit down and look at it intelligently and bring about the solution to that problem harmoniously because let me assure you, even if I leave the Comptroller General position, no other person will come and collect duty on behalf of the Nigeria Customs”.
“So, it is better while we are perfecting whatever the problem, let us sit down and look at it critically and solve it between ourselves”.
He disclosed that the Service had made tremendous progress in the last five years in implementing its six points agenda where capacity building of Customs Officers ranked first.
The Customs boss noted that the Service had trained over 15,000 officers in the core areas of customs operations such as tariff classification, valuation, enforcement and e-customs.
Dikko observed that in line with the Service’s collaboration agenda as well as in line with the request made by the ANLCA President, he had given approval for those training programmes given to the Customs officers be extended to the Customs Agents to bring them at par with the customs officers saying that the first batch of the training would commence later this month at the Customs training College in Lagos.
On the 60th anniversary of ANLCA, Dikko said that the celebration was an indication that the association had come of age as strong and critical institution in trade facilitation chain noting that the commissioning of the permanent National Secretariat symbolized the association’s bold determination to establish itself as a professional body.
Earlier in his welcome address, the National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu appealed to the Comptroller General of Customs to help address the challenges encountered daily by his members as regard the PAAR.
Shittu observed that PAAR even though a laudable project, some people as well as some officers of the Service in the field were working hard to ensure that the lofty idea of the Comptroller General dies calling on the Comptroller General to take drastic measures towards ensuring that the detractors did not succeed in their evil agenda.
In his words,” So, CGC Sir, help us address the issue of PAAR. We evidently saw in South Korea when we visited that PAAR is the best clearing system ever established by any customs authority all over the world and I am bold to say that I witnessed it”.
“That was why we decided to embrace PAAR, we embraced PAAR because it is the facilitator, we embraced it because in the modern time, even the World Customs Organization of which we are member recognized PAAR as a sample for other countries. So, people don’t know what the eggheads in customs were able to put together”.
“After we have seen PAAR as the final authority, people in the field will continue to say no, this one is wrong classification, we need to look into it”.
He therefore advised the Comptroller General of Customs to set up a committee that would involve very responsible members of associations to look at the document critically and suggest better ways of making the project work.
He pleaded with Comptroller General to extend his reforms in the Service to the licensed Customs agents in terms of training so as to better position them to carry out their day to day activity in the ports.
On the new permanent National Secretariat, the ANLCA boss described the success so far achieved in actualizing the dream conceived many years back to team work and dedication as well as the unflinching support the association got from the Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Dr. Dikko Inde Abdullahi.
Highlights of the event were the conferment of awards on some distinguished members of the association, cutting of the anniversary cake, commissioning and unveiling of the association’s Permanent National Secretariat named after the Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Dr. Dikko Inde Abdullahi amongst others.