The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has described as begging the issue the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s claims that the report of the 2012 Presidential Retreat on Port reform was missing from the Ministry arguing that the Minister had no convincing excuse to give to the stakeholders for not implementing the content of the report.
The National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu who made this known in an exclusive interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos said that he was surprised that such statement could come from the Honourable Minister of Transportation since those who served in the committee were still alive.
Shittu who disclosed that the committee was made up of voluntary persons of very high repute who had been successful in their different endeavours pointed out that the government felt it was necessary to put together in place a system that will facilitate the achievement of the 48 hours cargo clearance out of the ports which the committee evolved.
According to him,” I will be surprise if I hear that from the Honourable Minister because those of us who were in the committee are still alive. Membership of the committee were voluntary persons of high repute, who have been a success in their individual endeavours and the government felt it was necessary to put together in place a system that will facilitate the achievement of the 48 hours cargo clearance out of the ports with a model called the five smart steps to cargo clearance which was presented to the then President Goodluck at a maritime interactive session at the Villa and got so much accolades because the presentations of that system was put in place.
“So, it is always the will. For anybody to say he don’t know where to find it, I am a member of the committee, I have copies in my in my iPAD. In fact, when this new government came, somebody which I am not going to mention his name got in touch with me that he needed a copy of that report which I forwarded and the Chairman of that committee, Prof Monye is still alive, he could be reached. So, people should not give excuse that they can’t find the report”.
He maintained that the committee which was supposed to be in place until 2019 was given a timeline and a schedule as it was meant to see through to the implementation of its recommendations in the report regretting that the committee as it were could be best be described as being in a doldrums as the meeting of the committee had not be held for some time now.
The ANLCA boss pointed out that part of the achievement of the committee was the creation of the five smart steps to cargo clearing part of which was the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) of the Nigeria Customs Service since it came about the same time even as he pointed out that the customs PAAR has fallen short of the expectations of the five smart steps.
“But apart from the Presidential committee on Port Reform whose tenure then was to span to 2019 was to see through the areas because when it was set up, timeline was given, schedule was given, the committee was supposed to be in place until that achievement was done. So, we are in a committee that is now in a doldrums because meetings we don’t have, past government has gone with the officials, the Special Adviser, Monye is no longer there, we are just there. So, to me, it means that the government has gotten what they wanted from the committee.
“But I will always advice government that when there is a change; they don’t just throw away everything from the past regime. There are certain things that they can sustain. Among that five smart steps to cargo clearance, only the Nigerian Customs Service has been able to implement, not in totality, part of the five smart steps. This PAAR was supposed to be part of it, you know PAAR came in when? About the same time and that was why our input in the making of PAAR, that was why ANLCA supported it wholeheartedly. But what PAAR has turned out to be now is not in line with that five smart steps.
“If the Honourable Minister is serious about it, he could call a meeting, maybe a one day meeting with that committee, find out what has happened, how far they have gone, all the people are available, Coscharis is here, the other Madam is here. So, almost everybody is here. So, if the Minister is very serious not just telling the press that he can’t find the report”, he said.
He continued,” That forum you are calling a public forum, I was not there, if I was there, I would have replied him that the people who put up that report are still alive and if they check in the Ministry and they don’t have it, they should get in touch, even if they don’t want to talk to the Chairman then because of political considerations, some of us are still are there, I was the Chairman of a Technical Committee, some other people who are stakeholders, they could ask for the names of such people. Of course who is going to summon a meeting of the committee, I am not even competent to summon the meeting, I was neither the Chairman other than a subcommittee chairman that put up the report.
“So, that is begging the issue. You cannot tell me the Minister wants it and what is your status compared to that of the Minister, anybody with a copy of that report should make it available to me, they should have even told him a name or two and he get across to them that look, I need a copy of that report”.
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