The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency convene an International Trade Summit where stakeholders in the international trade from across the country will assemble to compare notes and come up with complete and sustainable and enduring solution to the myriad of problems confronting the industry in Nigeria.
The National Public Relations Officer of NAGAFF, Mr. Stanley Ezenga who made this call in a press release he issued in Lagos last week also said it was time President Muhammadu Buhari called to order every party involved in the various breaches noticeable at the entry points with a view to addressing all matters and save the country from the ongoing cargo diversion and loss of revenue due to the Government.
He observed that the prevalence of accusations and counter accusations between the ports users and the operators in the nation’s international trade entry points over trade facilitation and corruption would continue endlessly as long as port users refused to be compliant to regulations; and Government Agencies refused to enforce the laws but rather prefer to connive with the trading public to cheat the same Government they pledged to serve, respect and protect.
According to him,” With this picture in our mind it may be right for one to conclude that we are witnessing a system break-down in our daily activities at the international entry points of Nigeria.In order to arrest the present shameful act with the advent of the change mantra of the present
Government. It is the opinion of NAGAFF that except we enforce the laws and regulations governing our international trade, the idea of change shall remain a mirage”.
The NAGAFF’s spokesman disclosed that facts emerging from the survey conducted by a team of experts in the association to find out the culprits on matters of corruption in the ports management and administration, showed that for every 10 persons associated with port activities, eight of them blamed the government agencies’ representatives for corruption at the ports while the others blamed both parties even as some want to remain neutral, not blaming any of the two parties.
“At the moment, the Anti-Corruption war in the country over time has recorded well over 95% of culprits as public servants which is shameful. We regret to state that the war against corruption in Nigeria may not record appreciable success if Government refuses to apply the Georgian example of reforms whereby the country may start afresh to recruit agents and operatives of the Government with a fresh idea and training skills. Such officers and operatives must be made to understand the basics, principles, characteristics and essence of patriotism in nation building. Under general remarks the experts of NAGAFF who undertook the survey explained that corruption in Nigeria is borne out of greed, lack of patriotism, disrespect for rule of law, failure in the enforcement of relevant laws and lack of fear of God.
“The group concluded that accusations and counter accusations will not solve the perennial problem of corruption in Nigeria. The solution is easily obtained through good Governance and obedience to regulations and laws of the state of Nigeria. To expand the key word (Good Governance) shall include general welfare, protection of life and properties and availability of basic infrastructure for the use of the greater numbers”, he said.
While noting that the duty of the importer, exporter and the freight agents was to make genuine declaration of goods for Customs purposes and other agencies of government formalities to carry on with their statutory duty, he however regretted that the contrary was the case saying that non compliance to import regulation was a factor as well as it was criminal.
Ezenga further stated that the duties of the Nigeria Customs Service and other regulatory agencies was to enforce approved regulations governing international trade at the entry points but more often they choose to connive with the trading public to cheat government’s interest on revenue and quality
assurances and standardization of products adding that that was an act of disloyalty to the government by its operatives as according to him,” Connivance is an act of criminality against the state”.
On the part of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), he opined that they lacked the political will to exercise their legislative and executive powers of Mr. President under Section 5 of the Nigerian Constitution to deal with terminal operators, and shipping companies among others to conform with the terms of contract and port orders.
He continued,” At the moment, issues of illegal charges have been the major problem in our ports thus defeating the essence of ports concessioning. We regret to state that NCS and NPA have failed to apply the law of Section 31 of CEMA 2004 in favour of progressive storage charge of APMT and others.
“In the opinion of NAGAFF it is time Mr. President calls to order every party involved in the various breaches at our entry points with a view to addressing all matters and save the country from the ongoing cargo diversion and loss of revenue due to the Government. We also wish to call for an International Trade Summit where stakeholders in the international trade from across the country will assemble to compare notes and come up with complete and sustainable and enduring solution to the myriad of problems confronting the industry in Nigeria”.
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