The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) has acceded to the demand by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) to set up a joint committee comprising its members, members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the officials of the Nigeria Customs Service so as to assist the Service in actualizing its dreams.
Ali who made this position known while addressing members of NAGAFF during his one day official working visit to the headquarters of the association in Lagos Monday stated that the setting up of the committee would create a platform that would enable them interact on a regular basis.
He noted that if the committee is in place, it would enable them interact on a regular basis and that when there are issues, the committee would be able to look at it and proffer a solution even before it becomes a problem adding that the gap between the service and its agents was that of communication which he believed would be bridged once the committee is in place.
According to him,” So, therefore, we are here to assure you that we are partners in progress. We have in the past listened to your ideas, we have imbibed quite a number of them and like the President said, we are now on the part of creating a stronger synergy and I buy your advice that we should form a committee that will incorporate NAGAFF, ANLCA and the Nigeria Customs Service. That will create that platform that will enable us interact on a regular basis and when there are issues, that committee will be able to look at it and proffer a solution before even it becomes a problem. The gap between us is issue of communication and I believe that once we have such a committee in place that meet on regular basis, all these issues that are now seemingly becoming a problem can be resolved with less stress”.
On why he made the visit to NAGAFF, the CGC said,” Let me therefore state this fact, my coming here this morning is to further the relationship that has existed between us.
“When you requested that wanted to see us, we felt if we say yes, you should come to Abuja, I believe that we might end up with maximum of ten of you realizing of course today, the economy is hard, getting to Abuja is no longer one hour, it is now about three to five hours because you have to go to Kaduna and then drive to Abuja. So you have one hour to Kaduna and then, two hours to Abuja and then back. We then felt we are in a better position to come so that we meet with everybody that is involved. Two, we will also have the chance to interact with quite a number of you and three, it will give me the opportunity to see quite some faces that I have never seen long time ago”.
The customs boss further observed that his visit to the NAGAFF headquarters was to further underscore the relationship that existed between the association and the service saying that, “there cannot be customs without clearing agents just like there cannot be clearing agents without customs”.
He continued,” And if we are the one that grant license for you to operate, then there is no gainsaying you are part and parcel of us. We don’t see these organizations as separate organizations but we these organizations as sister organizations that were established to be able to ensure the ease of doing business with the maritime, ports and borders”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the acting National President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche suggested the setting up of a joint committee involving officials of the Nigeria Customs Service with the Deputy Comptroller-General Of Customs Enforcement and Tariff and Trade and NAGAFF as members to continually rub minds so as to put their contributions targeted at actualizing a new customs of their dream.
Uche further called for the resuscitation of the Customs Consultative Committee (CCC) which according to him would be desirable to the association.
“Our contributions in terms of a paper which is a product of long and painstaking studies of customs operations which will be in the form of a working document will be presented to you for later perusal and action.
“As a way of concluding, we wish to pledge our total and unalloyed support to you as you strive to fulfill the mandate given to you by Mr. President, we are not unmindful of the recent controversy over wearing of uniform or not. We made our position known then and we are still standing by that our earlier position. To us, the avoidable controversy over wearing uniform was a mere distraction allegedly meant to derail you from your focus of reforming, restructuring and enhancing revenue functions of the service. We are at home with your stand over the matter because it is better to err on the side of caution and law”, he said.
On his part, the founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam while in agreement with the Comptroller-General of Customs that lack of communication between the service and the associations was the problem however advised that now that the synergy between NAGAFF, ANLCA and the Service was being fostered, there was need for massive enlightenment, education for the people to know as according to him, some people won’t understand what one was talking about when one set out to reform the ports.
He added,” You may not be getting the right information and I am telling you today that you have opened a door of success. What I want us to do, we will find time and sit down and talk. NAGAFF is not used to talking in the open like this, we will come, we will sit with you eyeball to eyeball, we will tell you what it is and then from there you generate your policy. Now what am I saying? One person you have control over is your officers, once you get the officers to do the needful, you have gotten every other thing right. Therefore, the task is enormous but it is achievable.
“Now that you have come, we are going to work with you, leave your lines open, if you leave your lines open, things will happen and you will see that your mandate will be very effective”.
Photo: (L-R) Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (2nd left), Acting National President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche, founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam and Chairman Board of Trustees NAGAFF, Mr. Chidiebere Enelamah during the official visit of Comptroller-General of Customs to NAGAFF headquarters in Lagos on Monday.
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