As the debate over takeover of licensed customs agency work from Nigerians by foreigners rage on, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has uncovered different strategies employed by the shipping lines and foreign portfolio holders in going about their business.
Speaking in a chat with newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday, the Chairman, NAGAFF, Apapa chapter, Mr. Ndubuisi Uzoegbo disclosed that some of these foreigners in the name of shipping companies were going about registering companies here with the intent to carry on freight forwarding jobs which he said were supposed to be exclusively reserved for Nigerians.
Uzoegbo stated that one would see Indians and Lebanese doing the jobs Nigerians were meant to be doing adding that such development was not right.
According to him, “In as much as Nigerians are in other people’s country doing one thing or the other, the way they (foreigners) are going about it here, they are taking advantage of the shipping companies. Sometimes, they would want to frustrate an ordinary freight forwarder out there just to make sure that they drag the customer to themselves. That is the strategy that they are using which is not good. If it is an open market where everybody will come to compete, you will say whatever you have is what you will give, then, I won’t have issue with that.
“Many times, you go to MSC to release work, they will delay you and cause problem for you in order that they may have access to your customer. At times, they will go as far as calling your customer on phone telling him or her that you don’t know what you are doing. It is a pathetic story; I don’t know how to say it. It is just that I am not happy about it but let us hope that very soon, things will get better and all these issues will be resolved.
“Everybody is free to do business anywhere in the world but the way they are going about it here is what is wrong, using their carriers to intimidate indigenous Nigerians is what I don’t like. So, it is an issue.”
He, however, blamed the government for this ugly development insisting that if there was a policy in place to indigenize the profession, this ugly trend would not be happening.
“We are not serious, our government too does not value indigenous Nigerians, they don’t have value for the masses. That is why this thing is more pronounced here. Outside here, I don’t see it happening. It is irresponsibility on the part of the government because if they are not, I don’t see the reason why they can’t put a stop to this here in Nigeria.
“In Benin here, you don’t have access to their ports, if you don’t have anything that brings you to the port, you don’t go there because the ports are meant for the indigenes of the country. But here, we expose everything, everything here is porous, they will come in here and see the loopholes and then, go and muzzle up whatever they have, even, some will be sponsored by foreign governments most especially the Chinese, they will be sponsored by their governments to come here and do all these things that they are doing while we are here clamouring that things are not good while behind your backyard, so much money is being repatriated back to their countries. It is not as if they are investing these monies they are making here.
“How much are they paying few of our people that they employ? They will employ very few of them and use them like rags. So, these are the areas that I am highly against what they are doing”, he said.
Speaking on the preference given them by operators of the ports especially the operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at various commands, he said, “We respect white skinned people irrespective of where they come from; we value strangers more than we value ourselves. But I believe that in no distant time, things are going to get better. We are on it, it is either we get better or we get worse.”
He further blamed this development on Nigerians whom these foreigners use as fronts to incorporate these companies in Nigeria only to turn around to boot them away when the processes were completed and go on to perpetuate themselves on the job.
His words, “It happens all over the world, you cannot register a company in Nigeria without having indigenous Nigerians on the Board. You must have one or two Nigerians as directors. It is the law, I don’t think anybody can change that but the truth is that knowing what happens after the company is registered is what should be of paramount interest to the labour unions in the country. These are the things that labour is meant to checkmate. It is not a question of using one Abiola to register a company here and after registration; they will throw Abiola out and continue doing what they are doing.”
Photo: Mr. Ndubuisi Uzoegbo, Chairman, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Apapa chapter.
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