… Says Customs equally complicit
A chieftain of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Fred Ajuzie has blamed the impending takeover of the freight forwarders’ job by foreigners on activities of Nigerians who knowingly or unknowingly aid them to make inroads into the profession which is supposed to be the exclusive right of Nigerians.
Ajuzie who made this assertion in a chat with newsmen in Lagos recently said that Nigerians were the ones who register the companies as front for the foreigners who would now step in immediately the incorporation process was over.
“For you to get a customs license, you must have your company incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Who is the one following up the registration process with the CAC? Who is the MD of the proposed company? Who are the Directors? If you care to find out, you will discover that the whole Directors on the list are Nigerians before the company will scale through registration at the CAC to become a company only for a white man to appear thereafter to become the Chief Operating Officer of the company. They can enlist Nigerians as the Directors but no share will be allotted to them.”
Ajuzie who is a former Chairman of NAGAFF, Apapa chapter observed that when he was a Chairman, they were at the forefront of not allowing Indians, Chinese and Lebanese to get into customs zones adding that because Nigerians were so naïve, they would be ready offer all manner of assistance to the foreigners to enable them have access into the customs zone to carry out jobs meant for licensed customs agents who he said were supposed to be Nigerians.
He said, “I remember vividly that there was a time I had something to do with the PCA, when I entered PCA, I found out that it was a white man that was there and they asked me to wait, as a Chairman, that Oga is busy. I now used my power as Chairman to say even if he busy let me reach him. On getting to that place, it was a white man that was there, I drove him away and I told the officer, you kept me, a whole Chairman waiting because of this white man? It can never happen.
“The (white) man was afraid, I asked the man to vacate that place and I went to the head the PCA, former Comptroller Bash that is now retired, he was the O/C PCA and a DC as at then and I reported the matter. He was so much angry and summoned the AC and asked him if he was not aware that the Chairman was around that he asked him to wait.
“If you go to Cotonou, our next door neighbour here, you will find out that even as a Nigerian, you cannot clear goods there. If you come, you submit your documents to their agents; there are jobs that are meant for their citizens. You don’t even enter their ports, you only submit your documents to the agents there, when they finish, they will bring out your goods. No Nigerian agent can access Benin ports. In Nigeria, such would have applied, I think we have indigenization policy but it doesn’t happen in Nigeria because of the kind of nation we are running and the kind of leaders we have.
“It is about us. Like I said, the way you make your bed, you lie. It should be exclusively reserved for Nigerians but Nigerians will connive with foreigners because of their naivety. You know, one of the things that are killing us is that people don’t know their rights even when they know their rights, they cannot demand for it.”
He continued, “Sometimes, in the port there, I see Indians and I will say, come my friend, if it is in your country, will you allow black man to get to this point? Who even brought you to the port? But you know, even, the customs are guilty of this development. Why do you ask these white men to come in person? Because you want to get the money. Why not discuss with the person they have already fronted?
“But one of them that I interview on why he allowed the white man to follow him to the port said that they usually sign an agreement with the white men that when it comes to dealing with the customs, they (Nigerians) don’t discuss with any customs officer, that they (white men) will come themselves. At the end of the day, when you look at the man they are using as front, he looks skeletal and scanty while the white man he is coming to defend looks so robust and at the end of the day, the white man will leave the port in his Pajero jeep leaving the Nigerian front to trek all the way home because you don’t know your right.”
While insisting that everybody was guilty about this, Ajuzie who is the Coordinator, Western Zone, 100% Compliance Team of NAGAFF went on to say that even the customs that allowed them to access customs zone was equally guilty arguing that the authorities were supposed to implement the laws without compromise.
According to him, “If a customs officer says my friend, why are you here? You are not supposed to be here. Where is your representative? Do you think the man will go there again? Look at the Customs Licensed Agents Act and their CEMA, these things are there, the man you issued a licensed to which you have come to examine his company before you issue him license is a black man but you are seeing a white man and you don’t want to say anything. In fact, you now prefer to do business with the white man than to see the black man. So, everybody is guilty here.”
When reminded that the foreign shipping lines operating in Nigeria like Maersk Line and MSC now operate a licensed customs agency, he said, “Who is Maersk Line? Who is APMT? Who are their owners? Are they not Nigerians? You people have forgotten that Maersk Line and APMT are sister companies with Ernest Shonekan and other prominent Nigerians owning large chunks of shares therein. They are multinational but people brought them in. There are Nigerians that are backing them up.”
Photo: Dr. Fred Ajuzie, former Chairman, NAGAFF, Apapa chapter.
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