Our problem is FAAN not Customs- Agubuzo
In view of recent developments at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport regarding cargo clearance, Chairman, Murtala Muhammed International Airport Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA),Dada Agubuzo says that the problem encountered by his members is nothing more than the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria’s (FAAN) refusal to build them a cargo village. He spoke with Ships & Ports’ Uju Ozoeze.
Customs agents operating at MMIA chapter has recently drawn the attention of the Zone A Federal Operations Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service, why?
Well, we only had the presence of customs FOU men in our chapter and they revealed to us that they want the system changed and thank God agents at the airport have been complying with the set out rules. In revenue generation at the airport I think we are the best now, the compliance of agents in airport should be over 100 percent.
Does this mean that earlier before now, agents at MMIA had a knack of not complying with customs rules?
No, no, no! We’ve been working with the set out rules but we should bear in mind that customs was given a huge target to meet up and in order to this customs insisted on total compliance and that we have followed. Now we’ve been complying and goods have been duly processed, released and delivery taken.
Some of your members find faults with your administration saying that you are high-handed and unapproachable, what do you have to say about this?
Well, people have their different opinion and I am not the first leader people tend to say so many unfavourable things about but the truth is, as far as I am concerned, with my executives, we are the best thing that could happen to airport chapter. Because this is the first time a government that has open door policy is being run. The fact remains that this is our election year and one should not undermine the power of the opposition that will be building up rumours and doing all sort of things to take power by force. My advice to them is they should wait. Let us be judged by our own activities based on our achievements, we have achieved so much. Our own approach brought sanity to airport; it is no longer all commerce affairs. If you don’t know how to process your documents, if you are not a professional clearing agent then you have no business to come to airport so we are tending to professionalism and that change is what the oppositions who felt things should be done the way they’ve been doing it are building up all sort of bad blood. Well, it’s allowed hence we are in a democratic rule.
What really is the relationship between your members and MMIA chapter’s customs command?
We took over in 2009 precisely December 15th and before then it’s been as if we don’t have professional agents. But now, by the way and approach we’ve been giving to issues, for instance the recent FOU siege at the airport, if it were before there would have been violence and protest but the truth is that we took our time to orientate our people. The truth is, basically the education level and standard of some of the clearing agents are very low but with the programmes of training and retraining we’ve been organising it’s been helping out. That’s why even with the presence of the customs men and so on, everybody kept calm and understood what customs are saying, that we must be on the same page with them to generate revenue hence we followed suit.
So you are saying that all is relatively calm at MMIA?
Yes, things are moving on fine, and the situation is relatively calm at the airport. Airport is at peace. There is no time we’ve not been at peace, but the truth is no man operates freely where you have other men checking you with guns and so on that it looks as if we are in a war situation. That was why it looked as if there were problems but there was not. Basically, our problem is not with the customs, our problem is with the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) who refused to build a cargo village for the agents. This is the only airport I have been to that doesn’t have cargo village. What we are demanding for is that the authority should be us a cargo village so that it doesn’t look as if we are a crowd. The secretariat we had was demolished by FAAN since 2005 and up till now agents have no place to be. It’s a pity because we generate so much for the government. In fact for FAAN, am beating my chest to tell you that we generate over one billion naira in a year. Therefore we demand that FAAN should put facilities on the ground for us! How can we be there without toilets or even a place to put our waste? FAAN should as a matter of urgency think about developing cargo village hence they are working on the airport they should also work on a cargo village for us.
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