As far as I am concerned, I have not seen any impact so far. Everything is still as going as usual. I read in the newspaper recently about the flying of containers from Tin-can and I wondered if that is still happening that some containers goes out at night without paying their duties. I have not seen the impact of the ‘Iron man’ there; what he has done. Probably, I think we should go back to what our former president intended to do with Customs, until when that is revisited then the essence of Customs is not impactful in the industry. So many postulations have been put forward by various people in the industry about how to reorganise Customs but nothing has been done. It is like some powers that be wants Customs to remain as it is, a breeding ground for people to step up their personal life at the detriment of Nigeria
I think he is working, he seems a bit fearless stepping on toes but you have to step on toes really if you want to get something done but generally he has met a bad situation because importation has dropped, Customs revenue has dropped, he is facing a very uphill task but a no-nonsense approach is what we see. There is a bit of sanity in that area. Some of the things he does are a bit bizarre to me to be honest with you but let me be objective, he seems to be working.
To the best of my knowledge, I think he has done his best. Though his best may not be the best for the stakeholders but he has done something wonderful. He is beginning to have total grip on the organisation. Before he came into the board of affairs, the corruption level with Customs has increased greatly. With his coming into office and because of his pedigree, there have been some adjustments from the officers and so far the corruption level has gone down. The dedication to job of officers has improved tremendously and with these two things, there will be increase in trade facilitation and that is what is going on now. If not of recent that the floating of exchange rate that created hiccups in the operation at the ports and we know the forex issue is not the handwork of Customs, rather the Ministry of Finance through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). So you can’t blame Customs.
As far as we are concerned as Licensed Customs agents, this scrapping of DTI and issuance of DTI to every license owner will curb corruption at the ports and as well facilitate trade. These are the things we have been fighting for over the years and since when he resumed office and gave the approval of private DTI to a licensed Custom owner,I consider it the greatest achievement he has made so far and we cherish it.
In my opinion, he has not done enough and I have not seen any restructuring that he has done to Customs. It is now worse than the way he met them. He has not done anything that shows that he is the man of restructuring and reform but we still believe that the best is yet to come. Corruption is thriving at our ports and there are still some Custom officers that have remained in a particular position for more than ten years and he has not done anything about that even though he initially promised to see to that.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.