FAILING TO STRENGTHEN TRADE RESULTS IN GREATER LOSSES TO THE COUNTRY — HON.TONY IJU NWABUNIKE
*** Cautions Customs on deploying all efforts into revenue pursuit
***Seeks inclusion of Maritime Practitioners in Federal Government Committees.
By Mcanthony Onuoha
The National President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents- ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, has said that pursuing bigger revenue and failing to strengthen trade would result in greater losses to the country.
Hon. Nwabunike,in his 2022 maiden press briefing at ANLCA Secretariat on Friday, January 21,2022, while speaking on the N4.1tr 2022 revenue target for Nigeria Customs Service, said that the outrageous targets would undermine the productivity of the overall economy. expressing his concern, Nwabunike cautioned that the high target would place the NCS under pressure of high revenue collection and undermine the trade facilitation role the service should render.
Continuing, the National President of ANLCA said, “totality of Customs efforts deployed into revenue pursuit reduces the service productivity in many ways. We want to also advise the Federal Government to be careful before signing into law the $3.1b Customs modernization project which we heard, will run for 20 years. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari and the Finance Minister to avoid assenting to the deal.”
“Nigeria is already in serious debt and Customs being a strategic non oil revenue earner for government should not be tied to another long term repayments for two decades. On this, we call on the National Assembly to take very closer look at the details and ensure the Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigeria Customs Service and all parties involved observe due diligence that won’t entrap the country into another long debt repayment fo 20years and maybe, for lesser value.”
Hon Nwabunike went further to commend the Federal Government for it’s recent inauguration of an expanded partnership committee on blue economy chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, saying it was a step in the right direction.
” For us, this shows more commitment by the Buhari administration to maritime matters. We urge that the committee goes beyond conference room talk and paper work to addressing real challenges militating against full harvesting of our marine environment benefits in sustainable manner.”
He went ahead to lobby for the inclusion of Maritime Practitioners and investors in Federal Government Committees.
According to the National President of ANLCA, “in achieving good corporate governance and rule based procedures for all government activities in the business environment, we advise that government agencies restrict themselves to the tenets of their schedule and rules of engagement at all times”.
In his projection for 2022, Hon.Nwabunike said that as his administration is gradually rounding off its activities having barely 16 months, that he would focus on improving professionalism as well as increasing the capacity of Nigerian customs brokers for local and international trade under the aegis of African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA) and matching human capacity with technology for better results, adding that his administration is encouraging members to embrace ICT, go paperless, increase and sustain their compliance levels and seek to achieve more with lesser human contacts in the face of covid-19 pandemic that has mutated over time with Omicron and other variants.
On rumor being peddled about tenure elongation, Hon.Nwabunike dismissed the rumor saying there is no provision for that in ANLCA. He disclosed that a single tenure of five years was adopted at a duly constituted Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Owerri, the Imo State capital.In his words, “this single tenure of five years starts with my administration. Personally, l must say that it disenfranchised me from having a second term but l am abiding by it because that is the new rule. Accepting the bitter pill is also personal sacrifice because we must separate leadership from selfishness. It is height of mischief for persons who have been expelled or suspended to be interpreting an outdated constitution to the public with the aim of causing confusion or seeking relevance in the media. For clarity purpose, our adminstration will elapse in April 2023.”
“For those expelled and suspended persons, we are open to reconsidering our decision on them if we see genuine remorse and repentance by granting them a sort of amnesty and readmitting them.We can only do this if we see true change in behaviours and resolve on their part to obey constituted authority of the association. You may recall that in the past, they sponsored fake stories about us, orchestrated physical attacks at us and attempted to illegally invade this national Secretariat. All these attempts failed by the grace of God. I hereby call them to true change of heart and character for them to deploy their energies to productive usage and enjoy peace of mind”, he advised.