By Godfrey Bivbere
Unless urgent steps are taken by the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the three Service Providers, the federal government may again extend the contract of the Service Providers by the end of June.
Vanguard investigation revealed that three weeks into the six months extension of the contract to work out modalities for hand over, there has not been any meeting by the concern parties.
Sources close to Ministry told Vanguard that the inability of the parties involved to meet is not unconnected the problem between the Ministry and Service. The source explained said that Service’s attempt to amend the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), aggregating some powers to its Comptroller General, has put a stain on the relationship between the Service and its supervising ministry.
A source in one of the Service Providers told Vanguard that they have not heard anything on what is to be done during the period of extension. The source explained that they are presenting performing the task which they were doing before the extension.
Reacting to the above, a front line freight forwarder and Chief Executive Officer of Shiba Services Ltd, Babatunde Shittu, told Vanguard that he gathered that the extension was as a result of the fact the Customs was not ready.
Shittu who shares the same sum name with the National President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, however, frowned at the way the management of the Service is handling the issue after the extension.
According to him, “the way Customs is going about it is wrong, they are taking it personal.” Shittu pointed out that it is important that they know that whatever is done is for national interest.
He also stressed the need for government to involve other critical stakeholders in the meetings leading to the transfer of the Service Providers function to Customs. by the end of June.
He said this in necessary to ensure that there is no confusion at the end of the day.
Similarly, National President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Eugene Nweke, said he his nor surprised because politicians in power always find a way of protecting their interest by favouring their cronies.
Nweke however stressed the need for Nigerian leaders to realize that every national decision taken affects the ordinary man on the street, adding that there is need for these leaders to put into consideration the ordinary Nigerian when they are making such decisions.