By Godfrey BIVBERE
The World Customs Organisation, WCO, has blamed the Federal Government for the cumbersome clearing procedure in the country, stressing that the above is stretching the capacity of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.
Disclosing this to SWEETCRUDE, National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, said that he recently asked the Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, why cargo clearance procedure is more cumbersome than that of its counterpart aboard, he quoted the WCO to have said “the operations of the custom of this country depends on what the government wants.”
Shittu pointed out that the focus of the Nigerian government for the Customs is revenue generation and that is why target is set for the Service yearly. He noted that, that has resulted in the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, paying more attention to revenue generation instead of trade facilitation.
The ANLCA boss explained that the focus on revenue generation opens an opportunity for the average Customs officer to cut corners for their own benefit, a situation that would not have risen if the focus had been trade facilitation.
According to him, “there was a question we asked the Secretary General of Customs Organization that how come the challenges faced by Nigeria Customs are more cumbersome than that of Customs in other countries?
“He said the operations of the Custom of this country depends on what the Government want. If it is revenue generating Customs and not a trade facilitating Customs, that is what you will get. That is why they give bench mark of how much they must realize in a year. If they don’t realize it, the management has failed, they can throw them away.
Now, has this solved the problem? No,”in trade facilitation, you do not focus on revenue generation first because in revenue generation you have given an average officer the opportunity to either enrich himself or enrich the Government, are you getting my point? When that particular officer sees such an opportunity, nobody tells him the one to do first. The officer will say “I don’t know what will be tomorrow, they might remove me from here, let me help myself now,” the Nigerian in us will now come in. But when things are done in the open, it will be difficult for anybody to take advantage,” he concluded.