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MARTIME: Ogbuji, Taiwo, Uche Commend Customs On Stakeholders Briefing

 Stakeholders in the Maritime Industry were recently hosted in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, capital at the instance of Nigeria Customs Service, Area 1 and II commands, Rivers State. The stakeholders were briefed on some developments in the Maritime Industry by a British consultant and Special Adviser to the comptroller General of Customs, Mr. Douglas Tweddle. In his presentation, Mr. Douglas enumerated some salient issues, as it relates to the activities of the Nigeria Customs that the comptroller General of Customs, Mr. A. Inde is trying to make things work better for officials. He stressed the need for government to acknowledge lacks that of manpower or competence to take over the job of the Inspection Agents, hence the need to train and retrain their staff for effectiveness would have been expedised the Customs. Douglas stated further that the idea of some persons advising the President on whether to grant waiver or not on importation without the consent of the Customs was not the best practice for growth. Douglas maintained that people are sacked and sent to prison for corruption in Britain, urging the Customs Agents to form a body that will be able to say no to certain things or refuse to pay on certain things saying that it will help to change certain situations in the Customs service. The Special Adviser to the CG, also spoke on the need to improve more on the Customs salaries as promised by the Comptroller, believing that a fair deal for the customs will add value to their services. Mr. Douglas stated that Nigeria can only take its rightful place in the world, only when things are done the right way and in order to meet up with the vision 2020, since they said have all the ingredients to make it work. In an interaction with journalists, Mr. Innocent Ogbuji, the Commercial Manager, West Africa Container Terminal WACT, sought to know whether the contract that was signed between the Customs in Abuja and other parts of the country are different from that of Port Harcourt. He wondered why web-fountain shut down their server at 6pm-7am on a daily basis and goes off line completely on Saturdays. Ogbuji pointed that the idea of providing 24 hours 7days a week services by the Nigeria Customs service have been defeated. He stressed that a customer who does not perfect his business before 6pm daily will not exit the port, as every business is crippled, once the server is off line. Ogbuji described the stakeholders meeting as a welcome development. In the same vein, Mr. Taiwo Mustapha, a Freight Forwarder harps on professionalism as pointed out by Mr. Douglas in his presentation, stating that the Customs and Agents cannot get it right if they don’t see professionalism as key to their jobs, keep the issue of money apart, but to know their jobs first. Taiwo was hopeful that the recommendations at the meting will be properly communicated to the CG of Customs, adding that if the comptroller, Abdulahi D. Inde was not sure of what he was doing, that he wouldn’t have contracted Mr. Douglas Tweddle all the way from United Kingdom. He was optimistic that the out come of the briefing will benefit all. Mustapha lauded the idea behind the Single Window, but bothered on implementation. He frowned at the circumstances that surround Risk Assessment Report (RAR), saying that RAR and all the rest have been there for a very long time. He disclosed that when the duty was not high, that they were not making noise about it, but now that the duty is high, everybody is complaining. Taiwo said that his worry is not on how much that is been paid to government, but on how the monies are being used to better the lots of the people, expressing that the more monies are been paid to government, the more the people are dehumanized. Mr. Uche Eluagu, the Public Relation Officer (PRO) of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), commended the Customs for the opportunity to air their views, and used the medium to call on government to consider a certain percentage of money to their association, since they are the revenue generators to customs. Some of the top Customs officers at the briefing include Mohammed Mogaji, CAC Area II Onne, Dr. Agbeje D.O, Assistant Comptroller General, Zone C Command and Comptroller Dan Garuba C CAC Area 1, among others. ### Blaise Elumezie

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