Harsh policies take Nigeria bound imports to Benin, Togo ports – Uzodinma

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Satisfied with the recent reopening of four of Nigeria’s land borders, Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma has called on the Federal Government to rework all unrealistic fiscal policies that are driving importers of Nigerian-bound goods to the ports of Nigeria’s neighboring countries.

Uzodinma, who was a former chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, also decried the multiplicity of Customs operatives at ports access roads and highways, saying it is an indictment on the Nigeria Customs Service for a consignment at the ports or border stations to be seized by another set of Customs officials along the highways on allegation of one infringement or the other on Customs law.

Governor Uzodinma spoke at the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) which held in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

He also called for a robust synergy between freight agents and Nigeria Customs Service to dissipate the challenges with cargo evacuation from ports and border posts.

According to him, this partnership would also foster the nation’s bid to diversify the economy and boost non-oil revenue with numerous potentials from the maritime sector.

He said: “Cotonou Port is very busy because of some unrealistic fiscal policies in Nigeria. What is the essence of placing the import duty of cars at 35 percent or more, when the country doesn’t produce cars?

Isn’t it only reasonable for the government in Benin, Togo, and other neighboring countries to peg their import duties at five percent to target Nigerian cargoes? “Nigerians don’t smuggle and research has shown that those involved in big-time smuggling in the country aren’t Nigerians. We know that those who do bulk importation of smuggled items are Indians and Lebanese.

They go to Cotonou to clear the cars at five percent duties and explore the avenues of bringing the exotic vehicles via bushes and other unapproved border routes.
Until Nigeria is ready to assemble cars that are affordable and can compete with those imported, we must allow people to bring in imported cars and build non-oil revenue for the country. The government does not really have a choice because of the dwindling non-oil revenue.

The maritime sector must be harnessed as one of the viable alternatives and good fiscal policies would be needed to achieve this.”

He argued that until Nigeria is ready to assemble cars that are affordable and can compete with those imported, the government must allow people to bring in imported cars and build non-oil revenue for the country.

Noting that the job of a licensed Customs agent is also linked to national security, Uzodinma said: “If all security policies and programs are sabotaged by you, it will not work. So, in the spirit of patriotism and national interest, I will urge you to close ranks with all agencies of government in the security sector and the business sector so that we will be able to protect our interest as a nation and unite Nigeria further.”

Meanwhile, ANLCA successfully elected nine members into its Board of Trustees (BoT) at the AGM. They include Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Executive Vice Chairman of SIFAX Group, Chief Ozor Chukwura, Chief Kingsley Offor, Eniola John, and Shamsideen Akanji.

Others are Obi Azodo, Alhaji Isa Aliyu, Timothy Ayokunle, and Chief Igwe Odinaka.

While the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzordima was decorated as Grand Patron of ANLCA, and Chief Henry Njoku with another chieftain of the association were also made patrons of ANLCA respectively.

However, in a bid to ensure efficient contributions of elected officials in the association’s activities, the group’s constitution was reviewed to allow only single tenures for all elected officers.

Mr. Peter Ojo had moved a motion that was later adopted by more than two-thirds of the ANLCA members participating in the AGM.

Similarly, the duration of the tenures for Chapter Executives was moved from three years to four years, while that of National Executives was moved from four years to five years and six years for Board of Trustee (BOT) members, all single tenures, but yet to be ratified.

Two-third of the participants in the AGM also agreed that the five years single tenure of the National Executives takes effect with the current administration and subsequent elections for BOT and Chapter Executives.

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