The Founder, National Association Of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam in this interview speaks with Blackface Reporters, Victoria Hanson and Adeyemi Aresanyan On Maritime Issues and The Position Of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). Excerpts.
You Are The National Chairman Of New Nigeria Peoples Party And The Party Is Also One Of The Leading Political Parties in the country, What Should Nigeria Be Expecting From your Party come 2019?
Well, just like any other political party, you really want to be in government and all that, that is the essence of all parties so we are there doing our best, for us is not so easy. We are trying our best, you know for us is not so easy, political parties that are yet to become relevant in terms of elected officers and all that am sure you will know that patronage has a lot to do. We also know that the country is into recession so is becoming more difficult here and there.
Presently There is the plan to register A Mega Party, Will NNPP Also Be Part Of Mega Party?
NNPP is a standing political party, as old as 1998, or there about, we are not a new political party, we are quite very old and we have been trying our best. We are not just coming up. Anybody can go ahead and come about mega party if you wish to. Just like whenAPC merged, is still part of what I’m telling you, matters that has to do with logistics and all that? But then we are focus, we are moving gradually, we will get there and that is the essence of multi-party system in Nigeria, creating opportunities to Nigerians who actually, you know, maybe they had not stolen money in government and all that, but then we still have a lot to offer, and so we create that opportunity for them to show their popularity. Well part of the things on a very serious note that has to do with multi-party system as institutionalized in the constitution part , the carvers of the constitution have something in mind, it Is a platform for every persons who thought he has something to offer to have a space with the human element off course you will agree with me, just like PDP then, they told us they will rule us for 60 years ,to that extent, they blogged almost all the entries to the extent of deleting all political parties. if you leave them, they will be left with only two political parties. They can even go ahead and make legislation in that aspect but while you plan, God is also looking at you so now PDP is by the way, is now an opposing party. We haveAPC, so my advocacy is that people should allow things to flow on its own and allow God to intervene to bring about a better Nigeria.
Sir How Do You See This Anti-Corruption Fight In Nigeria, Do You Think It Is Genuine?
Sometimes one could say that it is better to take a wrong decision than not taking it at all. so if that is the case, the present administration, their manifesto is very clear on matters of anti – corruption per say, which in their own mind they are doing their best but if you ask me, recovering of money and all that , recovering of money and all that, are matters that has to do with offences that have been committed and so there are legislative instrument that takes care of such things, that is for criminality. So that is from one part, recovering money to me is not fighting corruption, is offence that had been committed and there are laws on that regard so is as good as taking the people through proper investigation. but to fight corruption is to look at the remote cause of all those issues in our country, go ahead and block them that is the effective way of fighting corruption and I give you example, I am in the port system for instance one major problem in the port has to do with compliance, people are not complying to regulations and if they are not compliance to regulations you begin to see that for you to fight corruption, you have to make people to be compliance and that means you have to en force regulation for instance a lot of people talked about customs being corrupt speaking from a very good point of observations, the customs operation zone is in two segments, traders zone and custom zone. at the traders zone is where you have all the stakeholders, freight forwarders , importers, exporters. Your duty is to fall in- line with the import and exports regulations and that means you must make general declarations open. if you have not done that you are initiating corrupt behaviour, do you understand? Before you go to custom zone, so custom as far as I am concerned, yes we can still fault them because they are agents of the government where they mandate to protect the interest of the government and therefore none of them has the reason to connive with the trading public who wants to maximise profit and custom apart, that is to say that those who operate from outside will be calling on customs but again you can also see section 12 of the custom law says that the port is custom port and we always look at customs but there are major issues in the chain of actions, the freight forwarders itself, the importers, exporters, the shipping company, terminal operators, the regulatory agencies of the government, like NAFDAC, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON),namely but no one is calling them but this is where corruption is lying so for me for us to address corruption in the ports I expect that we should have what is called maritime summit, Mr president should organise that as much as possible all the stakeholders form maritime agencies and arrange for summit, people will say their mind and stakeholders and then act that before the government and we will get positive response out of there
What Is Your View Towards The Restriction Of Importation Of Vehicles Through Land Boarder and How Will This Act Help In Boosting The Growth Of The Economy In Nigeria?
Well people have always been using wrong words, banning of vehicles the importation of vehicles have not been ban, the right word there is restrictions because the importation of vehicles have not been ban in Nigeria, the sea port is there for you to bring your goods and then I will just retrospect, take you back to compliance, when you are not compliance it becomes a problem and so at the border line the none compliance level seems to be very high, and has strengthen revenue to the government adding to the fact that the plight of boko haram has shown that our brothers are and so for us to get it right since after several warnings and nobody wants to listen is not that the government is not aware that the boarders entry point that are being approved by the government . But here we are, some other ridicule approach has to be followed and now the government is beginning to question that effect. What I think one should do, if I were in government, if they will listen, the two areas, one we have indeed advised government before this time that the first law of God is choice, allow people to make choice, what are the choice I’m talking about, choice of buying a new car or buying a fairly used car and if that is the case we need to create a platform, what is the platform, the older a vehicle is, the higher rate of duty, the newer a car is, the lower rate of duty you have created opportunity for people to make choice, in that making that choice, government is balancing the situation in terms of giving revenue to the government, the newer vehicles are quite expensive, but the rate to be paid will be lower, the lower vehicles are depreciated, government will tend to discourage it instead of banning it completely, again government will be serving foreign exchange because very old cars is subject to repairs all the time and we don’t have the parts here we still have to bring them we have to use forex to do that as oppose to brand new vehicles, you may use it for one to three years before you can go into major repairs other than just servicing it and all that so these are issues that we need to look at, then the effect of this restrictions now again can be resolved for those who are very critical and knowledgeable on matters that has to do with shipments there is what we call time of importation in custom procedure AS at the time the Cargo is loaded on board the vessel so government has given this directives to infusion on the effect of vehicles that may come in late as to the date line then they will go to the time of importation as it contains in the custom law, there are sections that has to do with that, if you look at the contract carriage documents and then give them incentives and that incentives would have to be categorize into Nigeria on transit, that means Nigeria is the final destination of that cargo but those whose destination is cotonou has nothing to do with Nigeria because cotonou as a state is a sovereignty . For those who are feeling that smuggling will be so much and all that and nobody threaten to know government has made a directives you decide to go into smuggling go ahead and smuggle and you will face the consequences, there is no doubt about that because we are not in banana republic, we have to build the society is to follow rules of engagement, the law is there, you must understand, it is simple as ABC and people should understand this, now some other people are talking about loss of jobs, I can’t understand what that meant, who is going to lose the job, is it we the freight forwarders as I am talking to you, the custom license unified if you have to look at custom license regulations, any customs license company as the case maybe or freight forwarder can operate in any part of the country so nobody that will lose job so where are they coming from, rather this will create opportunity for job incentives in Nigeria, one the investors like the terminal operators and the roll on roll off companies like the PTML, ports and terminal companies, the roll off like the SIFAX and we need to encourage them, now the customs has also gone far now through the federal government directives to keep possible for auto terminals to be open almost where ever you can among the auto dealers wherein the goods will come, the destination is defined, Aba, Onitsha or Kano, custom has said YOU are not going to pay custom duty, goods will move from that place to the final destinations provided it is delicate in the bill already for the contact of carriage ,now if this thing happens within the various state of the federation that has created jobs you can never imagine because some other small groups will get up, the mechanic will be alive around there, people who do one business to another, because ports come with development so that would have created a lot of jobs.
How Is The Relationship Between NAGAFF And Custom Agency?
It’s unfortunate the leadership in custom seems to be elusive, and modern day partnership is about public and private sector, they seem to be going solo which is not the best. They should be carrying NAGAFF and other stakeholders along because when you leave the stakeholders out of the game plan, you won’t really achieve the best. A good example is the humility one could see in the leadership of Nigeria port Authority. Customs officers need to visit the Leadership of NAGAFF and other agency to know and understand their challenges and measure to follow in order to reduce improve the relationship, for instance objectives of Port control include, Friendliness, competitiveness, reducing cost of doing business and of course improving on infrastructure. So it’s been cordial but I think the Comptroller General should move out of his office and visit the stakeholders to know how they are faring, even in banking, they have a slogan known as KYC ( know your customer).
Do You Think The Country Will Recover From Recession This Year 2017?
Nigeria cannot be an exception; various countries like USA, Brazil, China, Great Britain have all gone through recession in history. What is important is determination, to make sacrifices, and to be determined to see the system working, Nigeria definitely is a great country. The hope is quite very high that things will Improve and of course things are getting better if you are following the event, Trade and commerce is very important for the nation’s GDP to grow. And also looking at matters that has to do with work force and Education, so Nigeria is quite great, I don’t believe there’s any course for alarm. What is needed is to support government in what they are doing. If you watch what is currently happening in America, Politics is over and Trump has started to establish his own policy, and they are looking at a new America, that’s the spirit Nigerians should emulate.