The Nigerian Shippers Council’s Director, Consumer Services, Chief Cajetan
Agu on Tuesday stressed the importance of trade facilitation to a
developing country like Nigeria, highlighting that the country may remain
for long at the rung of developmental ladder even in Africa, until it
seriously pursues both trade facilitation and the ease of doing business
Chief Agu stated this at the Golden Tulip Hotel PortHarcourt today during a
Joint Seminar on ‘Ethics and Integrity in Shipping Trade’ organised by the
Nigerian Shippers Council and the Standard Organizations of Nigeria (SON),
emphasizing the urgent need for Government to invest in technology and
human capacity development, if the nation would timely take its pride of
place in the African continent.
He specifically noted that Africa still has the potential to grow, whereas
the European countries have presently peaked, and advised that Government
agencies must assist the private sector to operate, develop and fuel youths
development, employment and national growth.
He lamented the current situation in the country, noting that on a fact
finding mission few months back, he counted 27 Check Points, between Seme
Border and Badagry, whereas only two existed on the other side, from Seme
into Benin Republic.
He maintained that Nigeria must pursue policies that favours healthy
competitions, adding that it is either we are ready to compete and survive;
or refuse to compete and perish.
He pleaded on the Nigerian authorities to pay closer attention to the
present sad condition of the Ports’ Access Roads; stating that a situation
where an importer queues for two weeks before his goods would leave the
ports already leaves the importer marginalized and incapable of adequately
competing with another importer who takes his cargo within three days.
Time is money, delay kills revenue.So, the ease of doing business cannot
work in the present circumstance, Agu stated, noting that the Asian
economies are today booming, because once they identify the global best
practice, they try to go for policies which enable them to go beyond it, he
explained, positing that whereas technology, particularly the ICT is
important, Nigeria so far, is not adequately investing in technology.
Chief Agu frowned on the notion of inter- agencies squabbles; adding that
rather than fight amongst themselves, they should go for joint cargo
examinations at the same time and end the current waylaying of already
cleared cargoes on the highways.
There is no point in agencies fighting to examine a container or stopping a
container that has been examined and cleared by one agency, he indicated,
and again stressed that adequate investment in equipment would enable the
country boost productivity, and Government revenue.
When we carry out more trade, we make more revenue and more revenue
encourages savings, which also boost investment, he indicated further,
adding that a road that leads to the ultimate reduction of poverty will
rapidly improve employment situation in the country.
In the meantime, the Standard Organizations of Nigerian (SON), has warned
that while it would consistently prioritise trade facilitation, it would
nonetheless, vigorously block any attempt by criminally minded Nigerians to
import fake and substandard goods in Nigeria.
The SON Director, Inspectorate and Compliance Directorate, Engr. Obiora
Manafa stated this at the Ethics Seminar today.
The SON is truly interested in trade facilitation, but this will not be at
the expense of Enforcing Standard, Manafa stressing that the common sense
had shown that the soaring incidences of building collapse for instance,
was largely because either sub standard materials were used or because
quacks were engaged to handle strayed projects.
He grieved that residential buildings were increasingly being converted for
commercial purposes and described as unacceptable, the increasing waves
fire as a result of the installation of fake cables; food that kills and
substandard materials that later create problem.
He warned that the SON would continue to vigorously insist on the
importation of standard goods in the over all safety and well being of
Stakeholders however insisted that while they support the enabling powers
of the SON to enforce standard and prevent foreigners turning Nigeria into
a dumping ground, the SON should slash its present charges and collection,
because it was already killing business, aside from unduly creating