There are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari has issued a 90-days ultimatum to the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Transportation to ensure the National Single Window project is achieved at all Nigerian ports within the timeframe.
The single window system is a trade facilitation idea and its implementation enables international traders to submit regulatory documents on a single platform.
The absence of a National Single Window platform at Nigeria’s seaports is reportedly costing the federal government a whopping N1.08trillion in customs revenue annually.
Industry sources confirmed to DAILY TREND last week that President Buhari was worried that smaller countries like Ghana, Togo already have a single window platform while Nigeria, supposedly the giant of Africa does not.
However, the ultimatum of the president is said to be delayed by the none appointment of Ministers by the president.
Our correspondent gathered that two agencies in the maritime sector Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) under the Ministry of Transportation and the Nigeria Customs Service under Ministry of Finance, are already jostling for who would be the implementing agency for the project.
Stakeholders however believed that the Nigeria Customs Service is supposed to be the implementing agency because it is the lead agency in the port while NPA has been reduced to a landlord status.
Speaking with our correspondent last week, the source said “The NPA boss told us that presidency has directed that it should be done under 90 days”
“A committee has been put in place, they have integrated themselves and studied the documents, government agencies , Customs as well as everyone important in cargo clearance were involved”
“The next step is just to kickstart the project. The template is already on ground, they have spoken with people that would bring in their softwares among others”
“But unfortunately, because the Minister has not been appointed, this is the only thing delaying the project.Another challenge is to determine which agency that would administer the project”
The source however advised that for a Single Window project to be successful in Nigeria, it must be linked with the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) scheme and implemented together.
He also said the single window cannot be achieved if the Nigeria Customs Service is still carrying out 100% examination of cargoes without a scanning machine.
He said “The most important thing is that when you have a single window, we should do it with Cargo Tracking Note, it should go holistically, so that cargo manifests would be transmitted directly to the single window, thereby making it difficult for shipping companies to expunge anything from the document”
“This would generate revenue for the government”
“It is a shame that Ghana has a single window and operating it successfully while we are still grappling with our own, Ghana is now the giant of Africa”
“Nigeria does not have a single window, what we have is a trade hub, both are different, what the Customs are operating currently is a trade hub”
“The former Comptroller General of Customs brought these lofty ideas of single window, but they killed it because they don’t like the messenger” he said