By DAPO OLAWUNI
Following The Federal Executive Council (FEC) concessioning of the modernisation of the Nigeria Customs Service to a foreign firm; Messers E-Customs HC Project Limited at an approved sum of $3.1billion for a period of 20-years, stakeholders have predicted that the move would lead to massive job loss in the customs service.
With the impending modernization, stakeholders feared that most of the customs processes would now be handled electronically, hence there would not be any need for employment of more hands in the customs service.
Speaking exclusively with DAILY TREND NEWS on Tuesday, President of Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) Rev Jonathan Nicole said Nigeria is gradually getting captured by its Chinese allies, adding that the beneficiary companies might not give Nigeria Customs the full automation required.
He argued that the Customs does not need any modernization, rather, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers Council need to be well automated.
The SALS President said “The shortest route to getting allies is through trade, and once you have captured your trade partners, you can control all things, this what is happening between China and Nigeria, this is where Nigeria needs to be careful because when you take essential part of your survival into a third party hands, you dont have a choice than to play the way they want it”
“So, Nigeria Customs would end up losing a lot of staff and the professionalism we have always agitated for, and this would mean we are starting all over again” he warned
According to him, apart from the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Nigeria Customs Service is one of the agencies that is well kitted, and well automated with the best system in the whole of the country.
“For Customs to now say they are concessioning their modernization, I dont really know what they want”
“The only thing Customs is doing that we are not too comfortable with is the incessant queries on cargoes, outside that, if they have Internet fluctuations, you cannot blame them because they too rely on the eternal use of the internet”
“Unfortunately, the news came to us even though we have been hearing speculations that they were going to concession activities of the customs, we were not expecting it so soon, and we dont know what level of automation they are going to be talking about, if anybody needs automation, it would be the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as far we are concerned when it comes to shipping trade”
“Also, now that the Nigerian Shippers Council has become the economic regulator, they also need to be automated, all transactions has to pass through the channel of automation for everybody to see what is happening”
“For us in this country, everything is all about money, at the end of the day, China would give us the shackles and not the real technology, for twenty years, just like we had it in NPA concessioning the port for 20-years and port users are in abject poverty” he lamented
Also speaking with our correspondent, a licensed customs agent, Mr Charles Ubah argued that if the customs processes are fully automated, there would be job losses.
“Secondly, I dont think they have done the right thing by not carrying critical stakeholders including associations in the maritime industry along”
“At any rate, if government believes that this concessioning would increase their revenue generation, they should do it in a way that jobs would not be lost. Whatever would address revenue leakages, we are not against it, but they should do it well so that it doesn’t affect the common man”