Chief Sylvester Ndidi Budu, newly sworn in -ANLCA Apapa chapter Chairman.
Honesty, the panacea for the efficient running of the maritime industry- Sylvester Ndidi Budu.
Story by Dili Utomi
A new lease of life seems to be in the horizon in the activities of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Apapa chapter as an experienced, intelligent and energetic leader has just taken up the mantle of leadership of the chapter. He is in the person of Chief Sylvester Ndidi Budu, the newly elected and sworn in Chairman of the chapter. In an exclusive interview with www.greatalternativenigerianetwork.com.ng, the chairman bears his mind on a number of salient issues that are critical within the industry.
In his words ” I have been in this business for over thirty years and what inspired me to vie for this position are a bit much, one is that a lot of rot has been going on within the industry over a long period of time and people like me want to come in and make positive impact in order to curb the rot in the system “. Chief Budu lamented that thirty years ago, when one collects a job from a client to do, he already knows what it will cost to do the job and what profit he was going to make at the end of the day and people did put in a lot of effort to collect lots of Bills of Lading as the more Bill of Lading collected translated to more money, but that today the story is different as the more Bill of Lading collected means the more problems. “This reason also informs my desire to come and make the positive change, we want to take the industry to another level, involve stakeholders, discuss one on one as the industry has become more professionalized”.
The chairman opined that a lot of sensitization is going to be employed in trying to reach out to members as he also noted that there would be a lot conciliatory gestures and dialogue with agents and agencies. He said that by the nature of its existence, the Nigeria Customs Service is a trade facilitating agency and also a revenue generating arm of the government, but that be that as it may their functions should not be carried out at the detriment of the importers and agents.
Chief Budu opined that a balance can be struck by all the stakeholders noting that the importers, agents and the Customs should all be honest in carrying out their various functions at every turn. The situation where the valuation unit gives the value of the cargo and you make payment thereby getting your goods cleared and you move your cargo out of the terminal only to be stopped by another unit of the Customs with a claim of undervaluation does not help us all in anyway, we should all be honest in our dealings.
On the newly created electronic call up system introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority through the use of the eto application software, Chief Budu says that he is happy with the introduction of the system and added that if it is well handled, it is going to ease up traffic congestion within and around the Ports area. He though noted that “electronic call up in itself is not enough, we have to put the access roads in order, the contractors given the contract to fix the roads should hasten to carry out the jobs as it has taken over three years now to fix the major ports access road”.
On making the ports more efficient, he called on the government to get the right people into the right places to do the right things and at the right time and that if this is done, there will be free flow of activities and a more efficient running of the ports. I really do not think that we have the right people at the right places.
He also called for critical mass of honest people within the system for a better improvement as he stated that ” the importers should be honest with their declaration, the shipping companies should be honest with their charges, the Customs should be honest in their valuation and charges and the agents should be honest with their payments as these will engender efficiency and profitability”.
We seem to hinge everything on making money and this should not be so.
On the issue of movement of cargoes through barges, he lamented that if there is a proper multi modal means of moving cargoes in and out of the ports, we will not be having the various unfortunate circumstances of barge accidents that are occurring now as he admonished the government to do the right thing always.