Paul Ogbokiri, the President of AMJON.
Story by Dili Utomi.
A conference organised by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) took place at the main hall of the Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja on Friday with the presentation of papers, opinions, suggestions and engaging questions by the various agencies of government, private bodies and individuals who used the occassion to air their views on the very pertinent issue that surrounds the efficient functioning of all Nigerian Ports. The reality of the time suggests that countries like Nigeria should move away from the dependency on oil for most of her revenue and invest in other sectors of the economy especially with fact that the maritime sector has the potentials to employ much more people and generate even larger amount of revenue than was hitherto imagined.
Dr. Kayode Farinto, ANLCA Vice President.
In an opening address to participants on the conference titled “Towards a Seamless Port Operation in Nigeria” the President of AMJON, Paul Ogbokiri stated that “The Nigerian maritime industry which hitherto was held down by many setbacks to the extent that it has completely failed to reach its potentials, is on the march to reach its potentials as vast media reports quoting the International Maritime Bureau indicate that piratical attacks dropped by 77 per cent in the first nine months of 2021 in the Nigerian waters and the Gulf Guinea which in recent years became the epicenter of piracy and sea robbery”. He indicated that “To this end we are urging the Federal Government to ensure that the Nigerian ports access roads, particularly the about 10 kilometers Oshodi-Apapa expressway which has been undergoing construction for more than two years now is completed as experts have said that the completion of construction work on the road will reduce the Apapa gridlock by 40 per cent”.
Com. Adewale Adeyanju, MWUN president-general.
In the presentation of the chairman of the day, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, the president of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), the vice president of the association Dr. Kayode Colin Farinto speaking from the point of view of a Licensed Customs Broker said that “Seamless port operation in Nigeria is quite imperative, as the maritime industry is the second largest revenue generating sector for the Federal Government, after oil. For example, billions of naira realised daily for government by Customs come mainly from import/excise duties on consignments handled by Customs Brokers. Available statistics reveal that the Customs generated N1.5 trillion in 2020 fiscal year and N1.3 trillion in 2019. As such, the Customs Brokers through payment of import duties contributed significantly to the whopping sums generated by NCS”.
Paul Ogbokiri AMJON president, Nkiru Nwala and Theophilus Duniya (NCS) at the event.
He listed the roles played be the Customs Brokers and also listed the factors Militating Against Seamless Port Operations with comparable examples. He said that ” The advanced countries like U S, China, France, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Singapore etc, practise seamless port operations; and with large capacity utilisation, but that that is not the case in Nigeria. For instance, the port in UK facilitates about 95 percent of the country’s trade. This high level of capacity utilisation is not obtainable in Nigeria at present. Apart from low capacity, another factor working against seamless port operations in Nigeria is the human interface causing unnecessary bottlenecks. Port operations in other countries are digitalised, such that the human elements are totally eliminated. In such countries, Customs Brokers carry out their transactions from the comfort of their offices because the system is highly automated and movement of people is restricted within the port ambience” He opined that the way forward should be that “Government should provide scanners and modern facilities to fast track cargo examination and seamless port operations.
A cross section of participants at the event.
Activities of government agencies at the seaport should be streamlined, to reduce the number of agencies performing similar functions within the same port.
Government and traffic managers should address lingering traffic gridlock at port access roads.
Government should tackle the issue of poor road network within the port vicinity.
Government should provide functional railway system for immediate evacuation of containers out of the ports.
Law enforcement agents should curb criminal activities of hoodlums within the port corridors.
More participants at the event.
Issues of corruption and misappropriation of public funds in the system must be checked”. Dr. Farinto also made his own personal remarks as he said that IMO uses a criteria to measure the level of efficiency around the Ports called the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) which unfortunately ranks Nigeria very low.
The former president of the association, Ismaila Aniemu in his remark said that the country has been focusing too much on oil as means of revenue, but that the world is gravitating away from oil, he said that the revenue from the maritime sector can wholly sustain the nation for the next one thousand years and beyond “If Jesus does not come”. He said that this can be possible if we all do the right thing, the Customs should not have a multiplicity of units doing the same thing, the government should not be afraid of technology and should endeavour to automate the operations. He added that other smaller West African countries seem to be ahead of us in terms of automation in operation.
Members of the high table.
In his presentation on behalf of the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Mr. Ubong Essien said that the International Maritime Organisation has come out openly to say that there is an all time decline in piracy and all other criminalities in our seas within this year and that this is a testament to the effort of NIMASA to make our seas safer for better operations.
In his presentation, the President-General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju commended the efforts of AMJON in organising the event and urged all Maritime Journalists to unify for better welfare as he pledged more support for the association.
A cross section of participants at the event.
The representative of the Customs CG, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.), CS Nkiru Nwala noted that the “NCS has been on a Journey to Modernisation which has been consistently progressive. Dating from the days of ASYCUDA, ASYCUDA ++, NICIS 1\|| and now the e- Customs. The big picture is for NCS to enter the regime of Paperless Clearance Operations with end to end Automation without person to person contacts.
The main features of the e- Customs when fully implemented includes but not limited to the deployment of e- Customs Production Apications including e- Clearance, e- Port System, Risk Control Centre(RCC), logistics Management System( LMS), Electric Cargo Tracking System( ECTS), Intelligent Gate( I- gate) and Mobile Enforcement ( ME).
A representative of Hon. Mufutau Egberongbe who represents the Apapa federal constituency at the federal house of Assembly presented his paper. Mike Egbeyalo who represented the law maker asked the question, what are we doing to have seamles operations at the Ports? he answered the question by saying that the law maker has moved a motion in the house of representatives that says that funds should be properly allocated for the management of the Ports and that he has also moved a motion for the provision of electronic tracking system for trucks so that there will not be traffic gridlock around the ports anymore.
The Customs Area Controller of the Zone A Command of the Federal Operations Unit, Ejibunu Hussein was represented by the Public Relations Officer of the Command, Duniya TP who gave a glowing tribute to the organisers of the conference as states that his principal is doing all humanly possible things to contribute in bringing about seamles operations around the Ports as attested to by the various actions that he has recently taken.
The Managing director of the National Inland Waterways Agency was represented by Engineer (Mrs) Sarat Braimoh who stressed that as a regulator, the Agency is ensuring that barges are of standard and that their operations are also of standard and that efforts at encouraging self propelled barges to be used for the conveying of cargoes have also been intensified.
The association also used the occassion to launch a bi-monthly magazine from its stable called the AMJON Express as the chairman of the occassion launched the magazine with the sum of One Million Naira from his Association, ANLCA. Com. Adewale Adeyanju of MWUN launched the magazine for his union with the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Naira and additional Two Hundred Thousand Naira as his personal donation. Dr. Kayode Colin Farinto launched the magazine with the sum of One Hundred Thousand Naira as other donations poured in. The occasion was also used to award some deserving persons within the Maritime sector.
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