Outspoken customs broker and Chairman, Skelas Group of Companies, Prince Olayiwola Shittu may have stirred the hornet’s nest, suggesting that since the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is in the business of fees and rents collection, a body regulating its activities would have served the cause of fair play, accountability and transparency.
He said, “There are lots of unhealthy business politics going on. NPA for example discharges cargo and collect fees, so they are supposed to be regulated commercially. If you’re charging X amount here; is that what they are charging in Cotonou? This scale of reference is important so that we can be competitive, regionally.”
The immediate past National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), who was speaking on the state of the national economy and the maritime industry also said despite the imperative of the establishment of trucks Electronic Call-Up System (ETO) by government, the system is not doing as much as it should already have, because of man made errors.
His submission for an independent body to regulate the financial activities of the NPA may not have come at a better time, following recent and ongoing allegation of improper administration of remittances, suspicious tax waivers, indiscriminate and politically motivated witch hunt of critical investors leading to loss of funds, and lack of capacity to meet budget projections, based on revenue forecast.
Asked whether after his study of the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM) document, the NPPM is workable in terms of its expected national interest, he said:
“It should because some of the SOP indicated that if it is properly followed, it is workable. I will tell you, somebody said part of ourselves will go for examination and immediately after examination, we write our reports and then, it goes through the system, as part of the procedure. But nobody tells us that there are some, after examination it will take you three days to get a report, something delayed it.
“The delay is not factored into their SOP. I want to commend Nigerian Shippers Council, they have been trying, the only snag with the Council is that they don’t have the legislative power to carry out a lot of actions, and it’s deliberate because operators within the industry are catching up on it. Then there are also other agencies in the port issues not helping matters too, over jurisdictional powers…
“This is our area, we have the power.” Even NIMASA with NPA were at logger heads over operations, until they resolved recently. Okay, you handle safety, you technical. Even the commercial end of it, NPA does not want Shippers’ Council to be involved.”
“There are lots of unhealthy business politics going on. NPA for example discharges cargo and collect fees, so they are supposed to be regulated commercially. If you’re charging X amount here; is that what they are charging in Cotonou? This scale of reference is important so that we can be competitive, regionally.
“You set up new bodies; they are supposed to be repealing the previous ones, in other to give the new body enough teeth to do what they have to do. If Shippers’ Council is properly empowered, there will be sanity in the system.”