How Customs Can Be Part of Global Smart Border Concept-Ex-NAGAFF President

Hyacinth Chinweuba

Former President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke has challenged the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), to be part of the global ‘Smart Border’ concept in trade facilitation and security.

Nweke who offered explanations on the Smart Border concept, which according to him is an acronym for “S = Secure, M = Measure, A = Automation, R = Risk Management, T = Technology “ said this has been far from being achieved in the Customs Service.

Delivering a lecture on the topic: “Unbundling The World Customs, International Day Celebration 2019 Theme:” Smart Borders For Seamless Trade, Travel & Transport ” in Port Harcourt, Nweke said this “can be achieved effectively on the premise of 3 P’s integration, which is “People, Partnership & Political Support”.

He noted that the SMART Border concept is technologically driven, hence, the need to deploy an all inclusive and interactive robust soft ware applications in the Customs system.

According to him, this should be with the capacity to “boost information sharing amongst stakeholders, profiling stakeholders in the value chain, raising the bar to mitigate against terrorism and other security threats, securing business interests, storing and generating data on demand, guaranteeing a predictive & competitive business friendly environment, eliminating fraudulent and dangerous practices, etc”.

He explained that for the Nigeria Customs to achieve such laudable objective, it requires the buying-in of the stakeholders on one side and the government on the other side.

He added, “government must encourage the customs by demonstrating political & financial will (political support) towards investing on the SMART Border Concept”.

Conclusively, Nweke charged the Nigeria Customs as follows:

1. That the Service is not too far from integrating the SMART Border Concept, with its efforts at migrating from NICIS II,

2. Observing, that, if the Service uphold to the concept, then, the F.O.U, CG Strike Force & CIU units of the customs has no business intercepting imports cleared from the imports, as this units will be in the comfort of their offices monitoring on line , every cargo transactions and processing, and raise the red bar to the concerned declarant and the officer, by so doing a new consciousness for ” doing it right” will be inculcated to the trading public, thereby increasing compliance level”.

He called on the management to boldly approach the on going quest to take over ownership of scanning operations, and acquire new scanners and installing them across the formations.

For this to happen, the Service must do away with all political manoeuvres inherent, he said.

He equally opined that the time has come for the Service to deploy and bring its political support and partnership to bear, so as to cancel or renegotiate the existing contract with the Messers Webfontane Ltd.

According to him, the uploading or installation of the optic server on the satellite for the use of the Customs operations, was “too narrow and inadequate to provide the needed robustness, speed and efficiency of the Customs Service ICT applications”.

He added, “presently, the incessant system break down, is caused by this narrow tube presently in use, as supplied by the Webfontane”.

He reiterated that without this most important tool being addressed, the SMART Border Concept may suffer a huge set back.

He also opined that the management should go back to reawaken and redeploy the effective use of its helicopter services, which gives “air space coverage as an intervening or counter force, a complimenting facility to combating smuggling activities on the ground (land) and sea operations”.

This, he said will enhance compliance as there will not be an escape route for the smugglers, and as well protect the lives of preventive officers.

The Area Comptroller, CAC Saidu A. Galadima, in his remark said the command generated N94billion last year 2018 into the government revenue account.

He also said the Command has also generated the sum of N8 billion as at January, 2019.

ACG Charles Edike (Rtd) in his keynote address, admonished officers on the integrity aspect of the “SMART BORDER” Concept.

Similarly, ACG Kpagi in his good will message, said there was the need to measure customs performance by not limiting it to revenue generation alone, but on the quantum application of business mindset.

He said this will facilitate legitimate trade.

He however, commended the service for the level of progress recorded so far, adding that this year’s theme is apt in promoting enabling business environment.

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