Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged the Nigeria Custom Service, NCS, to brace up for the challenges of the dynamic environment in which it operates, saying its role now is more of a critical facilitator of investments.
Professor Osinbajo stated this on Thursday at the graduation ceremony of the Senior Division Course 1/2018 of the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja.
He said while the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, has performed exceptionally well in the past two years, collecting over one trillion naira in duties, it must work to attract investment by ensuring enabling environment for businesses.
“The customs service is bound to play a greater role this time as an economic facilitator, or if you like, as an investment facilitator,” the vice president stated.
He explained that it was for this reason that the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) sits as a member of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, and the Economic Management Team, “not as a revenue-generating agency but as a critical player in creating an enabling environment for business.”
He said with the active collaboration of the NCS under Ali’s leadership, government has reduced processes and documentation required for import and export.
Osinbajo said government was on the threshold of launching a trade platform that would integrate all ports and customs processes through a single window.
“This is bound to remarkably cut down processing time for all inward and outward trade, increase revenues and introduce visibility and transparency to all transactions,” he said.
According to Professor Osinbajo, the Nigerian government was taking a more robust approach to anti-smuggling drive.
He said this has significantly reduced import of rice into the country.
“In about 18months we proved that we can be completely self sufficient in rice production. We are producing as much paddy now as we need. Hitherto, we used to import 5million dollars of rice per day. Today, we are down to 2% of that. We are practically producing all of the rice that we need. “
Vice President Osinbajo said government was adopting a new approach, which “combines technology enabled surveillance of our borders with vigourous manual surveillance and active diplomacy with our neighbours.”
He said government was also working with the NCS and the Immigration Service to take a second look at movement of livestock and herders under the ECOWAS Free Movement of Goods and Persons Protocol.
“It is important that we ensure that while we respect international treaties, where those treaties threaten our territorial integrity or peace and security we will take very stringent actions against them,” he stated, pointing out that all of the required certification, identification, and processes that should be done under the protocol must be observed.
Also speaking, a director in the Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Olubunmi Siyanbola, who represented the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said the Board of the Nigerian Customs Service will support all efforts to training of officers to enhance their capacity.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), said the NCS, under his leadership has prioritized training of officers to develop human capital to drive the modern customs service.
A total of 40 Customs officers participated in the Senior Division Course 1/2018, which began in January this year.