Customs CG’s One Year in Office: Stakeholders Expect More from Customs, as CG Enjoys Massive Supports – Dr Farinto

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By Innocent Orok

As most stakeholders in the import , clearing and freight forwarding chain celebrates the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Bashir Adewale Adeniyi as he marks his first one year in office, some have taken the opportunity to assess his performance.While many are congratulating him , some have mixed feelings in some areas which they want the Customs boss to either improve upon or take decisive actions to make it work.

Among the notable voices is Dr Kayode Farinto, the former Acting National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), who offered a detailed evaluation of Adeniyi’s tenure based on his six critical indices: revenue collection, border security, trade facilitation, national security, stakeholder engagement, and compliance with international conventions.

Farinto acknowledged that Adeniyi has made significant strides in revenue generation, border and national security, rating him 55% and 60% respectively. He commended the CG’s initiatives in tightening border security, which have been crucial in curbing smuggling and enhancing national safety. However, he stressed that merely meeting revenue targets is not sufficient to hype his overall performance .

On the other hand, Farinto who is the Consultant to the House Committee on Customs and Excise has scored the CG very low mark of 20% on trade facilitation. Farinto highlighted several factors impeding trade, which he believes the CG has not adequately addressed. These include bureaucratic bottlenecks and inefficiencies that have continued to frustrate traders and businesses. He mentioned that the Vehicle Identification Number ( VIN) Valuation which was a good policy has been highly compromised and now it also take longer time to get the Pre- Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).

In the area of stakeholders engagement, Farinto also scored only 20%, lamenting that engagement at the national level, despite expectations that there would be substantial interactions with stakeholders to improve customs processes and policies as the CG promised has not happened.
Farinto said ” During the time of late Dikko, he went as far as Trade Fair and Alaba Market to engage the traders, because they are the real importers generating the revenue, we have not seen that yet in this administration”.

Farinto also rate the CGC’s performance in compliance with international conventions and trade treaties domesticated in Nigeria as low as 20%. He pointed out that current practices often contravene established international agreements such as the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). He noted that the customs valuation process, which sometimes imposes arbitrary values on goods, undermines the principles of fair trade and transparency.

He also raised concerns about selective favoritism within the customs operations, which he described as detrimental to fair trade practices. This favoritism, according to him, leads to inconsistencies and undermines the credibility of the customs service.
His words ” what I mean by selective favoritism in valuation is , some people are given favorable value, while some are not, this practice cannot facilitate trade”.

Moreover, Farinto criticized the extended time frames for obtaining necessary approvals and clearances, which have lengthened under Adeniyi’s tenure. He argued that these delays are counterproductive and exacerbate the operational challenges faced by businesses.

On the practical implementation of trade tools like AEO, Time Release Studies ( TRS) he said non of this has been implemented, only lunched on paper.
“Comptroller Dera Nnadi is the Chairman of the TRS and Controller at Tin Can Island Customs, go and do your findings and see if the TRS is working. In fact Agents and importers are crying and leaving Tin Can Port”.

On the way forward , Farinto advised that while the CG is enjoying maximum support from stakeholders, including the media, he should do more to leave a landmark for anyone that will come after him. ” Am not criticising for criticism seek, am one of those who supported a career officer to become CG of the Service, where he does well I will commend him and urged him to do more, where he does not do well, I will criticize him to do well, that is how a good leader is made. Am not in the bandwagon of praising for praising sake or criticising for criticising sake, that is my opinion”.

Farinto called for a balanced approach that not only prioritizes revenue and security, but also enhances efficiency, transparency, and stakeholder collaboration.
He stated that as Adeniyi enters his second year in office, stakeholders will be closely watching to see if he addresses these critical areas to improve the overall effectiveness of the Nigeria Customs Service.

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