Kayode Farinto is the acting National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA). In this interview with PAUL OGBUOKIRI, he charges the Presidentelect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to beam his searchlight on the maritime industry, with the view to reforming it for optimum performance
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu was recently announced President-elect of Nigeria. What are you expecting him to do for the maritime industry?
We have a lot lined up for him to transform the Nigeria maritime industry because this is an industry that has the capacity to earn more income for the country than oil and gas. We want the president-elect to beam his searchlight on the maritime Industry, which is an alternative source of revenue for the government. You know that I have always believed that the Transport Industry should be balkanised and a Ministry specifically in-charge of Maritime Affairs is created where agencies like National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and others will be part of to harness the potential in the maritime industry fully.
The maritime ministry will enable Nigeria to fully explore its blue economy resources to increase revenue earnings for the Federal Government, create employment for Nigeria’s teeming youths and add value to the nation’s economy. I want the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to beam his searchlight on the maritime industry, which is now the revenue basket of Nigeria, aside from oil. For his government to successfully reap the revenue accruing in the sector, maritime professionals should be part of the think tank in this government, either as agency heads or as board members.
Have you taken any step to draw his attention to the importance of the maritime industry to the economy?
I was the Lagos State coordinator of the Progressive Solidarity for Asiwaju (PSA), a support group of maritime stakeholders and allied industries in the sub-sector of the Nigeria’s economy and during our meetings with the President-elect in the build-up to the election and we know that he will bring the desired change to the maritime industry. We are proud of the All Progressive Congress (APC), successes at the elections and we urge the President-elect to work for a better Nigeria. The Nigeria maritime industry is ready to work with the Government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the sector to advance its course.
We at ANLCA/ PSA are particularly grateful for this victory as we have all worked hard to achieve it. I want to assure all maritime stakeholders that the Tinubu /Shettima Presidency will bring a new lease of life to the Maritime Industry as the president-elect has promised to carry the sector along during our engagement with him.
I want to urge all maritime stakeholders to support the APC Government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, so that we can all benefit as professionals and stakeholders from this government in order to move the industry forward. We appeal to him to have Special Advisers on Maritime and Customs Affairs. This will help his government to have professional and technical advice that will grow the industry and generate more revenue, especially with the full harness of the blue economy, which will create millions of employment opportunities for our teeming youths.
Specifically in the freight forwarding sub-sector you operate, what are your expectations?
One of the basic changes we expect from the new administration when sworn in is that it ensures the reduction of the 15 per cent levy on used vehicles and also increases the age limit of imported used vehicles. As regards the issue of age limits of imported used vehicles, we want the incoming government to raise the age limit of imported used vehicles to about 15 years from the date of manufacture and also reduce the 15 per cent levy on used vehicles. Those are among our proposals to the President-elect to address when he assumes office on May 29. We also want him to appoint a serving Customs Officer as Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Frankly, in line with international best practices, the new Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) must as a matter of necessity be appointed from and among the proper officers and not this aberration of appointing a soldier who has very little or no knowledge of Customs operation; a development that has impeded the growth of cargo clearance and Nigeria Customs operations in Nigeria in the past seven years. The forthcoming 2023 edition of your Annual General Meeting (AGM) continues to generate controversy among your members, especially those in the other faction of the association.
I hope the AGM is for all members? You know that the membership of ANLCA is a corporate body, which is licensed by the Nigeria Customs Service. So, corporate members of ANLCA were qualified to attend the AGM slated to hold on March 15 at Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos. The chairman or a director in the company will represent the company at the meeting. To comply with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) letter addressed to me on February 10, the national secretariat of ANLCA kick-started the process of organising the AGM as contained in the ANLCA Supreme Constitution.
This time around, the National Executive Committee (NECOM), in its magnanimity, reduced the processes due to the current economic situation in the country and in a bid to carry everybody along. For you to attend the 2023 AGM and any ANLCA AGM, you must have a licence or be a director of a company licensed by the NCS or a corporate member of ANLCA. A token of N10, 000 being the 2023 annual due should be paid, while every other due and condition were waived. This was agreed to make sure nobody is left out.
But it is mandatory for all members desiring to attend the AGM to pass through the normal processes as contained in the ANLCA Supreme Constitution. I have done mine and I expect others to do theirs. For the records, the database of ANLCA members is domiciled in the national secretary’s office, and anybody that wants to attend the AGM must clear his/herself in that office.
I want to state that anybody that goes somewhere to collect a licence without clearing the national secretary’s office to authenticate the genuineness or otherwise of such a licence will not be accepted. ANLCA is a constituted association, and we all agreed to follow our constitution. That is sacrosanct. Also, the process of conducting the 2023 NECOM Election would be part of the decisions to be taken at the 2023 AGM. This is because the tenure of the current NECOM will expire on April 16. As such, in accordance with ANLCA Supreme Constitution, within 90 days to the expiration of any NECOM tenure, elections must be held to bring in new leaders, and the 90 days started counting from February. I implore members to dust their documents to contest in any positions of their choices.
As observed, some of your members already seem unhappy over the intervention of the CRFFN. What is your message to such members?
My message to such members is that they should eschew bitterness and leverage on the olive branch from the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to resolve the crisis. CRFFN intervened in the crisis when it decided to supervise and sponsor the 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Recall that the Council as one of the conditions for the AGM mandated both warring Board of Trustees (BOT) members to nominate four Board members from both sides, while the 9th member will be elected at the AGM. We will be going ahead with the AGM under the supervision of CRFFN and the association will conduct its National Executive Committee (NECOM) election after the AGM as the present NECOM will not stay a day longer in office. And as I speak with you, over 200 of our members have registered for the 2023 AGM going through the normal process of verification and authentication of any License presented and the position of the company representatives, which must be a Director level in such company and the process has been going smoothly and is ongoing.
On the planning and other processes that led to the coming AGM, I want to state here, neither the Chairman, nor any Council member intimated any of us or sought our opinions before taking their decisions. I learnt that it was the agreement of both BOT factions. It is also instructive to state here that this was purely a BOT affair and neither me nor any member of NECOM could have intruded into their decisions as has been speculated by those who are bent on destroying ANLCA. So allegations that the Council is turning the report in our favour is baseless, mischievous and cheap propaganda to once again truncate the peace process, since it’s not in their favour.
Your message to all members of the association as AGM/election comes up next week?
My appeal to all of them is that they must eschew bitterness, envy and bickering, but work toward building a new ANLCA. As our country Nigeria is moving towards a new dispensation, ANLCA should do the same for the betterment of our profession and the industry.