By Yusuf Odejobi
The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) and Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) have said that Nigerian ports have recorded a significant success in reducing corruption by over 75 percent.
Both organizations revealed this yesterday at a workshop jointly organized on the theme: “Capacity Building for Freight Forwarders & Business Integrity in Nigeria’s Maritime Industry”.
Speaking at the summit, the Anti-Corruption Advisor for CBi, Mr. Babatunde Oluajo disclosed that in the last two years there has only been 25% reported cases and incidents corruption compared to the preceding the years.
Oluajo added that this was achieved through the collaboration of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), MACN, CBi and all port stakeholders that have embraced integrity in order to bring down incidence of corruption.
His words: “There has been a reduction in the number of incidents by ship captains calling at Nigerian ports. So this sensitization is important because when the corruption perception index is being carried out, it’s the captains of the vessels that call at our ports the researchers will ask questions about the perception of Nigerians in doing business.”
Mr. Ogar Izah, representing the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) in his keynote address said that the nation is making progress in reducing corruption with collaborations with MACN and CBi.
He noted that it is evident in the reports of MACN members’ vessels calling Nigerian ports with less complaint and quick resolutions without backlash effect.
Izah also said that there has been over 50% drop in the numbers of incidents reported by vessels calling Nigerian port in 2020 over the 2019 numbers
“Part of the progress made was the $20,000 bribe recovered from boarding officials at the port. We have also gone ahead to tell vessels calling at Nigerian port not to pay anyone money. Right now every government agency is being watched. Gone are the days where agencies spend an hour on board of a ship or go individually but now it’s streamlined, it’s not more than 2 people per agency and they must not spend more than 30 minutes.” he said.
He added that even though they’re facing a lot of resistance particularly from government agencies, the report was a good narrative which shows the partnership with MACN to host the event in order to sensitize stakeholders.
Speaking earlier, the President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche noted that the post Covid-19 challenges faced by the maritime industry indicates that the nation needs to go digital.
According to him 85% of the documents in the Nigeria Port Process Manual (NPPM) are manual processes which means that the country is yet to go digital and eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks faced by port users.
While commending the organizers of the event, he noted that the topic chosen was timely with what is going on in the industry to re-position the maritime industry.
On his part, a former President of NAGAFF, Dr. Eugene Nweke, speaking on “Actions and Inactions that Promotes Corruption in the Maritime Industry” said that corruption in the maritime industry is all encompassing.
He stressed that corruption starts from the institution whereby the government politicizes the appointment of key heads of agency in the maritime industry.
On the partnership with MACN, he said that the arrangement was made to build capacity for freight forwarding operation, sensitizing the practitioners on issues that have to do with corruption at the port and the digitization process to remove human elements that give birth to corruption.
He added that their Intervention now is to ensure that the corruption index of Nigeria as assessed by the global world is minimized.
On the way forward, he noted that the government should create National Single Window administration, agencies should set professional regulation, standard and sanctions across board, rejig economic regulatory objectives with emphasis on sanction, encourage private automation and reduction of human contact at the port.
Speaking on “Corruption at port”, Mr. Okerafo Eze who represented the Director General of Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said that corruption is a phenomenon that needs to be addressed in order to ensure smooth functioning and better cargo clearance process at the nation’s ports.
He also said that the problem of corruption could be perpetrated by any or a combination of all agencies and stakeholders operating at the port and therefore important to address the circumstances that creates corruption.
Eze added that there’s a need to tackle the problems within the context of a cause and effect framework.
MACN and CBi are initiatives focused on changing the Nigerian port system that was known for corruption and all sorts of inconsistencies.