By Babajide Okeowo
The Acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) DCG Adewale Bashir Adeniyi has urged African countries to emulate their European and Asian counterparts by engaging in inter-regional trade in a bid to foster regional development.
This is as he disclosed that collaboration of every government agency and members of the community is required to address insecurity at the border corridor.
Adeniyi raised these observations during a stakeholders engagement held at the Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service.
“We live in a world where preferential trade agreements are going to be the order of the day. Preferential trade agreements will lead to discussions on how we will provide economic security, and how government will provide economic prosperity to its people.
So, it means that people within the same geopolitical block, within the geographical entities, will trade with themselves, and be guided on the framework of a number of preferential trade agreements.
We are already familiar with the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme which has started over 30 years ago. While we are grappling with this, other parts of the world, they have made significant progress and we discovered that in these places, the biggest trade partners are those who are within a preferential trade area.
If you look at Europe, for example, the biggest trade partners are Germany and France, and they are the leading promoters of the EU. If you look at a place like Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan, they are the biggest trading partners. They trade with other parts of the world, but they trade with themselves more.
If you go to South America, the biggest trading partners is Argentina and Brazil. They try to seek some complementarity in their operations.
In North Africa, in the framework of the trade that we conduct between ourselves, there is so much depth that we can look out for when we define our future in terms of an inward-looking economic development model.
This is what the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is all about. The drive is toward suspension of customs duty on goods that are traded within this economic block.
So, for us in Customs, for example, the bigger things we are going to be learning about would be preferential treatment, and all those kinds of evolving economic models. So, it’s a task that we must prepare ourselves for” he disclosed.
Speaking on the need for collaboration to address insecurity in the border corridor, Adeniyi stressed that all government agencies must synergize to enhance national security while urging the people to note that it is not the work of government agencies alone but a collective responsibility as it has obvious that economy saboteurs are citizens dwelling among communities.
In Nigeria, many agencies of governments deploy their officers here. And what we have talked about every time, all of the time is that we need a model that makes us to synergize with each other, not for us to work in silos and not for us to have security defined within the narrow confines of our mandates.
It’s important that Immigration, Police, NDLEA, Civil Defense, DSS, Nigerian Army, and Air Force to also see insecurity as a crime against national security.
But it’s important that all agencies that are working around the border areas also see human illegal migrants as a national security problem.
So, it is the same thing as people bringing dangerous drugs, human traffickers are all enemies against our collective will and against our collective security.
And therefore, we must all work together to teach these criminals a lesson. So therefore, I will urge us to please put our differences aside, learn to work with each other, and learn to find a way in which our activities can complement each other. It was really very pleasing when we read about the incident that happened when the Navy had to come to our assistance in a particular incident”.
Earlier, the Customs Area Controller of the Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi disclosed that the command generated over N1.2bn in revenue from January to date and recorded several seizures.
He also delved into some of the issues that have hampered trade between Nigeria and Benin Republic with whom the country shares a border in recent times.
“Several factors have hampered trade between Nigeria and her approximate neighbour, Benin Republic and especially within the sub-region. This include Transit Trade across the country and along the corridor.
There have been several complaints by operators against the closure of the border caused by the non-adherence to the transit agreements signed under ECOWAS, World Trade Agreements, World Trade Organisation, World Customs Organisation and the general agreement on trade in the entire region” he stated.
The Acting CG who was visiting the command for the first time since he resumed duty was treated to a rapturous and inspiring welcome by various stakeholders including royal fathers, and freight forwarders, who defied the heavy downpour to welcome him.
In his appreciation, the CGC said “I do not have enough words to describe the depth of my appreciation to all of you. You have defied the sun. You have defied the rain. You have defied great distances as you are seated here.
Some of you are drenched in rain. I do not have enough words to convey my appreciation to you. I just pray that God will bless you all. God will honor you. God will bring us prosperity in Seme and Nigeria” he prayed.