Stakeholders in the nation’s maritime industry have knocked the Federal Government over the $3.2bn modernisation project of the Nigeria Customs Service.
The Chairman of the Trade Modernisation Project Limited, concessionaire of the facility, Saleh Ahmadu, last week, said that the Federal Government would generate $200bn revenue from the Customs modernisation project.
Speaking at the inauguration in Abuja, Ahmadu said a total of $3.2bn would be invested in the project.
He said, “The NCS has partnered with Trade Modernisation Project Limited, under a public-private partnership arrangement, to deliver the best-in-class technology for full automation of NCS processes to align with its peers around the world. The project would result in increased efficiency in NCS’ service delivery.
“Under the terms of the concession agreement, TMP will invest a total of $3.2bn over a 20-year period, which will generate more than $200bn in revenue for the Federal Government. The financing for the first phase of the project, in the sum of $300m, together with a cash-backed $9m performance bond in favour of the NCS, has been secured through our financial partners.”
Reacting to this, a one-time member of a committee on Customs reforms, Mr Lucky Amiwero, said that the project should not be implemented.
He stressed the need for the government to review the project, adding that the people involved in the project are experts in such fields.
“It should be reorganised, it must be investigated because the people who run that programme are not Custom experts. It is something that the government must review, get experts to look at it and it should not be implemented now. The people who supervised that project are not experts. So the government should be very careful, it has to be harmonised.”
Amiwero, who is also the founder of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, said there was a need for a total reorganisation and reform of Customs.
Also speaking, the Acting National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Kayode Farinto, said, “The project is just to defraud the Federal Government. Firstly, how can you bring in Chinese to come and supervise our Customs when we have indigenous software companies that can handle that? Secondly, everything was shrouded in secrecy and Nigerians do not even know the Memorandum of Understanding signed for the contract. So we have made recommendations to the new president that the project should be cancelled, it is a fraud, it is a way of settling the boys, it was done at the twilight of Buhari’s administration and we have advised Mr President that it should be cancelled,” he added.