‘Corruption may mar Nigeria Port Process Manual’
The National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Iju Nwabunike, has warned that continuous corruption and insecurity in the Nigerian port system and maritime environment may mar the implementation of the Nigeria Port Process Manual (NPPM).
Nwabunike, in an open letter, addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, lamented that narrow-minded interests and corruption, which is allowed to reign in the country’s maritime environment for long, would serve as obstacles to actualising the mandate of the NPPM, which seeks to ensure port efficiency and effectiveness.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has begun the implementation of the NPPM, which was launched by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, late last year to improve Nigeria’s ranking on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), while sanitising the port system. The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has been appointed as the implementation lead agency.
This is all federal government agencies in the maritime sector have pledged to support the smooth take-off of the NPPM. The agencies include the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and NCS.
But Nwabunike pointed out that almost all the government agencies operating in the port are complicit in corrupt acts.
“Accessing the ports and physical examination instead of using scanners have been lucrative areas of corruption and inefficiencies in the system. One finds it difficult to understand why we allowed such unproductive methods to thrive for many years,” he said.
The implementation committee of the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM), led byMoses Fadipe, had last week directed shipping companies to inform captains of their vessels to desist from offering souvenirs to officials of government agencies on assignments.
The directive followed incessant complaints that ships that berth in Nigeria must part with gifts to officials who board their vessels for a routine inspection. Fadipe who visited some shipping companies in Lagos told shipping agencies to inform vessel captains to stop such acts henceforth.
He added that there must be no form of financial transactions between the official and the captains of vessels that berth in Nigeria. Nwabunike also lamented over insecurity in the country’s maritime environment, which he said has taken its toll on the safety of the crew, cargoes and vessels transiting within and around Nigeria’s maritime domain.
He said crew members of some foreign-flagged ships sailing through the Gulf of Guinea and in some cases Nigerian waters have either been kidnapped or killed during attacks on vessels. This he said threatens commercial shipping activities on our waters and has earned Nigeria a badge of notoriety among her peers.
“The causes of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea are multiple and multilayered, and they manifest in form violence, corruption, and in communities that resort to any means available to improve their circumstances – even if through illegal trade, insurgency, or piracy,” he said.
The ANLCA boss said if the NPPM must be seen as a document of high value beyond a mere paper, its initiators and drivers must shun egoistic tendencies and politicking.