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How to curb corruption at the port

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Former President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Babatunde Ruwase, says the issues of corruption at the nation’s ports can be checked by automation.

Ruwase made his view known at a webinar organised by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), with support from Siemens AG and in partnership with the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) on Thursday.

The topic of the webinar was,’Corruption in the Cargo Clearance Process at the Nigerian Port’.

He said that what should be done to address the problem was to automate the system, have a single window that would ensure checks on what one was doing.

“Presently in the port, the system is so structured that you cannot do something without paying your way out and the various reforms put in place have not gotten the required impact.

“We need to get out of this manual inspection, have timelines, an ombudsman system, and ground rules that are clear to eliminate corruption in the port,” he said.

In his contribution, Dr Kayode Opeifa, Vice-Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Restoration of Law and Order in Apapa, said there was a need to know those involved in cargo clearance at the ports.

“There are people called ‘Movers’ in the port and also some calling themselves stakeholders who do not have business at the port, but their activities have led to corruption and this needs to be checked.

“All stakeholders must show interest if we want to remove corruption at the ports, we should not allow touts to take over,” he said.

He said that the standard operating procedure of all involved in cargo clearance should be looked into, as some organisations have the policy, but on paper and not implemented.

Mr Olayiwola Shittu, former president, Association of Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) said discretionary powers of officials who run cargo processes and unwillingness to tackle issues fuel corruption at the nation’s ports.

Shittu, also the Managing Director, Borderless Alliance, said that the unwillingness to tackle issues arising from cargo clearance and the delay which led to extra cost made some people to cut corners.

“I have been in the port business since 1969 and there have been issues of corruption in the port, it is a very difficult issue that has been tackled by various stakeholders, all to no avail.

“It is so unfortunate because there are so many determinants to corruption in the port, such as the shippers and their agents, terminal operators, security agencies, transport and haulage companies and government agencies.

“All these determinants have their various functions and powers, and as long as they have discretionary powers and no way of being challenged, it becomes a problem and leads to facilitating of corruption in the port,” he said.

Shittu said that there was need for a Central Ministerial Intervention Agency to harmonise decisions in the port, as time wasted in the supply of cargo was the fertile ground that created and facilitated corruption.

Mr Muda Yusuf, Director General, LCCI, said that service system and systemic issues made it difficult to tame corruption in the ports.

According to him, there is problem of impunity and there are no structured, reliable and dependable processes of redress.

He said that in the chamber of commerce, it had been a very frustrating experience trying to intervene in some matters, and they had approached the authorities most times without making headway.

Yusuf said that trade facilitation with a form of measurement should be the Key Performance Index (KPI) for all involved in cargo clearance, rather than revenue.

Mr Vivek Menon of the MACN said that they had embarked on a project with the Federal Government to achieve port efficiency and address challenges.

“We did a Corruption Risk Assessment and came out with a Standard Operating Procedure of the various agencies such as the Customs, Port Health that come on board for inspection and decided on best way to harmonise them to reduce time.

“Also, there is a Grievance Report Mechanism whereby one can lay complaints to be addressed and we have been able to successfully tackle eight cases last year,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that MACN is a global business network working towards the vision of a maritime industry free of corruption that enables fair trade to the benefit of society at large.

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President Buhari suspends Twitter operations in Nigeria

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Federal Government has reportedly suspended, indefinitely, the operations of Twitter, the microblogging and social networking service, in Nigeria.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, via a statement issued by the Ministry’s spokesperson, Segun Adeyemi on Friday.

The Minister cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

“The Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria,” the statement read.

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Nigeria signs MoU with Niger Republic on petroleum products transportation, storage

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The Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Niger Republic on the transportation and storage of petroleum products.

This was disclosed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources via its Twitter handle on Thursday.

It tweeted, “Nigeria, Niger Republic Sign MoU on Petroleum Products Transportation, Storage. NNPC Pledges to Support SONIDEP on Capacity Building.”

The MoU was signed by the GMD NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari and the Director General of SONIDEP, Mr. Alio Toune under the supervision of the two countries’ Ministers of State for Petroleum, Çhief Timipre Sylva and Mr. Foumakoye Gado, respectively with the Secretary General of the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim in attendance.

Sylva explained that the development is another huge step in developing trade relations between both countries.

He said, “This is a major step forward. Niger Republic has some excess products which needs to be evacuated. Nigeria has the market for these products. Therefore, this is going to be a win-win relation for both countries.”

What you should know

Following bilateral agreements between Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and President Mahamadou Issoufou, talks have been on-going between two countries for over four months – through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Niger Republic’s National Oil Company, Societe Nigerienne De Petrole (SONIDEP), on petroleum products transportation and storage.

Niger Republic’s Soraz Refinery in Zinder, some 260km from the Nigerian border, has an installed refining capacity of 20,000 barrels per day. Niger’s total domestic requirement is about 5,000bpd, thus leaving a huge surplus of about 15,000 bpd, mostly for export.

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House of Reps to support full aviation reform

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The House of Representatives has promised to support total reforms in the aviation industry through legislation, as it appeals for active participation of stakeholders in public hearings.

This was disclosed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, via his Twitter handle on Tuesday.

According to him, the House has identified that the aviation industry is a key contributor to the growth of the country’s economy and through legislation it would do all it can to develop the industry.

During the opening of a 3-day public hearing session on six aviation-sector bills by the Committee on Aviation, he explained that the draft legislation would make the sector more effective and efficient.

He said, “It is imperative to note that the development of our aviation industry is an added advantage to the growth of our economy. It is in this vein that the House of Representatives will continue to support total rehabilitation and upgrading of our airports and allied services.

“The consideration of these Bills during this Public Hearing is a testament to our commitment to give new life to the aviation sector and make our airports to be a better non-oil revenue-generating sector as is witnessed in other advanced economies.”

The Speaker appealed to the public and interested parties to honour invitations to House committee public hearings so that they can share ideas on how to make critical sectors deliver optimally.

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