IN Nigeria, transformation is the new order. In keeping to his agenda, The transformation Agenda President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is leading the pack among his African Counterparts in all Sectors, Segments and frontiers of the Economy.
This drive for a new infrastructural upgrade and economic transformation is in tandem with the country s Vision to be among the best 20th economy in the world by year 2020.
The Transformation Agenda arose out of the need to correct the flows in the country s drive for development where there is absence of long terms perspective and lack of continuity, consistency and commitment (3Cs) to agreed policies. The culminating effect of these has been growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
According to the information contained in the enabling document, the transformation agenda is based on and draws inspiration from the vision 20: 20: 20 and the first National Implementation Plan (NIP) and aims to deepen the effects and provide a sense of direction.
There is no doubt Nigeria is gradually and consistently transforming in all sectors, including the human resources at the various ministries, parastatals, Agencies as the engines that drive the human capacity especially at the federal level are all keying into the new order of transformation. As such for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) a transformed Customs Service is a sin qua non.
For the Comptroller General of the Service, Alhaji (Dr) Abdullahi Dikko Inde, CFR, transformation, innovations and trade facilitation are his watch words. In the past two years of the Transformation Agenda, the Nigeria Customs Service has stood on a consistent march towards the new world order of trade facilitation with the latest Information Technology Communication (ICT) that bound trades without hassles.
The service operates with its six point agenda of ICT, Capacity building, Integrity, welfare, Co – ordination and Collaboration with all stakeholders.
The clarion call by President Jonathan for all and Sundry to enlist as agents of transformation agenda was heeded by well meaning ministries, departments and agencies of government NDAs) and Nigerians with an uncommon zeal, and one of the MDAs under the federal Ministry of Finance that embraced and responded positively to the call is the Nigeria Customer Service.
For the NCS, the question of embracing the Transformation Agenda was not just to join the crowd, or was it about political correctness, but was to proof that the Service was indeed set to contribute its quota to the well being of the government and the people.
Fully reinventing herself from a bashed, misunderstood, hated and abused agency, the Service with the support of government, the trading community and stakeholders has successful embarked and implemented strategic reforms that were anchored under the six- point agenda of the Comptroller-General of Customs, this has attracted admiration from global organizations and the trading and general public.
Prudently the customs management has kept to this tanents of faith it professes. The innovations, transforma-tions and trade facilitation in the NCS stand out as the best in recent times among customs organizations in the world. This noble stride by the Dikko led customs service has brought honour, pride and recognitions to both the service and the country.
It was on such benevolence that Nigeria President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was invited to address the 119th / 120th Sessions of the Customs Cooperation Council which also mark the diamond Jubilee anniversary celebrations of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in June, 2012.
Declaring the event open, President Jonathan chronicled the Nigerian perspective on how best customs administrations can positively support and contribute to the realisation of the economic growth and development objectives of countries.
Jonathan said “The role of customs administrations has undergone significant transformation since early 1990s, gradually, but steadily evolving from the trade facilitation, protection of society and the security of international trade supply chains on the other. This, no doubt, is a reflection of not only the changing environment in which customs authorities operate, but also the corresponding changes in the priorities of government”. The
Nigerian president also point out that the customs can make or mar economic growth if the right policies are not put in place, he said Given the role customs administrations play in trade facilitation, they have always remained critical in the ability of governments to maximise the benefits from reforms, including enhancing and deepening trade integration between members of any regional trading arrangement.
Under this circumstance, there is the possibility that customs administrations may constitute an obstacle to the success of trade policy reforms, if there is resistance to the necessary modernisation that should result from changes in the policies and priorities of governments”.
President Jonathan expressed the hope that customs will in the twenty-first century play a pivotal role in the economic chair as he says “The expansion in the traditional role of customs as an enforcement agency, has led to the emergence of customs as a prominent business partner to industry players. Customs administrations must therefore see themselves in the context of the twin roles of trade facilitator and guardian of the community.
As a trade facilitator, they should be committed to building strategic partnerships with the business sector, including helping to maintain the competitive edge of the local industry, I do believe that the benefits of greater efficiency, enhanced competitiveness and higher productivity in the new global economic environment would be better achieved, if the customs service is responsive to the needs of the industry in the areas of simplification of procedures, efficient processing of shipments and the transparent use of rules and regulations’.
The Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment, Dr Olusegun O Aganga said at the launch of the portal that, the NTH was a veritable vehicle needed to drive the Nigeria trade cycle to the next level of development.
Adding that the Portal met the trade facilitation framework for improved business climate as articulated in the blue print of vision 2020.
”The launch of the information phase of the trade hub will facilitate the next phase which allows for end-to-end transaction in a single window environment”.
”An efficient application will help in creating a competitive and enabling environment for cross border trade in terms of reducing processing time and cost: hence enhancing regional economic integration”.
For ICT: the PAAR and the newly introduced Nigerian Trade Hub (NTH) has come to stay. For capacity building: training and retraining of officer and men and other stakeholders in maritime industry at both local and foreign courses is continuous.
With the world class customs staff college, the service is on top of knowledge based courses. On welfare: the 100% increase in salaries and allowances and regular payment of same is paramount. Also the building of staff quarters and barracks at all customs formations is a boost to the service.
In co ordination, the service is excellently coordinated to achieve its set goals and targets, while collaboration and integrity of the service is now at it highest level with other government agencies, traders and the general public. Looking back, at the customs, the officers and men of the service, the world Customs Organisation, the President, the Ministers, traders, and indeed the general public could see, feel, touch and notice the remarkable achievements of the service inline with the transformation agenda of the government and in march towards 20:20:20.