Customs: Compt.  Eboka Moves To Improve Ondo/Ekiti Command Monthly Revenue Generations

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By Stephen Ubanna

While several Area Commands of the Nigerian Customs service, NCS, are battling for survival with little or no activity on a daily basis, the situation in Ondo/Ekiti Command appear to be worse. This is because of the dearth of Excise Factories in the state and the Command inability to sustain the tempo of non-oil export, which it has been exporting for over the years.

   Informed sources told The Value News that that there are three excise factories in the state which could not really function independently. This may have informed why the Command was said to have made efforts to compress them into one factory to be able to collect monthly manageable to excise duties.

The source disclosed that the Beautrice Uche Eboka, the Area Controller’s efforts in getting the approval and operating License from the Customs Headquarters compressing the three factories into one has reached advanced stage.     

 Many believe that the  Ondo/ Ekiti Command  was very strong in superintending non-oil exports but  Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and immediate  past Comptroller General, NCS,  may have not have encouraged the Area to sustain the efforts  which could have remained a major source of revenue.

This is evident by the Command’s non -oil export in the month of January 2022.  The Command was said to have superintended the export of 3,991 Containers of Cocoa bean in 2021.

Given the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC,  commitment to ensure that in this 2023, Fiscal year,  Nigeria generates more than  $4.82 billion  from non-oil export exports it had generated in 2022,  could have encouraged the Command to continue  to  promote  the development  of the non-oil  export  in the state but it failed to do so.

There is no gain saying the fact that the Ondo state government, particular, drives the non-oil export in the state by investing in Cocoa production    for both local and the international Cocoa markets. Stakeholders had expected  Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the state governor who had said that his Administration would embrace the full potential in the state Agricultural sector to boost thee conomy and create the  enabling environment s for Cocoa farmers  and exporters  for ease of  doing business but that was how far he could go.    

Maritime analysts believe that past and present governments of Ondo, described as home of Cocoa farmers, has kept his promise to support exporters and local farmers to achieve the development of the Cocoa revolution in the state, that would have given the 70 Customs personnel deployed to Customs Command much job to do instead of sitting most of the times   in their duty posts in the two states. That make up the Command.

  The question on the lips of most people was that since there are no excise factories in Ondo and Ekiti states or Land border area , with neigibhouring Benin Republic, to conduct anti-smuggling operations in the  in areas of jurisdictions and the dath of non –oil exports in the state , how does it generate  revenue   to pay into the Federation account  .

Informed sources told The online Magazine that it generates its revenue through interventionist efforts by scrutinizing documents of released cargoes from the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Terminal Multiservices, Limited, PTML and Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, KLT, phases I and II, including bonded terminals, found along the Ondo/ Ekiti sisde , of the Lagos –Benin Expressway .

 This is evident going by the amount collected by the Command in its interventionist efforts in the first six months of the 2023, Fiscal year.  The Magazine findings shows that between,January and June 2023, the Command  generated and paid  into the Federation  account, N11.022 million.

 A document cited by The Value News shows that in January, the Command generated and paid into the Federation account, N1.521,925.10, February, N1,521,905.10, March, N4,993,159.10.  The document further shows that the Command  generated and paid into the Federal purse N4.993.10 million, in April, N4  471.10 million, while  in the month of May, 2023,  it generated  and paid into the Federation account   N5.471.10 million and  N6,721,110.25, in June.

The Command interventionist efforts in the months of January and February 2023, may not have yielded much revenue because of the lackadaisical attitudes of importers with their agents in taking delivery of their cargoes including imported vehicles at the Lagos seaports due to the just concluded February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly elections as well as the March 31st, governorship and state Assembly elections.

Maritime analysts would want the Customs Comptroller General to give Comptroller Eboka, all the necessary support to reengineer the Command to succeed in turning it around.  One area which the officers  will want  the Customs helms man to tackle  fast is the provision of accommodation for the senior officers.  At present, there is dearth of accommodation for the senior officers deployed to the Command.  The structures that are currently coming up at the Command premises, The Value News was informed are meant for the junior officers. 

Gov. Akeredolu Of Ondo State Proposed Deep Seaport Approved By Former President Buhari Expected To Keep Customs Personnel Busy On Completion

 Aware of the poor state of economy of the state may have informed why   Akeredolu, the Ondo State governor , who is currently undergoing  medical Treatment abroad   over an undisclosed ailment   had described as a  cheering  news  when information filtered out late last year that the then President  Muhammadu Buhari, has  given approval for the granting of operating license  for the  establishment of  a deep seaport in the state.

The deep seaport , according to a projection made by the government  is expected  to gulp $1 billion or N768 billion going by the current exchange rate of N775 .462, to the North American country of the United States going by the unification of the multiple exchange rates systems being implement  by the former Administration by the present Tinubu’s government.

The Ondo state governor who is worried that there are no notable functional excise factories in the state , was said to have submitted  the proposal  for the establishment of the seaport  to the then Katsina state born Nigerian President for approval to improve the  economy of the state .

 The then Nigerian President may have been encouraged  to give the approval for the operating license to  be granted  for the establishment of the port  after a series of  due intelligence  that was said to have been undertaken by officials from both the state and Federal government.The proposed  deep seaport  in Ondo , which also has  an industrial city  with a free trade zone  status  was said  to measure 771.2 hectares.

Akeredolu, the Ondo state, who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’the completion of the multi-billion naira project will serve as a conduit for the export of the state produced goods and other agricultural goods to the international markets’’.

Ever since immediate past  President Buhari gave approval for the granting of operating License for the development of the Ondo deep seaport, Officials of the Ondo/Ekiti state Customs Command   are  deeply worried to know when the  takeoff to put  their experience  in revenue collection into practice.

When The Value News came on a working visit to the Command on Friday, July 28, 2023,  Compt.  Eboka, the Area Controller, was said to have joined other Customs Area Controllers at the Customs Headquarters, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, on the invitation of Adewale Bashir Adeniyi, the Customs Comptroller General  for a meeting, which agenda remained undisclosed.

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