How Edun, Adeniyi, Cardaso Won  Hearts Of Traders; NAGAFF Speaks

By Stephen Ubanna

The Leadership of the National Association of the Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, who appears to have taken a close watch at every step taken by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state over the last four months on his trade related decision are happy with him.

The NAGAFF Leadership and their members are particularly enthused with the role played by the trio, Wale Edun minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, Michael Cardaso, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN,and Adewale Adeniyi, Ag, Customs Comptroller General. The duo,Edun, were said to have held prominent positions under Tinubu, as governor of Lagos state.  Take for instance Edu, was the former Lagos state governor Commissioner for Finance while Cardaso was the Commissioner for Economic Planning g and Budget and Head of the Citibank in Nigeria.

 The trio, Edu, Cardaso and Adeniyi, described in both official and unofficial circles as the pillar of the Tinubu’s Administration Economic Team were said to have been instrumental to various trade related decisions of the government in the recent time.

Adeniyi: Acting CG Customs

   The lifting of the eight year-old foreign exchange   ban on the importation of Foreign rice and 42 other Customs traded goods into the country   imposed by the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari on the advice of Godwin Emefiele, the former governor of the CBN, bear eloquent testimony, to the efforts of the trio to reshape the country’s economy and which has the backing of the Nigerian President.

Funny enough, the same day  the government lifted the forex ban  on rice and the 42 other items imports dollar supply  which rose sharply  to  $407.86 million  in the official  Forex market  dropped to $53.02 million  or 86.99% the next day,  which reflected  the volume of transactions  at the Investors and Exporters, I&E forex window, thus fuelling speculations making the rounds that the CBN , would not be able to cope with the demand for the North American country of the United States , US, dollar despite promise of going to intervene in the market from to time.  . Meanwhile the CBN , had $10 million

 Willing buyers and willing sellers were said to have quoted the US dollar at N799.90 as the highest bid and N475.00 to the dollar as the lowest rate at the official market. As  at Wednesday, October 18, 2023, , according sorces at the Bureau De  Change in Lagos,   the exchange rate was n1070 to the US and sell at N1080 to the dollar.

  Indeed, since the lifting of the eight year-old ban on forex sales to rice and the other 42, other importers, the naira had witnessed a free fall, that people fears that the Nigerian currency heading to be at the same exchange rate level with the Zimbabwean dollar, which is worth less in the forex market.

Cardaso: Governor CBN

 Notwithstanding the free fall of the naira in the both the official and parallel market, Cardoso, the new CBN governor, had given his words that he will not to dabble into the country’s fiscal policy matters unlike Emefiele, his predecessor, who had ‘’concentrated on trade -related matters, paying little or no attention in regulating  the country’s  Monetary policy’’ which is the core mandate of the apex bank. The message was very clear that the apex bank under his leadership would concentrate on its core mandate of monetary policy regulation to firm up the value naira.

 Adeniyi, Ag Customs Comptroller, who was said to have used his short period in office to bring relief to traders and making all the necessary moves to moderrnise the service as obtained in other parts of the world has continued to be congratulated as ‘’God Sent’’ for the task ahead’’.

 Bonniface Anniebonam, founder NAGAFF, and others who had cried out over the Buhari’s government punitive policy has found cause to praise for his g in the last good job.  Anniebonam, who could not hide his feelings had said that Emefiele,   has no reason  whatever, not to have  contacted   the  Customs Board  under the then Chairmanship of Hajia  Zainab Ahmed, the minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning   to advise him  before removing the 43 items  from forex benefits  in relation to the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, Cap 2004.

 He noted that if the former governor of CBN  had  sought the advice of the Hajia Ahmed  led  Customs Board  before  delisting rice and the other 42 items from the country’s import list,  the Board, which has  Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and the then Customs Comptroller General,  as  Vice Chairman  would have ‘’advised  him’’ appropriately  and professionally’’

Informed sources told The Value that Anniebonam and his NAGAFF Team had made several attempts’’ to draw Ali’s attention to the provisions of the CEMA, but no luck because of the tight security mounted around him by an Army Brigadier General who was his Personal Assistant.

.   The NAGAFF, founder had alluded to the fact that it was difficult to reach Ali, the former Customs Comptroller General, c because his mind was already   made up to seize all the imported rice into the country to show that he is effective in the discharge of duties .

 Many believe that Buhari, the former Nigerian President may have given the Customs Interventionists Units, across the country the ammunition to seize such foreign rice imports, and the other 42 items on the government prohibition list, because of the ban had placed its importation   through the nation’s borders with the neighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Niger, Central African country of Cameroun and Tchad on January 1, 2017.

 This may have informed why the Interventionist Units personnel across the country went all out to seize the prohibited goods at every slightest opportunity.  From Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Imo, Edo, Cross river, Akwa-Ibom, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano to Sokoto, the story was the same:  increased foreign rice seizures as the government warehouses in these states were filled to the Brim. 

 Indeed, the unbanning of the restriction of the sales of forex by the CBN,  to the importers of the prohibited 43  Customs trade goods by Tinubu,  may have given the NAGAFF Leadership the ammunition ‘’ to make a passionate appeal  to the Nigerian President  to  release all the rice imports  and the 42 other items  seized by the NCS , under the immediate past and current  Customs Leadership.

 The NAGAFF Leadership had made it clear to those that cares to listen that ‘’there was no basis for Customs personnel on anti-smuggling operations to confiscate and seize such rice imports and the other 42 items of the innocent traders’’ who knew much  about ‘’the existence of the bill of collection in international trade transactions’’ before going into the business.

The NAGAFF Leadership would also want the minister and Adeniyi, the Customs, Ag. Comptroller General. Who within the short period in office could bring a relief to traders to go a step further to approach the  President    ‘’to grant amnesty  to all the importers that their goods  were seized   and are still  within the custody  of the Customs to take delivery of such  goods’’. The Association noted that the rice importers and the other 42 items ‘’ never breached Customs Laws or the country’s Fiscal policy’’ to be punished to the extent of losing their multi-million-naira investments which is very discouraging to other investors.

Perhaps, to ensure that Customs operations would not go back to the dark era of the Ali’s era, may have informed why the NAGAFF Leadership and other agents Association   had said that what Adeniyi, the Ag. CGC, needed to do at the moment is ‘’to initiate stakeholders’ engagement, enhanced compliance and responsible partnership with the Freight Forwarding Practioners across the   nation’s seaports, airports and Land border areas’’.

 The Freight Forwarders, would want the new Customs Management under the Leadership of Adeniyi ‘’to concentrate on policy issues, welfare of officers and men, training and retraining of officers, disciplinary measures, issuance of operational License and permits to clearing agencies, conduct of promotion examinations, international Collaborations and engagement’’

They noted that for officers at the Trade and Tariff, TT, Department, seating at the Customs Headquarters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to be issuing trade alerts at the country’s seaports and the Land border areas which is regarded as anti-trade facilitation actions and indeed as a sign of mistrusts of the operational officers at the ports and border should be stopped by the new Customs Administration by devolving power and Authority ‘’to enhance productivity’’.

They would also want the  Customs ‘’to profile  the big time  importers and encourage them to diversify into manufacturing as obtained member countries of the World Customs Organisation, WCO and boost the country’s excise factories and the forex that would be earned from export of manufactured products.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *