• Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

Comptroller Nnadi mni Reflects On Progress Of Seme/Badagry Under His Watch

ByHybrid News

Jun 27, 2023

The Area Controller of Seme Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi mni, the Area Controller of the Command, has said that while the Seme/Badagry border has not been officially opened for vehicle importation, the Command is fully equipped and ready to handle imports whenever the government decides to open the borders for trade.

He stated this during a visit by the League of Maritime Editors, noting that the Command possesses all the necessary facilities to process and manage imports that are not prohibited by the government.

“Though, there is no such pronouncement on the opening of the border for such imports yet, before I came here, my predecessor, ACG Jibo laid strong foundation for everything am consolidating on.

“There is a bonded Terminal approved here that can accommodate one million vehicles which never existed. If you ask me whether we are prepared, I will conveniently say ‘yes’. The licences renewed, the appeal we keep making for the roads to be reconstructed are all part of the preparations,” he said.

According to the Customs Chief, there is a state-of-the-art Customs Processing Centre equipped with NICISS, complete with functional accounts and continuous operations, much like an airport that operates around the clock adding that in terms of revenue, significant strides have been made by the Command, as monthly figures continue to rise towards the ambitious goal of nearly N2 billion annually.

While acknowledging that trading fortunes at the border are not currently on par with the Command’s performance of several years ago when it generated almost N22 billion yearly, Nnadi expressed optimism that the prosperous times of the past will soon return.

Explaining how he was able to revamp the trade route, Nnadi said, “When I reported here in January, only 3 licences were operating, so any time am signing documents, the same 3 licences, so I called the technical supervisor. I asked ‘what is going on here’? He said Oga, that is how it has been. Then, I asked, how many licences are here? And he answered, Oga everybody stopped work because nothing is going on, so they couldn’t even renew licences.

“I told him, can you give me the list of those licences? So he gave me the list of 18 licences –all dead. He said these are the licences I registered under Seme. I told him to use the phone numbers that are there and form a Whatsapp group and then add me.

“He did, he came here, I called 3 or 4 of them, sent them messages and I asked him to call others. And inform them that the new Area Controller wants to revive this place. We can’t revive here without a licence and I can’t collect revenue without reviving this place. That was how I started encouraging them. Well, am happy to announce that as at three days ago, we have 27 licences renewed. And I had to do that because they are the ones that will get the job and pay the revenue, isn’t it? Without them there is no revenue.

“Now, the next thing I did was to call a stakeholders’ meeting when I arrived newly, and informed them that there is a new federal government policy that lifted the ban, that is schedule 6-8 items which says, you cannot export what has been imported into Nigeria. But under the new arrangement, if you go to Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja, you can export goods and pay 2.5 per cent of the current value of that goods. However, the process of obtaining that thing means that you have to go to Abuja. So if you have to export every time, you keep going to Abuja, so I called a meeting, made an appeal so that they can ease that process for the agents here, some of them have obtained that approval and we are trying to encourage them.

“Now the next thing we did was on the roads, you will recall during one of my press briefings, I appealed to government that hence they are doing the road already, they should make it faster. Why did I do that? You cannot lay emphasis on revenue without creating the enabling environment for people that will pay the tax to come around. Again when I came here, because of the border closure, all the security lights were all dead. I was told that it is impossible to repair them. I told them I don’t believe in impossibility, I have to get people, the little AIE we had, we used and I directed them to start repairing it.

“It took us about three weeks; we got all the lights restored. Then we got this place repainted. I thought that we needed to give people that sense of belonging that this is an environment where they can derive joy from, because people were just disillusioned, they just felt no need, for those who knew Seme before, if you come here, they just feel that it is a dead end. I told them No, let there be hope but the best way to give them hope is to restore the infrastructure. And some of them have started coming. That’s the result of what we have done so far.

“On our revenue, you can look at the board, take for instance the quantum leap from Value Added Tax (VAT), from N14 million in February to N101 million, from N85 million to N140 million. Look at the ETLS – from N248 million in February to N472 million, N539 million to N467 million, so, there is steady increase. It may be slow, but my joy is that we are making steady progress. Look at even the total revenue collected, from N130 million in January to N64 million in February –why? – because of the anxiety over the election.

“But immediately after that, it came to N155 million in March then N147 million at a later month, and to N211 million subsequently. You may think this is not up to what one SGD will pay in the seaport, but for us, it is a steady progress, that we are making and I am excited about it. Very excited, in the sense that my revenue target for the year is N1.960 billion (almost N2 billion). Now, ask yourself, this is what we would have collected in one month in Seme.

“Seme used to collect N1 billion in a month, as revenue, now am going to collect N2 billion in a year, it doesn’t give me joy. I wish Seme will become what it used to be. But be that as it may, we are still trying, As at this morning, I was told that my revenue from January till today (June 23rd) was N844 million naira. So am making progress.

“I want to believe that before the end of the year, God willing, when Christmas sales start and people come around, and they manage to do this road as they are doing now, we will be able to collect our N2 billion target. Why I gave this background is for you to know where we are coming from.

“Sometimes we have running battle with the agents, I sympathise with them. So you can imagine where the annual revenue used to be N22 billion, suddenly they are operating in an environment where the annual revenue is N2 billion, the people themselves feel frustrated and who else will they transfer their aggression to? –Is me sitting down here, because am the face of government. So they get angry with me sometimes, what do you do?

“Petitions are written- I tolerate – I tell people that am not angry with any person because don’t blame them. These are people who have been doing so well, suddenly things went bad. Like you hear some people just wake up saying Seme border has opened for vehicle importation, they push the sign that will make government think this way. Those narratives are deliberately pushed to force government to look this way. Those things make my seat difficult and hot too.

Countering any form of rumour suggesting that there are snippets that government may open this border for vehicle importation, Nnadi said, “there is no such snippets because nobody has made such pronouncement. Before I came here, my predecessor did so much and laid foundation for everything am consolidating on, that is ACG Jibo. There is a bonded Terminal approved here which never existed. I wish Seme will become what it used to be, if you ask me if we are prepared, yes we are.

“The licences renewed, appeal we keep making for the road to be reconstructed, everything, we have, our Customs Processing Unit (CPC), that has NICISS ready, my TS is there, we have accounts, we have everything, we have restored the lights because we believe this place is like the airports, there is no closing time here.”

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