By Bon Peters,Port Harcourt
The Nigeria Customs Service Area 1, Port Harcourt, Rivers state Command said its revenue generation was up by 13.8 percent as the Command despite some daunting challenges in the Maritime industry generated and collected the total sum of ₦89.574 Billion in 10 months of 2023.
Disclosing this to journalists in a press briefing at the Customs Area Command in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, Thursday by the Customs Area controller, Comptroller CD Wada, the figure, when compared to the corresponding period of 2022, which stood at ₦72.463 Billion, had a significant difference of ₦10.858 Billion. The difference in those figures, according to Wada, represented a 13.8 percent increase in revenue.
Wada added,that “during the period under review, the Command had experienced its lowest influx of container cargoes in to the Port, however, the import duties collected from Bulk Cargoes had contributed to the bulk of revenue collected in the Command.” He noted that significant milestones were achieved in the month of March with a revenue generation which stood at ₦11.675 Billion, and that of August which stood at ₦11.834 Billion as against ₦8.310 Billion and ₦9.677 Billion collected in the previous year.
He added that in the current month of October 2023, the Command had so far collected the sum of ₦11.909 Billion, insisting that he was optimistic that by the end of the month, that figure would rise above other months of 2023.
He however, attributed the feat to the painstaking engagement with the critical stakeholders through several forms of sensitization programs and training particularly on issues of Non-conformity with statutory clearance procedures even as he emphasized that the feedback he got could be attributed to some of the successes recorded so far.
Comptroller Wada maintained that the Command also insisted that all unpaid assessment must be paid noting that in terms of additional value through interventions, the Command generated over ₦1.762 Billion in the period under review. These interventions according to him were derived from Demand Notices (DN) issued to importers with infractions on their importations.
Still in the period under review, he said “the Command had organized several capacity building programs for her officers and men through Pep-Talks which tackled sensitive issues such as Import and Export Procedures, Bond on Customs Procedures, NCS Fast Track 2.0, Customs related Commercial Fraud and the role of Intelligence investigation and Memo writing among others.”
In the area of Export, he stated that the Command had facilitated the exportation of 30,000mt of Charcoal, and 26,000mt of Zinc and Lead through the Ibeto Wharf even as he reiterated that ” it is strongly believed that with the take-off of the Ibeto Wharf, the Command will sustain a good import and export hub, as well as a sustainable revenue base.”
On Anti-Smuggling activities, the Command said it had put more emphasis on 100 percent physical examination policy of the service, and as a result, some containers suspected to have falsely declared had been placed under detention, pending further investigation. He therefore warned any would-be smuggler to avoid Area 1 Command, because according to him, their containers would be seized and culprits arrested and prosecuted in the court of law.
Comptroller Wada also stated that in the period under review, his command had embarked on a working tour to their Bayelsa and Ahoada Out-Stations to appraise the Customs activities in those areas. According to him, the visit to Bayelsa State also afforded his command the opportunities to pay courtesy visits to the heads of other Government Security agencies with the aim to seek further collaboration and synergy with them in order to foster a better working relationship and to achieve National interest in line with the extant guidelines.
“I am very optimistic that with the Command’s strategy of maximizing the collection of Customs duties, other levies, and payment of all unpaid assessments, the Command will surpass the revenue collected in 2022.” Wada said.
Continuing, he averred “under my administration, the Command organized interactive sessions with all the Government agencies operating in the port with the aim of fostering inter-agency collaborations and synergy. These interactive sessions were extended to Customs licensed Agents through sensitization programs.
“I recalled that I reported to duty on Tuesday 27th January, 2023, and despite my short but eventful stay here, I must admit that I met and worked with some of the most resourceful set of officers and men of the service here in Area 1.”
“The cooperation, support and brilliant contributions received from members of my management team had been very pivotal to our successes recorded, especially in the areas of capacity building, value addition and revenue generation.”
“I am also convinced that with the right leadership in place, with more synergy with our critical stakeholders, the Command will record more successes.”
Comptroller CD Wada used the opportunity to thank Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) BA Adeniyi MFR and his management team for their support and encouragement even as he equally thanked the Zonal Coordinator, Customs Zone C, Port Harcourt, (ACG) O Peters for a harmonious working relationship.
Some Goodwill messages were delivered by the critical stakeholders and the Customs management team, who eulogized Comptroller CD Wada as a top breed Customs officer who has brought a lot of positive changes in the Nigeria Customs Service administration especially in Area 1.
The chapter Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Area 1, Pastor Jerry Opara said if he was to move a motion for Wada to stay, he would have done that but the essence of Labour is mobility hence Wada has to go, but regretted that the Area would lose a man who did not only come to collect revenue but to impact knowledge to the agents and other stakeholders.
He equally used the opportunity to solicit for cooperation and synergy from the incoming Area Controller, Comptroller YM Hashim.
In his contribution, a representative of Max shipping /Ibeto Ports and Business Development executive of the company, Chief Ukachukwu Ejikeme applauded the harmonious working relationship between his company and the outgoing Comptroller Wada. He said Wada was not only a customs officer, but also a teacher who brought his wealth of experience to bear on the job, stakeholders and the entire Maritime industry.
He said, though the Command and the entire Maritime community would miss him but God will continue to protect and guide him in his future endeavour.
The high point of the event was the official handover of the Area Command to the incoming Area controller, Comptroller YM Hashim who Comptroller Wada described as a very trusted and well experienced customs revenue administrator with vast experience in Customs Tariff and trade, enforcement and intelligence.
In his acceptance speech, Comptroller Hashim thanked CD Wada for uplifting the revenue generation of Port Harcourt Area 1 command. He said he was familiar with the Command having left just two years ago.
While promising to run an open door policy and inclusiveness he however said all hands must be on deck to achieve the desired objectives of uplifting the Command. He said Comptroller Wada has raised the bar in Revenue generation and collection but he would comfortably fit into his shoes by adopting most of the operating systems and procedures already in place.
He therefore solicited the cooperation of the Officers and men of the Command as well as other critical stakeholders to move the Command to a higher level. Present at the event include, other sister government agencies, such as NDLEA, NPA, Immigration, ANLCA, NAGAFF, shipping companies among others.