Customs Area Controller tasks trading public on honest declaration, says no room for revenue loss

Compt. Willy Egbudin, CAC Apapa Area Command

The new Controller in charge of Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) Comptroller Willy Egbudin says he has settled to a work strategy  to uphold the integrity of the flagship command, especially in revenue generation and trade facilitation.

 In this interview, Egbudin said the command would ensure enforcement of honest declaration of cargoes to ensure the Federal Government did not lose revenue to some people who may not want to comply with the set rules.

He talked about the need for weekly close monitoring of activities at the terminals in terms of the containers received and revenue generated, while ensuring that work equipment are maintained for effective service delivery.

“Staff motivation is generally taken care of by the service, but we will continue to encourage disciplined and well-dressed officers by way of commendations,” he said.

The controller says he has also strategised on how to develop and maintain a cordial working relationship with the freight forwarders among other needs.

On strategy to ensure achievement of revenue target

He appreciates the effective structure of the immediate past controller of the command and will maintain and build on that structure as he notes, “Revenue generation is very key in the Nigeria customs service because that is one of our core responsibilities as an agency of government.

“If you look at it, Apapa Area Command is the flagship of the customs. If Apapa is getting it right that means other commands will get it right, because we generate almost 50 per cent of the revenue in the service due to the Federal Government. So, we must ensure that Apapa Area Command as the flagship  gets it right always.”

He said that in spite of not meeting the target, the 2015 revenue generated by the command was impressive, adding that “To get an impressive revenue, we will ensure that there is compliance with the rules, because without compliance it will be difficult.”

At a maiden meeting, he briefed the heads of units and terminals that maximum revenue must be generated for the government and the strategy would be by giving a weekly report on activities at the terminals. 

“The activities need to include the number of containers that they received in their terminals, then the number of SGDs received within that week, revenue generated from the containers and the SGDs, also what has been the intervention in terms of DN.

“Because we know that the trading public may not be fully compliant with the rules, so there must be infractions here and there.  We expect that the Deputy Controllers or Assistant Controllers in charge of all those terminals or units should be able to generate revenue in terms of intervention by DN.”

On the need for effective scanners

He said the fixed scanners were functioning well, but the mobile scanners were having challenges. According to him, the fixed scanners, which can scan over 500 containers daily,were reliable for good work outputcurrently, while officers who were hitherto trained were taking charge of maintaining them.

On sustaining staff motivation 

The Controller said that as in every establishment, which the customs service is not an exception, there are reward systems for those who are hardworking and a way of sanctioning those who are not complying. 

He said, “We have a robust welfare system in the service generally that officers from time to time get commendations for doing well and at the command level. 

“I have told the officers that I will commend officers who do well; if you raise substantial DN, we will write a letter to Abuja so that they will be recognised and we have that in place already. I have also told them about being well- dressed, because discipline is the bedrock of any successful organization.

“I told them that smartly dressed officers would be recognised and we will be checking that at every parade. Because if you are well dressed, it shows that you are disciplined and once you are disciplined you will be focused and know that you need to comply with the extant laws of the service. 

“We will look the best dressed officer and flag his picture everywhere to let people know that this man is the best dressed officer. Also, any officer that does something that is worth noting we will do that. We will be writing letters to Abuja to commend such officers.

“While I was at the headquarter, I had experienced times  when we wrote commendation letters to officers in the field to encourage them that management appreciates what they were doing.

“ There are also sanctions for those who do contrary to the proper thing. I have told the officers if anyone connives with any agent to defraud the Federal Government or deprive the federal government of its revenue, they will not be spared. Such cases will be investigated and taken to Abuja for further action,” he said.

Relationship with freight forwarders

He recognised that Freight forwarders were critical part of the service, the reason they are operating. He said that as Area Controller in other places, he instituted regular meetings where the agents were made to understand the need to be transparent and honest in their declarations to avoid delays in their jobs. 

He tells freight forwarders, “If you are transparent and declare correctly what you have in your container, any officer who extorts you just let me know and such person will be dealt with. But when you are not compliant with the rules, you will be dragged on and you have yourself to blame.”

He encouraged compliant freight forwarders not to be afraid of anything as long as they did the right thing, but warned that those who are not honest would have problems with the command. 

On overtime cargoes

The CAC said the command would continue to work by the set procedure for treating overtime cargo, stating that the dwell time of any container is 28 days by the rules, even though for one reason or the other, some people may not be able to turn up to clear their consignment within that period. 

He said that after a specific period, he would draw up a UCL(uncleared cargo list) and forward it to Abuja, and Abuja will request that such containers be transferred to Ikorodu. 

He will work with the terminal operators and request that they transfer all containers that are due to Ikorodu.

“We also want them to know that while we are talking of revenue generation, we are also very keen on trade facilitation because we know time is important in business.

“If you delay in clearing your containers the cost will definitely be added because timeliness on all sides will help businesses, so, I will encourage facilitation of legitimate trade,” Egbudin said.