The first woman Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Ikeja, Lagos, Comptroller Jane Shoboiki, has been lauded for quickly finding a solution to the operational crisis which led to a two-day strike action by licensed Customs agents at the command last week.
This commendation came from the Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Comrade Bernard Onyeka Udo in a brief chat with PortNews at the airport on Wednesday.
Enthused by the return of operational activities at the Nahco and Sachol warehouses, Comrade Udo said Shoboiki’s resort to a mutually agreed and acceptable solution to the crisis was a manifestation of motherly maturity and act of patriotism. ‘’The crisis last week could be blamed to both the Customs and our people, but the Controller used her professional wisdom to soften down, reached an amiable settlement for the job to move forward. I consider this as an act of patriotism by a civil servant who has the larger interest of the nation at heart,’’ noted Comrade Udo.
Customs agents at MMIA had downed tools for two days last when Comptroller Shoboiki clamped down on some malpractices festering around some shipments emanating from Far East, especially China. Most of these cargoes are labelled as informal as they often arrive without PAAR, thereby leaving gaps for manipulations. The CAC’s decisive actions to stop this abuse met with stern resistance in the form of industrial strike that halted cargo clearance operation for two days at the airport.
Comrade Udo however advised Comptroller Shoboiki to recognise the peculiarities of the MMIA Command as compared to the maritime sector where she had worked for many years. ‘’This MMIA is different, our cargo are extremely essential tools needed urgently by industries, hence our jobs are done mostly in a hurry. Stopping as or creating crisis that stop work could be counterproductive to the economy. The Controller must be mindful of this fact. This last week strike must have hurt the economy, the Customs, the agents and the end users badly. The CAC must not allow this to happen again,’’ he counselled.
He therefore advised that the Federal Government and other authorities must henceforth deem it as vital the contributions of customs agents and freight forwarders into policy formulation especially such that concern the sector. ‘’For instance, when setting revenue target, the Federal Government does not consider cargo traffic and volumes which is where agents and importers can advise. But on the contrary, they put out policies that discourage both import and export,’’ he observed.
Udo regretted that NAGAFF was the worst hit by the crisis for the fact that the top freight forwarders who handle blue chip company jobs are NAGAFF members, a development that is counterproductive to the economy.
The Chairman, however, praised the ANLCA-NAGAFF collaboration at the airport as worthy of emulation. ‘’We have a cordial working relationship because at MMIA here we are all like siblings of the same mother. And I have met and extended a hand of harmonious relationship to all government agencies including FAAN, the Police, Nahco and Sahcol. Thus far we have recorded only peace and progress here at MMIA Lagos,’’ he concluded.