By Steve Agbota
Nigeria is losing whopping N5.20 trillion revenue annually to corruption at the Nigerian ports.
The money, lost to the illicit financial flows at ports, weighed heavily on the economy as up to N1.01 trillion (about $1.95 billion) in government revenue and N4.1 trillion (about $8.15 billion) in private sector revenue were lost annually due to corruption at the nation’s ports.
However, these losses severely constrict government programs and the capacity to develop and improve much-needed public infrastructure.
At the same time, corruption at the ports can operate as a major deterrent to sustainable returns on foreign direct investment, according to a recent publication by the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
In different fora, stakeholders have lamented high level of corruption taking place, especially among the officials of different Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) operating in the maritime industry.
They complained that bribery and corruption are adding to the cost of operations at the ports, which invariably affected the purchasing power of ordinary man in the street.
Speaking with Daily Sun, the Chief Executive Officer of Convention on Business Integrity (CBi), Mr. Soji Apampa, said basically, there is tackling corruption at the port, there is need to look at what the government is doing.
He added that the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), which is a network of over 158 global shipping companies and organisations involved in maritime sector, applied to the Nigerian Government in 2012 to complain about the level of corruption at the ports. According to him, since then, MACN has been working closely with the government of Nigeria to systematically bring down the level of corruption at the ports.
For instance, he said in 2019, the incidence that were recorded by their members on corrupt demands at the ports were about 264, in 2020, it drops to 121 and so far in the year 2020, it is just over 27.
“So we have seen a progressive drop. Now, what is responsible for that, if you look into the work of steering committee, which made up of all the agencies operating at the ports and then there is a taskforce, which involve ICPC, Shippers Council, DSS, one other agency and what they have been doing is to ensuring enforcement of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
“If the procedures say I submit my documents in duplicate and there are certain things that require of me, if I meet it and it is treated accordingly, then it means that I will not be asked for any bribe and there would be no corruption. What they have been doing is to enforcing those procedures to ensure things that are outside those procedures are minimised in normal operations because it is when you have things outside those procedures that people can use their discretion and then ask for money to make something disappear or go away,” he explained.