The National President of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike, has called on the Federal Government to stop importation of refined petroleum products to boost local refining capacity and earn more revenue for the country.
In a statement made available to newsmen, Nwabunike said urgent steps needs to be taken to refine crude oil locally to stop importation of refined petroleum products, as much of the country’s earnings from sales of crude oil has gone into payment of subsidies on imported products.
He added: “It doesn’t make economic sense for Nigeria to be buying what it has from outside simply because of lack of local capacity to process its crude or fix refineries amidst shifting deadlines for commencement of operations of greenfield private refineries.”
He also assured there would no job losses in the maritime sector after COVID-19, since the industry possess huge capacity to tackle post COVID-19 job losses if properly harnessed in the country.
Nwabunike said ANLCA has watched the shocking and ongoing devastating impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on various sectors of the economy leading to massive job losses and general dislocations in the global economy.
According to him, though not completely insulated from effects of the pandemic, Nigeria’s maritime industry holds potential to serve as the country’s low hanging fruits for economic growth, stability and jobs survival.
He added: “Unlike the aviation industry where government agencies like Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and Nigeria Airspace Management Agency including airlines are either planning salary cut, workers layoffs and reduction in human capital needs, the maritime industry still holds the ace as indispensable mode for global trade and commerce.
“Rather than worry over likelihood of job loss, customs brokers, freight forwarders, truck owners, chandlers and other ancillary service providers in the industry should gravitate towards keeping themselves abreast with virtual presence and operations in the ports.”
However, he urged the Federal Government to prioritised the export industry. He said Nigeria as a country took an unfortunate back stage position in export of commodities like cocoa, palm oil, and many other agricultural products.
“We as a country should identify products for which we have comparative advantage. Nigerian made electric cables have been noted for being of higher quality than most imported ones. Government should be the number one buyer of quality made -in -Nigeria products while encouraging citizens to do the same without promoting monopoly and profiteering.
“A lot of government funds have gone into wasteful and unnecessary spending on foreign trips, bogus seminars and conferences in costly hotels and many other avoidable expenses. Cutting off such expenses will not only save cost for government but will help to get attention to relevant areas,” he added.
Meanwhile, National President, Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS), Capt. Anthony Onoharigho, has called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) to invoke laws that would ensure empty containers were discharged from the ports.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen in Lagos, yesterday, Onoharigho said the measure would reduce the nuisance caused by empty containers flooding the Lagos Ports.
“These containers are meant for individuals who are shippers. The vessels that bring them, come in with goods and are supposed to take them back with goods.”
“But if there are no goods to carry, the containers should be removed from the ports immediately so, as not to constitute nuisance.
“The NPA has a constitutional way of handling cargoes with the understanding and agreement between them and port terminal operators.
“They can also invoke that part of the law to discharge the containers from the port,” Onoharigho said.