Senator Tijjanni Yahaha Kaura, Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) and Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, Managing Director/CEO Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) paid a courtesy call on the newly appointed Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr. Bashir Adewale Adeniyi,in Abuja on Friday July 28 2023, to felicitate with him on his appoint ant.
In a joint meeting at the office of the Acting CGC, innovative modalities of the use of the free zone scheme to accelerate the growth of the nation’s economy were discussed to remodel the scheme’s processes and procedures for greater impact on the economy.
Speaking at the meeting, the OGFZA helmsman who was accompanied by the General Manager Operations, Mr Adekunle Ajayi and AGM Special Duties, Mr Morgan Mmahi, expressed the gratitude of himself, the Authority and that of the Oil and Gas Free Zones investors to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for appointing Mr. Adewale Bashir Adeniyi to steer the ship of the Nigeria Customs Service.
He described the Ag. CGC as one of the finest and thoroughbred professionals that the Service has ever produced, and expressed his confidence that the new CGC will bring his very wide experience to bear on his new role.
Emphasizing the need for effective public private sector collaboration towards developing the nation’s Free Trade Zones, Sen. Kaura also backed the request made by the MD/CEO- NEPZA, Prof. Adesugba that a committee comprising of representatives of OGFZA, NEPZA, NEZA and the Nigeria Customs Service be set up to look into issues that currently affect the smooth operation of Customs Procedures in the various special economic zones in Nigeria.
The NEPZA boss, Mr. Adesugba explained that it was incumbent on the Nigeria Customs Service to help the regulatory bodies drive the success of the free trade ecosystem by allowing seamless trade facilitation across the landscape.
In his response, the Acting CGC, Mr. Adeniyi, revealed his plans to upscale the good working relationship between Agencies in the Free Zone eco-system by convening a special retreat between the NCS, the two regulators and (their) legal experts, to examine the various Acts for proper understanding of their provisions with regards to the operation of Free Trade Zones, as well as identify areas where overlaps exist in the enabling laws of the Nigeria Custom Service and the Free Zones Regulatory Authorities, for possible reviews. He expressed the hope that the outcome of the proposed retreat will ensure that the Free Zones scheme in Nigeria properly aligns with the standards operated by other jurisdictions across the globe. “We need to constitute a joint committee between us and some relevant stakeholders to address our common concerns”.
The committee was given five days to meet, deliberate and submit a report to the Acting CGC, with recommendations on how to resolve those issues.
He further assured that the Nigeria Customs Service, as one of the spines of the Free Zone Scheme, will continue to work in line with the standard trade facilitation policies to attract a seamless opportunity for business people to invest in the free Zones scheme in Nigeria.
Sen. Kaura, impressed by the outcome of the meeting, expressed optimism that the collaboration would be on the interest of the nation, as well as to ensure rapid economic growth and progress for the country as it showed clear willingness by the Customs to support the free zones.
In an interview after the meeting, OGFZA helmsman, Sen. Kaura, described the collaboration between the Free Trade Zones and Nigeria Customs Service as necessary, adding that “our meeting with the CGC is fruitful, as it revolves around proffering solutions to our common issues, and I am happy that the Ag. CGC is committed to addressing them”.