The Nigeria Customs Service and a consortium, Trade Modernisation Project Limited, on Monday, signed a concession agreement worth $3.2bn to digitalise operations of the border security and revenue collection outfit. This is just as the Federal Government expects to generate over $176bn from the deal.
At the agreement signing ceremony held at the Abuja national headquarters of the NCS were representatives of technical and financial partners in the deal, including African Finance Corporation and Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of China-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
The Controller-General, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), in his remarks after the documents were signed, stated that Nigeria was setting a pace that other African countries were looking forward to follow.
Ali partly said, “The journey has been long and tortuous, but we thank God that today we have signed the dotted lines. Today, we are happy to say that in Nigeria, we are going to be fully electronic, digitised and modernised. The success of this project will put Nigeria on the map.
“This project is very important in the sense that it has so many benefits that are lined up. The first benefit, which is tangible, is the fact that we are going to garner for this country, $3.5bn.
“To the Nigeria Customs, this is going to change the entire business process. It is going to put the Customs on the best part in terms of doing the business. It would remove all arbitrariness and human mistakes. It is a process that would ease the cost of doing business. It is a process that would also assist those of us who were given the task to manage with a simpler process of managing and monitoring.
The CG added, “Let me also underscore the fact that this problem, having come this far, is a project that we must support in its entirety. There are rumours that this project is going to weed away officers. Let me allay that fear. We are even in need of officers. We have only 15,000 (of them) and by the mission and vision of the management, we will need nothing less than 30,000 people to be able to effectively and efficiently carry out the mandate given to us. So, there is no question of weeding (out) anybody.
The Chairman, Trade Modernisation Project Limited, Saleh Ahmadu, who described the event as a “momentous occasion,” noted that the deal was a public-private partnership arrangement in line with the ICRC guidelines.
Ahmadu added, “The $3.2bin investments required for the project is already being finalised through an AFC led initiative. As the concession period begins, we wish to assure Nigerians that the revenue target of $176 billion for the Federal Government will be achieved, if not surpassed.
The Acting Director-General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Michael Ohiani, noted that the Commission was mandated to regulate all PPPs entered into under the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act, 2005.