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Nigeria to earn $176bn from modernisation of Customs’ operations- ICRC

The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) says the Nigerian Customs modernisation project, a public-private partnership (PPP) will generate over $176 billion for the Federal Government in 20 years.

Michael Ohiani, the acting director-general of the ICRC, disclosed this on Monday at the signing ceremony of the concession.

The concession agreement is between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Trade Modernisation Project Limited, with Huawei Technologies as the technical partner and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) as the lead financiers, all under the regulatory supervision of the ICRC, according to a statement by the agency on Monday.

Ohiani said the project which is a presidential initiative, would attract an investment of over $3.2 billion.

“Having gone through all the PPP processes satisfactorily and obtained ICRC’s Full Business Case Compliance (FBC), the approval of the Federal Executive Council and the final vetting of the concession agreement by the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, the parties are ready to execute the agreement and commence implementation of the project.

“I urge the concessionaire to ensure the full implementation of the terms of the agreement credibly and in line in with global best practices,” the ICRC acting DG said.

Hameed Ali, the comptroller-general (CG) of the Customs commended the ICRC for being steadfast in advancing the implementation of the project.

He allayed the fears that the implementation of a modernised and computerised service will lead to job losses, stressing, however, that the NSC would rather require an additional 15,000 staff for optimal operation.

“Let me commend ICRC, but for their steadfastness and tenacity, we would not be here celebrating this project today. We are indeed grateful and your name is written in gold.

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“We are happy to say that in Nigeria we are going to be fully digitized and modernized. We are setting a pace for all other African countries to learn from.

“There are rumours that this project is going to weed off officers, let me allay those fears: we are even in need of officers. We have only about15,000 and by the mission of management we need nothing less than 30,000 to effectively carry out the mandate,” he said.

The CG also hoped that the project would quadruple the monthly revenue of the service.

“As of today, we are making a collection of over N210 billion to N225 billion per month. It is our hope that by the time we put trade modernisation in place, we would triple this figure if not quadruple,” he said.

He expressed optimism that the NSC would soon invite President Muhammadu Buhari to flag off the project. He called for support from all stakeholders, including staff of the service, project partners and the media.

Kevin Yang, the representative of Huawei Technologies, said: “I just want to express our commitment that we will make sure that all the deliverables to the facility and process automation and paperless customs is achieved.

“We will make sure this is a world standard project.”

Sumaila Zuberu, the representative of the AFC’s chief executive, reiterated the commitment of the AFC to the project, pointing out that its success would be a reference point for the Customs Service in other African countries.

She expressed the hope that the project would be quickly implemented, adding that the AFC was committed to providing the relevant finance required for the project.