Imo State Government House, Owerri
The Nigeria Customs Service will by 2016, (next year) organize a high powered summit in the South-East preferably in Imo state to interact with the South-East Governors, traders and businessmen of Igbo extraction following the agreement and admission by the governor of Imo state, Governor Rochas Okorocha and the comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hammed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) that such parley has become necessary following the fact that more than eighty percent (80%) of importers or businessmen who deal with the customs are from the South-East.
Governor Okorocha while welcoming Col. Ali and his team, to the Government House Owerri Tuesday called for the citing of the Customs Service Institute in the state, and a summit to be organized next year by the Service in any part of Igboland to enable the Customs personnel, South-East governors, Igbo traders and businessmen to discuss and clear all the grey areas and to bridge the communication gap between the Customs service and its trade partners from the South-East.
According to Governor Okorocha, most of the Customs service policies and actions are most often been misconstrued or being misinterpreted to mean measures to punish the traders or businessmen from the South-East due largely to lack of proper communication, adding that a forum where the customs service leadership would meet with the governors, traders and businessmen from Igboland to talk, has become necessary.
His words, “Eighty percent of the trade partners of Customs come from the South-East region. So, I suggest for a forum of interaction between the Customs, the South-
East governors, traders and businessmen from the area to take care of certain issues” including the policies and actions of the Nigeria Customs Service as they affect the traders and businessmen from the region.”
He continued, “the International Cargo Airport is good news to Imo people and the South-East in general. I enjoin the Comptroller-General to help facilitate the speedy take off of the project by sending airport Customs comptroller once the need arises. There is need for the country to diversify on the economy as the era of oil boom seems to be over especially when most nations of the world have alternatives to oil.”
He described the Comptroller-General as a man of discipline, stressing that the Nigeria Customs Service needs a man of his calibre to bring about the desired change needed in the service and in line with the change mantra of the president Mohammadu Buhari’s administration, adding too that the change had begun in Imo state for the past four years
which has made the state to witness rapid infrastructural development, since his administration came on board in 2011.
In his own speech, the comptroller-General, Col. Ali (rtd.) noted that Igbo traders constitute more than eighty percent (80%) of the volume of trade in the country, therefore coming to Igboland is critical and a must for any Customs officer that wishes to succeed, assuring that the Customs service would come to meet with the state governments and trading partners mostly from the South-East to let them know that they are partners in progress.
He said one of the functions of the customs service is trade facilitation, interacting with the traders, educating them and developing a strong synergy between the customs service and its trade partners, adding that since the major trade partners of customs are from the South-East region, his administration would develop a mechanism where there would be regular interaction, to discuss issues of mutual benefits and also educate partners on the various laws of customs and its modus operandi.
For that reason, he agreed with governor Okorocha that it was necessary to cite a Custom Institute in the state and also help the state realize her dream of having a functional international Cargo Airport, assuring that he would send his men for proper assessment of the airport to know when to act.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
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