Custom New AGC visits FTZs, to familiarise himself with the Zone’s operations.

Custom New AGC visits FTZs, to familiarise himself with the Zone’s operations.

 

There has been a serious re-awakening of the interest of the Nigerian Customs in the activities of Special Economic Zones in Nigeria. This is sequel to the recent deployment of officers to New Commands by the Controller General of Customs and the appointment of Mr. Augustine Chidi as Assistant Comptroller General in charge of Excise, Free Trade Zone and Industrial Incentives.

 

This portfolio is very critical to the development of the economy of any nation as well as protecting and developing local capacity. However, it needs experience and in-depth knowledge of operations of Special Economic Zones like Nigeria’s surviving Free Trade Zones. Thus, the newly appointed ACG  (Ex, FTZ, & II) has hit the ground running. He is currently on a tour of all Free Trade Zones in Nigeria to acquaint himself of the operations of FTZs.

 

The ACG led his team to visit the Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone in Rivers State where the regulatory Authority for all oil and gas special economic zones currently resides, the Oil & Gas Free Zones Authority – OGFZA​.

 

Incidentally, due to the less than 24 hours notice given to the OGFZA of the ACG’s Familiarisation visit, as was communicated to the Authority, the Managing Director/CEO Mr. Umana Okon Umana​ who was already scheduled for an assignment in Abuja directed his Management to receive the the August visitor with full courtesies and complements for such important visitor. Consequently, the Head of Operations / Technical Department, Mr. Adekunle Ajayi was directed to stand in for the MD/CEO.

 

Upon his arrival and reception, the ACG declared that he was there on an Inspection visit not a Courtesy or familiaridsation visit. Fair enough, he was conducted round by the Authority’s management in the company of the Customs Area Controller for Onne who has also just resumed following his deployment to Onne.

 

Incidentally, because of the peculiar nature of Free Trade Zones which are technically deemed to be outside the Customs territory of the host country and the unusually short notice, it was not easy to do a detailed inspection as demanded by the ACG. However, the Authority availed the team with relevant information about Free Zones operations while details shall be provided. They were conducted round the facilities of some investors who were on ground and had to halt their operations to receive the ACG and his team.

 

Meanwhile, the team’s next port of call is the Calabar Free Trade Zone which is regulated by the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority  (NEPZA).

 

There is need for serious operational harmony on the modus operandi of Special Economic Zones between government agencies and stakeholders in order for Nigeria to realise the full benefit of these zones.

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