By Lubem Gena
A call has been made to the heads and operatives of regulatory agencies to wake up from their slumber and face their functions frontally so as not to stifle the Nigerian economy.
This call was made by the President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, CON., SAN while making his presentation at the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) conference organised by the Delegation of German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DGCCI) held in Abuja today.
According to Prince Kayode, Nigeria is not competitive because the regulatory environment is dysfunctional and made to be too hostile to the business community.
“We are not competitive because our regulatory environment is not working. From my experience as a business lawyer for 27years and went into government for about 5 years and back to business in the past 8 years now.
“I have been involved in different levels of business such as agriculture, a bit of mining and a little bit of manufacturing; agro-processing as well as a Chamber administrator, I know these and I feel it. I know the challenges.
“What I want to say is that there are key organisations that are affecting business. Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and some secret ones like the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). FIRS can collect tax. But what about the roadblocks on our roads everyday.
“In every year you must get your tax clearance which is free in principle. But who has ever gotten a tax clearance free here? I have never. You have to pay. They are called alternative payments. And you have to get all kinds of clearance from bodies like PENCOM, ITF and all kinds of compliances.
“These are roadblocks the agencies are putting on the way and for you to skip over them, you have to pay some alternative charges or whatever it is called. All these add to your cost and you are not competitive.
“With all due respect to top government officials who are trying to justify border closure. There is nothing like border closure so far as we are concerned. It is a joke. This is because we know we have porous border because they were artificial creations of the colonial masters. That’s one. Two, These borders are not properly manned. Three, we know is extensive movement in and out and there is smuggling going on.
“We know that only about 10% of our borders are manned leaving the 90% porous. So which border are they closing?
“We have to reform the customs and make them know the weight of the work they do and the impact on our economy ditto the other agencies”, Prince Kayode strongly advocated.
Earlier in his speech, the Head of European Union mission in Nigeria and West Africa, Mr. John Taylor said there are several complacencies in the system that needs to be strengthened in order to develop the economy.
Mr. Taylor also said the Apapa port which is supposed to add impetus to economic growth has failed to do so due to poor infrastructure, lack of basic equipment and corrupt system have dealt a big blow on the country’s efforts to develop its economic potentials.
Also speaking, the Executive Director of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Mr. Segun Awolowo said, the systems in the Council have been strengthened with the aim of optimally performing its assigned statutory duties.
According to him, all critical agencies carrying out functions that aid their operations have been integrated into the modus operandi and technology is driving same.
Mr. Awolowo was represented at the event.