It has been three years now since the Presidency issued the Presidential Order on the Ease of Doing Business, but the initiative has failed to meet its objectives as Nigerian importers have continued to patronize ports of neighbouring countries leaving the Nigerian ports.
On May 18, 2016, Nigeria’s then acting President and current Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, signed an executive order on transparency and improving the business environment in the country. It contains far-reaching initiatives to be implemented by government ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, to ensure easier access to information, processes and documentation, as well as promote efficiency in public service delivery.
The Executive order recorded a performance score of 40 per cent across its five main planks namely transparency, one government, default approval, entry experience of travellers and visitors and port operations. Vanguard Maritime Report gathered that due to the frustration in the cargo clearing process and procedure as well as transporting goods from the port to its point of destination, most importers still use Cotonou port in the Benin Republic.
Speaking on this development, the president general, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, confirmed that these investors have shifted to neighbouring countries like Togo and Benin Republic where the business is booming due to the deplorable condition of Apapa roads and maltreatment of dockworkers in the Nigerian ports.
Lamenting the labour situation in the maritime industry, he stated: “We have three modes of remuneration for dockworkers, we have time-related wages, payment by tonnage and we have permanent employment. “Those are the new agreements that we have now for all dock workers. So it would have a side effect on them. And you see that is affecting us because most of the investors have shifted to neighbouring countries like Togo and Benin Republic. The activities there are booming as a result of our bad roads”. Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr Kayode Farinto, said that the initiative was a total failure at the ports adding that the heads of agencies at the ports particularly the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS frustrated the initiative. Farinto stated: “The initiative was successful at the airport but it was dead on arrival at the ports because Heads of agencies at the port frustrated it”.