Interview With Madam Modupeola Aremu the New CAC Nigeria Customs PTML

The giant strides recorded by the new Customs Area Controller (CAC) Madam Modupeola Aremu on her resumption of office at the erstwhile notorious Customs Command, the Port Multi-Services Limited (PTML) is captured in this interview with the gentle amazon.

Madam Controller could you tell us your experience ever since you joined PTML Terminal?
I resumed in May 2017. When I got into PTML I found that it is a model port. PTML is actually a port that is supposed to be the standard f ports. PTML is actually the only port you can clear your goods in 24 hours. At times we do 6 hours for cars especially. I met the Command especially in these times of ease of doing business observing the 24-hour port operations process. I believe PTML is really on track.

We are now in August and we have gone past the half year quarter. Could you tell us what the revenue profile of this Command is?
Quite good. We acquired between January and June 2016 a total of N27, 479,713,697 billion. But in 2017 between January and June the Command recovered N40,748,536,281 billion; this shows an increase of 32.6 per cent.

Now Madam before you resumed here stakeholders in this Command had issues with the former Controller. I do not know how you have been able to manage the relationship with stakeholders.
I do not really have any problem with them. I told them when I assumed duty that integrity is the watch word of PTML. And integrity simply means you do the right thing when no one is looking. And they know that once they are compliant they get their goods out in little or no time. And every agent or importer now knows that goods are delivered on time. So the level of compliance has really  risen to a great level. We do not have any major problem with stakeholders.

Speaking of integrity we observed that you have increased the ethic standards of the Command and there is high compliance. However in times past the place has been known for what we call ‘document cloning’. What are you doing to suppress this challenge?
They know I am always on the system. I am always watching; and they sometimes say “Madam can you not do without trailing us,” and I respond “no.” So they know as soon as they are punching I am sending an alert signal to my officers just to guide them to do the right thing. All those days of cloning are gone. To a great extent PTML now is sanitized.
And the traffic situation here between Mile 2 and Tin Can is outrageous. And we believe that even if the road is fixed it might still affect adversely the PTML access road. What do you intend to do about this?
Really I cannot criticize government. But I know that a contract has been awarded and even in Apapa area repair work have started. Even  in the Coconut axis some patch work has been done. I am talking about the process it takes to get cargoes in here; the trucking in and out is another aspect of the process but it all adds to the value-supply chain. But we will really appreciate if ours roads were fixed. I know it has already received some attention. And we also need some illumination of all the access roads in the ports especially in this regime of 24 hours of ports operation delivery nobody wants to take his goods into dark areas where they might be attacked. But I know plans are already underway with the input of the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority Miss Hadiza Bala Usman to illuminate the ports access roads leading to the ports.

How do you go back and forth because there was a time 
we learnt  you come by boat and go by boat.

Yeah if everywhere is locked I will call on the PRO Mr. Mohammed Yakubu to remedy the situation. PTML has provision for boats which they avail us if we need assistance when the roads are jammed. The boat also transports officers to and fro the Command premises.

You resumed in May and we have not heard of seizures from PTML. Are we expecting seizures?
We only make seizures when there are refractions. If there are no refractions I just cannot seize because I want to make a name. We need to have a reason for seizing maybe for false declaration or they are importing contraband goods. This is why I said PTML is a model port. If you go through all our importations we do not have China vessels; that is Mearsk Line. Most of our vessels come from England and you know the British they are very compliant. In July 2017 we recorded N8.6billion compared to N6.3billion we were supposed to collect. So the level of compliance is very high. Coupled with the closure of land borders the throughput in cars especially is quite high.

So the closure of land borders aided the N40billion revenue acquisition?
Yes. For we have a lot of cars coming in.

How about training and re-training of your officers regularly. Do you embark on that?
Yes. We still talked about that (training) this morning. We just had a parade this morning and we talked about the “renewal of the mind”, ‘rebranding’ and “the new Customs Service.”  We talked about training and retraining and concluded that from next week we are going to start training sessions of say one (1) hour per week to avail ourselves of the new Information Communications Technology (ICT) techniques, the new opportunities in the ICT world and how to use that as an advantage to make work smooth and faster.

You have spoken well so far Madam, I noticed. However, on the issue of the Executive Order you have not talked about specific strategies you have employed to achieve the 24-hour port operations?
 I told you that PTML is a model port and we only examine goods between the hours of 12pm and 2pm. Our container traffic here is not high. At certain times we only clear 20 containers per day and everybody moves to his examination bay at once and they all come out at once. The officers examine together and come out together. Already I have emphasized that PTML is a model port because of what it is set to achieve: the 24 hour port operations, ease of doing business.   


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