By Bayo Bernard
On Friday September 14, three top officers of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS alongside the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria, took flight ET900 from the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from where they eventually connected a five-hour hectic flight to Beijing.
The officers who were on the trip to the People’s Republic of China, are Aminu Dahiru, coordinator Zone A of NCS, Muhammed Uba Garba, Area Controller of Seme command and Comptroller Baba Abdullahi Musa, Controller Tin can command.
The customs officers would later spend the next one week visiting some major tourists’ cities such as Shanghai Yangshan port, Shenzhen, Shanghai Customs and China largest Overseas Construction Company, CGCOC.
Other places visited by the officers include the popular Tian An Mien Square, the Forbidden City etc.
It’s not clear the reason why the Customs’ management approved such an expensive trip at this time, particularly at a period when the President Muhammed Buhari’s government has somehow put a lid on foreign trips and training for government officials in the country to conserve the nation’s foreign reserve.
Meanwhile, the magazine learned that the trip was strategic to Nigeria’s to strengthen the rising trade relations with the communist country.
Just few weeks ago on September 5, China’s Commercial Consular to Nigeria, Hong liang Gao, stated that the value of trade between Nigeria and China has grown to all time high of $7.2 billion. The Chinese diplomat stated that the value of trade will grow more over the next decades.
Nigeria has lately been importing most consumable goods, machinery from the People’s Republic of China, the magazine was told by trade experts.
The President Buhari’s government has also in May this year Signed a $2.5bn Currency Swap deal with the Chinese government, in what trade experts described a move to further strengthens trade relations between the two countries.
The volume of trade between the two countries is likely to triple to at least $30b within the next four years, the magazine learned, therefore, “the federal government is putting everything in place avoid the shock” from trade explosion with China, said Okon Joseph, an economic expert in Lagos.
“What this means also is that the Nigerian ports will continue to be flooded with Chinese goods, whether we like it or not. These are cheap and mostly consumer and households goods coming to Nigerians from China.
“Most countries are now shifting focus away from Europe and America to China, which will mostly likely overtake the United States of America, as the world largest economy in the next 50 years” Joseph said.
He said the Nigerian Customs Service is being prepared to be able to handle the volume of trade from China.
Meanwhile, a top customs source informed the magazine that more batches of senior customs officers, from the rank of Deputy Controllers will be sent to China for training to study the Chinese trade system, while the Chinese government is also expected to do the same, as part of the bilateral trade agreement signed by President Buhari with China during his recent trip to the country.
He said the two controllers of Seme and Tin can command made the first trip because of their strategic positions as major gateways to the country, that Comptroller Abubakar Bashir of Apapa command was meant to be part of the trip to China, but was later dropped because” he just resumed duty at his new post and needed to settle down,” the source said.
Recall that early this month President Buhari attended the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), at the end of which the Nigerian leader signed $328m trade deal with China. Ali, comptroller general of customs was part of the federal government delegation.