Trade Facilitation/Revenue Generation: Tincan Island Port Area Command Deploys “Time Release Study Tool” – Comptroller Musa MBA.


…rakes in N117.839,418,332.16, as revenue between January-April 2020.
The Customs Area Controller of Tincan Island Port Area Command, Comptroller Musa MBA, and his management have clearly shown the resolve to continue deploying several measures to boost trade facilitation process in the area command. Recently, in an interactive session Comptroller Musa, held with some other stakeholders in his office, he said that the area command just introduced what is known as “Time Release Study Tool”, which is essentially a strategic plan aimed at determining the actual time required for the release and clearance of goods right from the time of arrival to physical release from Customs control.
At the interactive session, Comptroller Musa MBA, highlighted the fact that “Time Release Study” (TRS), is a strategic tool, meant to identify operational bottlenecks in the trade value chain so as to eradicate them. This he said, will make it easier for them to create an enabling environment for effectiveness and efficiency in the operations of the area command. He said the introduction of Time Release Study’’ (TRS) in their operations coupled with other strategies they had in place, significantly contributed to area been able to generate a total of One hundred and seventeen billion, eight hundred and thirty-nine million, four hundred and eighteen thousand, three hundred and thirty-two naira and sixteen kobo (N117,839,418,332.16 billion) between January and April, 2020. He said he was particularly pleased that this feat was achieved in spite of the current national health and economic crises triggered by COVID-19 pandemic. The revenue figure he said, shows an increase of over eleven billion over revenue generated in the same period in 2019 which amounts to the sum of One hundred and six billion, six hundred and forty-four million, six hundred and forty-three thousand, nine hundred and seventeen naira and twenty-five kobo (106,644,643,917.25) generated same period in 2019, thus reflecting a difference of Eleven billion, one hundred and ninety-four million, seven hundred and seventy-four thousand, four hundred and fourteen naira and ninety-one kobo (411,194,774,414.91). Whilst responding to issues bordering on challenges facing the command amid Covid-19, the Comptroller reiterated the readiness of the Command to ensure adherence and compliance with the extant protocols by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) towards containing the spread of the virus. He disclosed that prior to the outbreak of the virus, the Command had conducted series of seminars and awareness campaigns aimed at sensitizing the officers and men as well as other stakeholders on measures to adopt in dealing with the menace. These measures, according to the CAC, would be sustained even post-Covid-19 era. “Even at the outbreak of this pandemic when pressure, anxiety and general apprehension was the order of the day, the Command demonstrated resilience, sagacity and compassion in its approach to the novel Pandemic, such that tension was reduced from the psyche of the operatives and confidence was inspired which enabled them to attend to their functions without any fret or hindrances”. He said: "We use this medium to remind Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the numerous incentives by the Federal Government in the area of export to draw and attract the consciousness of Nigerians to the advantages in export trade,’’ especially at this moment when it has become compelling for the diversification of the economy for national development". While assuring that the command will continue to support and encourage the culture of compliance with fiscal and monetary policies, he promised a rewarding system for compliant traders. To minimize contacts with the public and other stakeholders, the comptroller said: `We have developed a framework and different layers for channeling of official complaints, including the Help Desk for speedy resolution of trade disputes. Efforts are also being made to ensure continuous stakeholder engagement and collaboration for the actualization of the joint responsibilities of creating business-friendly environments that will encourage trade and investments as well as boost the morale of stakeholders.
In spite of the challenges, the Command will not let down its guards in pursuance of its official mandate.’’ The Comptroller expressed his appreciation for the logistics support and advice from the Customs management led by retired Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd.) and also applauded the renewed commitment and zeal of the officers and men which is evidenced in the operational profile of the Command. He also acknowledged the collaboration and support of heads of security and regulatory agencies at the port, describing it asconsistent efforts’’ in supporting the Command to realize its statutory mandate.
My commendation also goes to the Maritime media stakeholders including print, electronic and online publications for their quality reportage of the happenings in the sector. I thank the stakeholders for their continuous engagement with the Command and I request the strengthening of this collaboration,’’ the comptroller said.

UCHE EJESIEME
Command Public Relations Officer
Tincan Island Port Area Command

SAHCO TAKES OVER BRITISH AIRWAYS GROUND HANDLING CONTRACT

The Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) PLC, a Public Limited Liability company, and a subsidiary of SIFAX Group has taken over the ground handling services of British Airways. By this development, SAHCO PLC will be providingPassenger and Ramp Handling services to British Airways at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

SAHCO has been able to attract and retain the confidence of British Airways due to the seamless, safe and speedy service delivery which SAHCO is known for prompting British Airways to move her Passenger and Ramp Handling services to SAHCO. The move took effect with the handling of the evacuation flight which occurred on the 8th of May, 2020.

British Airways (BA) is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, Headquartered at Waterside, Harmondsworth, near its main hub at London Heathrow Airport.

SAHCO is the only Aviation Ground Handling company that is present in all the commercially operated airports in Nigeria. In recent times, many foreign airlines have moved their aviation ground handling operations to SAHCO so as to enjoy being handled by a loyal and dedicated workforce who are well trained and whose integrity is undoubtable, delivering their activities in line with global best practices.

With constant investment in modern aviation ground support equipment fitted with the latest technology; a team of engineers that can build ground support equipment from locally sourced materials which is the first of its kind in Nigeria; a team that is versed in the best of Departure Control systems in the Aviation industry, World Tracer and BRS; world class warehousing services; unrivaled customer friendly service delivery in a safe, speedy and efficient culture; SAHCO treats its clients as partners.

In the same vein, Air France has signed another warehousing contract with SAHCO at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. This means SAHCO will provide Cargo warehousing service throughout the country for Air France. SAHCO has been handling Air France’s Cargo Warehousing inLagos and Port Harcourt which has influenced decision to include the Abuja operations due to their satisfactory first-hand experience.

The clients of SAHCO include the following; Aero Contractors, African World Airways, Air Cote D’Ivoire, Air Peace, Arik Air, Allied Air, Badr Airlines, Bristol Helicopters, Camair-Co, Caverton Helicopters, Dana Air, DHL Aviation, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines, Execujets, Ibom Air, Inter Air, Max Air, Middle East Airlines, Overland Airways, South African Airways, TAAG Angola, Tarco Airlines, Value Jet, Virgin Atlantic Cargo.

It is worthy to note that SAHCO is also the recipient of numerous awards both locally and internationally due to its quality service delivery in aviation ground handling operations in Nigeria. SAHCO is an RA3 and IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) certified company. These certifications make the company a preferred gateway to import and export to European countries and the world at large.

SAHCO, who is a member of the Airport Services Association (ASA), is an Aviation Ground Handling service provider involved in all the activities that takes place from the time an aircraft touches down on the tarmac at the airport to the time it taxis out to be airborne, to the delight of its customers and benefit of all stakeholders, utilizing state-of-the-art skills, procedure, equipment and facilities with a devoted workforce.

UANSOHIA   VANESSA ADETOLA (MRS),

MANAGER, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS,

SKYWAY AVIATION HANDLING COMPANY PLC(SAHCO),

MOBILE: +2348060758584.

E-MAIL:uansohia.vanessa@sahcoplc.com.

12th May, 2020.

The Imperatives of Improving Women’s Health

It is another month of March, and globally it is recognized as the women’s month and the theme of this year’s celebration –“Gender Equality” — is quite insightful and instructive. This means that the international community has come to observe and realize that there is a difference between the sexes. We know that an active person in need of equality should be healthy. This is what has inspired this article. What is health?

Health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) is a state of physical, mental, social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Women, by our very nature, are exposed to certain peculiar health issues which include but is not limited to our reproductive and sexual health; issues pertaining to pregnancy, child bearing, maternal mortality, complications in pregnancy, pre- eclampsia, eclampsia, stillbirth, mother-to-child transmission of diseases, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, abortions, cancers of the reproductive organs, un-consensual sexual activity, and many more.

There are also issues with other causes of death in men and women which tend to affect women more. Today, lung cancer is a leading cause of death amongst other cancers in women. Whereas smoking is a known predisposing cause of lung cancer, the incidence is three times higher in non-smoking women than smoking men. Estrogen, the predominant female hormone, may fuel cancer cell growth or interact with genes that boost the effect of carcinogens. This may be one of the reasons why the incidence is high and the prognosis in women is poor.

Other leading causes of cancer deaths are breast cancer, cancer of the colon and rectum, ovarian cancer, cancer of the cervix (neck of the womb) and cancer of the uterus. Other health matters include raised blood pressure, cardiovascular disorders, osteoporosis, anemia, diabetes, depression, dementia, urinary tract infection, and of course there is also poverty, lack of good education, and absence of a skill she can rely on to provide for her family. Unfortunately, not much is being done in terms of research into peculiar women’s health issues as their representation in the research area is limited.

The moves by the World Organization of Ovulation Method Billings (WOOMB) to bring the good news to Africa are welcome. At its recent International Conference in Cotonou, Benin Republic, the need to educate women about their reproductive health was reiterated. Here, women in all stages of life from menarche when they start their menstruation to menopause when it stops are taught how to manage their reproductive health by observing their body signs and interpreting the findings she has recorded in a chart. It is completely natural and has no side effects. By so doing, she learns to know her fertile and infertile time and to utilize it as the family would need. She is not restricted by breastfeeding or any preexisting medical condition. She does not need to do anything new but just to pay attention.

What can we as women do to stay healthy? The basic minimum we need to do are things that we probably already know, but are not paying attention to. They include but are not limited to the following:

•       To have regular health checks, at least twice in a year. This should include physical examination, a check of the blood pressure, lipid profile, fasting blood sugar, and the blood chemistry. Women over 40 years will need to check their eyes for glaucoma, bone mineral density, thyroid function tests, Pap smear every three years and more. Persons who are at a high risk of STDs will need to do tests for Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV. Your physician will help guide you to do the needful.

It is important that we each have record of our medical history especially if you are seeing a new physician. This summary will bring the doctor up to speed on our health, knowing our current and previous diagnosis, any allergies, and what medications we are currently taking.

•       We have to keep the body moving by doing regular, moderately intense exercise for about 2 – 3 hours weekly; our ancestors were not sedentary, they were hunters and gatherers. These exercises should make us sweat and get our hearts beating fast.

•       Our diet should be tailored to suit our state of health. Basically, we need to avoid processed foods, as they contain preservatives. We need to drink adequate amount of water as it cleanses the body and removes toxins. We should eat foods in the right proportions, rich in fibers, low in carbohydrates and fat.

•       To avoid excessive use of alcohol and recreational drugs, for obvious reasons.

•       Ensure we have adequate sleep especially at nights. I will not put duration to this. Sleep is adequate if we wake up refreshed, on our own without the alarm clock. Our bodies get refreshed in sleep as lots of healing takes place then. And the things we had learnt are filed away in our memory banks during sleep. So sleep is therapeutic.

•       Our day to day life is already stressful as we are responsible for nurturing our families in most cultures, we should therefore learn to minimize stress. When we feel overwhelmed by the events going on in our lives, we should pause, take a break and count five things that are going on well with us at the time and we will definitely find things to be grateful for. We need to learn to take one day at a time and to be grateful very small change.

Sometimes, we take up more activities than we can cope with. It is important to learn to politely, say “NO” sometimes. We may choose to say not at this time which means that we may be open to assisting at some other time.

Finally, I like to advocate that we learn to look out for each other as every little help counts. Happy International Women’s Month to us all.

“CARTERING TO PEOPLE’S WELLBEING IS AT THE HEART OF WHAT WE DO” – Comptroller Nike Oladunni, Customs Area Controller, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Area Command.

The year 2020 and its concomitant challenges and upheavals will go down in the annals of the nation as one crisis to too many as the coronavirus has unimaginably negatively impacted our world, our country and businesses with incalculable fatalities in terms of human lives and colossal economic losses.

Nevertheless, it is for this reason that I have continued to ponder on the theme of 2020 International Customs Day (ICD) celebration with the theme, “Customs Fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”, which is aimed at highlighting the actions that Customs Service all over the world is taking towards ensuring a sustainable future that caters to the social, economic, health and environmental needs of the people.

Inside Watch Africa (IWA) was able to pin down the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) Area Command, Comptroller Nike Oladunni, for her reactions and views on the theme of this year’s celebration. Her responses are as instructive as they are insightful as she let us into the activities of Customs Area Command at Kirikiri, Lagos.

Oladunni said:“ In my opinion the three main points we are examining in the theme of the International Customs Day, 2020: people, prosperity and the planet, are all encompassing because if we truly focus on and we are able to foster sustainability for the people, then we would have inadvertently fostered sustainability for prosperity and the planet at large. 

Again, looking at the theme, you will agree with me that catering to the wellbeing of the people is at the heart of what we do in Customs globally. Traditionally this theme must have been selected sometime early last year shortly after the celebration of last year’s edition of the World Customs Day which is usually celebrated on the 26th of February annually and it is as if the world Customs Organization knew that the Coronavirus will ravage the world this year as we are experiencing.

I have said this over and over again that to build a nation you must first build the people and to build the world, you must first build a nation. The way to go is to create an environment conducive enough for people to trade and prosper.

As a Customs Officer, I am fully aware that all these things are directly linked and that it is only healthy people that are truly prosperous.  Since the prosperity of the nation is directly linked to the prosperity of the people, I will not stop stressing the fact that importers and Customs clearing agents need to be compliant.

Their compliance with import and export regulations is pivotal to the success of the whole value-chain of any country’s maritime industry.  

For instance, when importers genuinely declare what they actually imported, it makes it a lot easier for us on our part to facilitate the smooth clearing of the cargoes out of the ports. 

Cargo clearance is essentially aligned to international best practices, thus compliant traders generally save themselves from unnecessary delays that may be occasioned by incessant queries at different stages in the clearing process because what was physically found after physical examination was different from what was declared. 

Apart from the negative impact false declaration can have on the economy of a nation in the short and long run, the people can’t afford to allow and should not allow anything they are not sure of into their country as this may expose the countty to some security or health threats and danger.

Nigeria is essentially an importing nation and since on a very regular basis new people are always delving into the import and export business, we cannot stop talking about the need for importers and their agents to be regulations-complaint for their own good in the long run and for the good of the nation in both the short and long run. 

In this Area Command, we constantly engage with all stakeholders, we deliberately allow them raise their concerns and we are always eager to attend to the legitimate concerns as promptly as possible.

As regards the Covid-19 pandemic, in this area command, we have right from the start continued to strictly adhere to all the laid down guidelines of the government. We have wash hand basins strategically placed in and around the area command. We are strictly observing physical distancing and I ensure that all my officers and men as well as everyone that has any business to do in this area command always wear face masks.

We have also drastically reduced human interfacing or contacts in the area command. People don’t really need to see anybody one-on-one to do their jobs as most of the things we do are online. However, if there is a query and a serious need to see any officer, we have advised traders to put their request in writing and they will be promptly attended to. 

The only time more people come together is during physical examination and I have instructed that physical distancing should be strictly observed, insisting that people do not have to cluster. Let me conclude by saying that we are so thankful to God that all the strategies we have deployed are working as we have not recorded a single incident of the Covid-19 in this area command and we shall not record by God’s saving grace.”

“I always ensure that everyone is on the same page”- Comptroller Olugboyega Peters, Customs Area Controller Western Marine Area Command.

Like the experience of most people, it is very unlikely to forget the year 2020 and its concomitant challenges and upheavals in the country and globally in a hurry. I had never imagined that anything could negatively impact our world as the Coronavirus pandemic has done. It is for this reason that I have continued to ponder on the theme of 2020 International Customs Day (ICD) celebration, “Customs Fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”, which is aimed at highlighting the actions that Customs Service all over the world is taking towards ensuring a sustainable future that caters to the social, economic, health and environmental needs of the people.

So IWA decided to take on some Customs Area Controllers in Nigeria on the theme. Their responses are as instructive as they are insightful. Comptroller Olugboyega Peters, the Customs Area Controller, Western Marine Area Command, Lagos, speaks on the efforts and activities of the Command in this challenging period:

Among so many other responsibilities and functions that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) carry out, we are the leading agency that collects the highest revenue for the Federal government of Nigeria, we lead the drive on the suppression of smuggling in Nigeria, and we also collect trade statistical data on behalf of the federal government for economic planning purposes. Without sounding immodest, you will agree with me that all these responsibilities and functions play a pivotal role in fostering socio-economic wellbeing and sustainability of Nigeria and Nigerians and also enhance their economic prosperity and the world at large.

The Nigeria Customs Service as a responsible member of the global Customs community has over the years, as spelt out by the World Customs Organization (WCO), continued to do everything it can to ensure a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs of Nigerians are well catered for at all times.

Although in this area command, we operate mainly on water, as it is obtainable in other area commands in Nigeria we also work closely with other government agencies such as the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), etc. to ensure a sustainable future that caters to the social, economic, health and environmental needs of Nigerians.

Therefore, it is easy for us, for instance, to seamlessly refer cases of illegal importation of arms and ammunitions to the Nigeria Police Force for further investigation. In the same manner, we regularly refer cases of substandard goods to Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and refer the ones bordering on foods and drugs to NAFDAC.

The Customs job is very dynamic in nature thus as the Area Controller, I ensure that all officers and men of this area command are constantly on the same page and whatsoever is done at the management level cascades down to everyone in the command no matter how low in rank the person may be. During our parades we pass information to everyone and very seriously too. I consider it expident to also state the fact that in-house seminars and trainings have become a tradition in the Nigeria Customs Service and this is to ensure that all officers and men of the service are frequently kept abreast of the ‘goings-on’ in the global Customs community.  

We have a robust strategy in place for the safety of all the officers and men serving in this command; one of which is that my officers and men know and would not go on patrol unless they are fully kitted in COVID-19 protective gears and life jackets. The cleanliness of the surroundings of the area command is also a top priority because we are fully aware that our wellbeing is directly connected to a clean environment.

“One of the surest way to having good health is cleanliness”.. – Comptroller Abba-Kura, Customs Area Controller of Apapa Area Command.

Like the experience of most people, it is very unlikely to forget the year 2020 and its concomitant challenges and upheavals in a hurry. I had never imagined that anything could negatively impact our world as the Coronavirus pandemic has done. It is for this reason that I have continued to ponder on the theme of 2020 International Customs Day (ICD) celebration, “Customs Fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”, which is aimed at highlighting the actions that Customs Service all over the world is taking towards ensuring a sustainable future that caters to the social, economic, health and environmental needs of the people.

So IWA decided to take on some Customs Area Controllers in Nigeria on the theme. Their responses are as instructive as they are insightful. On the efforts and activities of Apapa Area Command in this challenging period, Comptroller Abba-Kura, the Customs Area Controller of the Command has these to say:

IWA: Sir, what steps are you taking to ensure a sustainable future for a social environment in your Area command?

Abba-Kura: As you know, Apapa is the premier port in Nigeria, thus human traffic in and out of the Area command is usually very high. So to start with, the Area Command was designed and built to be well secured and ready for a lot of business activities. Now since I resumed here as the Area Controller and very conscious of this fact, I have continued to systematically build on and fortify both the human capital and physical infrastructures met on ground to ensure that whoever comes to do legitimate business in Apapa Area command will do it in a conducive and business-friendly environment. I have deliberately created a level playing field for every person/stakeholder that comes to do business here in accordance with world best practices. My officers and men also know that all stakeholders must feel welcomed to Apapa Area Command and their needs must be attended to with dispatch and as at when due.

IWA: What steps are being taken to ensure that the businesses of legitimate traders are sustained?

Abba-Kura: Like I said earlier, we make sure that there is a level playing field for every stakeholder that does business in our Area, we deploy every resources at our disposal and do everything that is humanly possible to encourage legitimate trade in this Command. Once declarations are done the way they are supposed to be done, definitely there will be no delays whatsoever and I, as the area controller, make sure that all mails that come to my table are cleared with dispatch and ensure that everyone down the line does the same.
Everyone knows that any stakeholder that has any issue at any point in the area command is free and always welcome to see me and I make sure that any complaint or observation is solved there and then and those that cannot be solved immediately, will always be referred to the Area Dispute Resolution Committee to look into it. Where a dispute is established, we make sure that the trade is facilitated either by the declarant bringing bank bond that is equivalent to the duty and other charges that they are supposed to pay and we release the consignment. And whenever that dispute is resolved, if it is in favor of the declarant, we write to the bank to cancel that bond and if the dispute is resolved in favor of the Nigeria Customs Service, we equally write the bank and the bond is converted into Customs duty and other related charges which is paid directly into the coffers of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria.

IWA: What measures are you deploying particularly during this period of Coronavirus pandemic to protect the lives of your officers and men as well as all stakeholders that do business in this Command?

Abba-Kura:Immediately the Federal Government swung into action through Ministry of Health and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), we followed suit. With the directives from Customs headquarters, we immediately provided water kegs with taps, detergents to wash hands and sanitizers. We placed one at the gate, then at the entrance of the Customs Processing Centre (CPC), leading to my office. We equally have electronic sanitizers stationed in and around the CPC. The Desk Officers at all the entrances leading to the CPC have body temperature monitoring devices to check the temperature of everyone entering the CPC. If somebody’s temperature is okay he or she is then allowed to come in and that is after washing their hands and sanitizing their hands. Everyone is also expected to wear a face mask before they are allowed into the CPC. This same measures are replicated in all terminals and bonded warehouses of the command.

IWA: What is the command doing to avert any environmental hazard ?

Abba-Kura: Health is wealth, and one of the surest way to achieving a good health is cleanliness, thus we make ensure that our environment is kept clean in this Area Command always. In some way, our duty as Customs Officers is like that of an Octopus. Apart from revenue generation and rendering account for what is collected, we equally carry out anti-smuggling; we make sure that all the things that are harmful to the country are not allowed to come in. Even if they find their way into the port we will make sure that they are detained, seized and eventually get court judgment to condemn them. Apart from that, we equally facilitate legitimate trade by strictly implementing federal government fiscal policies that will enhance the development of local industries. The federal government in its wisdom sometimes imposes certain taxes on certain imports that are equally being produced locally.  By imposing all these levies and taxes on those items, it will go a long way in making the local industries to grow and flourish. Our relationship with other stakeholders and sister government agencies is very cordial; whether it is NAFDAC, SON, NDLEA, Shippers’ Council, or the NPA. We are aware of the statutes that guide their functions, thus whenever they come around or they need our assistance to carry out their functions, we always make sure we render such assistance.

“We do everything we can to encourage compliant traders”. – Comptroller Aliyu Galadima Saidu, Customs Area Controller PortHarcourt Area II Onne Port.

The theme of the International Customs Day (ICD) 2020, is all-encompassing and people-centred. It is “Customs Fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”, which is aimed at highlighting the impactful activities of the  Customs Service all over the world towards ensuring a sustainable future for all that caters to the social, economic, health and environmental needs of the people.Unlike the previous years, 2020 is quite challenging for Customs in Nigeria and globally as it  has continued to operate in a distraught environment orchestrated by the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently ravaging the world.How has Comptroller Aliyu Galadima Saidu, the Customs Area Controller of Port Harcourt Area II, Command, Onne Port, been weathering the storm ? Inside Watch Africa (IWA) took him on and the interview runs thus:IWA: Sir, what steps are you taking to ensure a sustainable future for a social and stable environment in your Area command?Saidu: When I assumed office as the Area Controller of this command, it occurred to me that in order to deliver successfully on my set goals and mandate, I needed to collapse all 

unnecessary bureaucracies that could hinder all stakeholders from having free access to me, and I did. Then I deliberately reached out to all stakeholders, particularly heads of ministries, departments and agencies of government in the area command. In fact, we have become friends, and operate on a very cordial basis. It is for this reason that, although we all have different mandates, since we are from different departments and agencies, I have ensured that everyone feels a sense of belonging and we are able to effortlessly collaborate to achieve our set corporate goals. Whatever enquiry or assistance that is needed, a phone call can just be placed and the enquiry or assistance will be promptly attended to.IWA: What are you doing to ensure that the businesses of legitimate traders are sustained?Saidu: We are primarily trade facilitators thus in this area command we do everything we can to encourage compliant traders. In fact, without sounding immodest, I can proudly say that the turnaround time for clearing cargoes in this area command is probably the shortest when compared to all others in the federation. 

We have a conflict resolution committee whereby issues, protests are resolved within the shortest possible time and we are also lucky that some of our terminal operators, recently acquired modern equipment for offloading and loading containers. We also try to constantly sensitize the operators here on the need to be compliant and how cheaper it is for them in the long run when they are compliant.IWA: What measures are you deploying particularly during this period of Coronavirus pandemic to protect the lives of your officers and men as well as all stakeholders that do business in this Command?Saidu: Although, this is a peculiar time in the history of the world when everyone has suddenly become health and safety conscious but anyone that is familiar to this area command will tell you that from time immemorial we have always been a stickler to health and safety rules in this area command. Therefore, the sensitization campaign to play safe and stay safe is on ongoing and all our officers and men have been fully kitted with face mask and hand gloves, particularly the boarding officers that board ships and vessels, they are all fully kitted with PPE.Recently the headquarters sent us a lot of 

equipment for personal safety because our boarding officers board foreign vessels and because of the risks involved they are fully kitted. We also got a donation of some cartons of hand sanitizers, face masks and hand gloves from one of our terminal operator – WACT. Furthermore, we have reduced the number of officers and men in our offices, and we have also adjusted our roaster even before the federal government’s directive came up so that we have less human contact and visitors coming to our offices Except you have serious issues, we don’t allow personal visits into our premises and at all our entrances we have washing hand equipment and sanitizers. Recently, I just issued a port order on the compulsory use of the face mask. IWA: What is the command doing to take care of any environmental hazard?Saidu: Protection of the society and the environment happens to be one of the cardinal building blocks of modern customs worldwide. So even before the outbreak of the coronavirus, many years back, customs worldwide have been emphasizing on clean and healthy environment and that is why the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is fully involved in safety of the environment campaign. I must also say that we are principally mindful of the havoc that hazardous chemical can do to our environment; thus our “antennas’’ are up and we are always on the look out to prevent toxic chemical in any form or disguise from being smuggled into the country.  

“We tell and retell Positive Africa”- Yomi Badejo-Okusanya (YBO), President of African Public Relations Association (APRA)

Truth be told that we all have a major role to play in the way other people perceive us. It is said that “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception,” thus for Africa to achieve its full potential and take its rightful place in the world, she has a lot to do in managing how she is perceived by the rest of the world. Therefore, some members of the Inside Watch Africa (IWA) team, recently paid a visit to the President of the African Public Relations Association (APRA) – Mr.Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, also popularly known as YBO in his office in Lagos, Nigeria, to get a first-hand information on what 

(APRA) is doing to corporately manage the image of Africa.

Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya is a consummate public relations practitioner and the Group Managing Director of one of Nigeria’s foremost communication consulting groups, CMC Connect (Perception Managers).  With over two decades of work experience in the Marketing Communications and perception management industry in Nigeria and internationally cutting across Corporate Communications, Government Relations, Marketing PR, Financial Public Relations and Crisis Management, his work experience has seen him consult for many multi-nationals and national governments, such as the first woman elected President in Africa, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.
An alumnus of the Lagos Business School and a renowned facilitator, YBO is the current President of the African Public Relations Association (APRA), the umbrella body for the practice of public 

relations in Africa.

IWA: The world sees Africa as one, but unfortunately going by what is happening on the 

continent, Africa cannot be said to be united. I would like to know in specific terms what your association – the African Public Relations Association (APRA) has done over the years to foster this unity?

YBO: When I first became the Secretary General and then the President of the APRA, the first thing we did was to integrate ourselves into the African union, because until then APRA had no tangible relationship with the African union; we were more or less just talking to one another. We then realised that if we were going to be talking for Africa, we would have to work with the African Union. This we pursued to the extent that the first conference under my watch as Secretary- General was hosted in Addis-Abba as part of the 50th anniversary of the African Union. Since then, we 

have been aspiring to become registered as a consultative arm of the AU, and I must tell you that it’s a long process; moreover, African Union with due respect has its own challenges, there is a lot of bureaucracy, so it has been a long journey for us and now we are at the point where we need to register with a body called ECOSOC which caters for such registration. 

We have actually started the registration to a certain extent. ECOSOC functions as the think-tank of the African Union and it is what they put together that becomes a recommendation to the foreign affairs ministers which is then ratified by the heads of government in Africa. We thought that it was the best place to be, initially we were working with the communications department but because they were not a policy formulating arm of the AU, we had to start again… the process is still on. All our conferences have now been endorsed by the AU and we have had attendance from a very high level – at the Deputy Chairperson’s level. 

We have made presentations to them and we are even proposing that we have an office in the AU complex in Ethiopia. We believe that one of the biggest challenges Africa has is narrative, its reputation and right now it is about war, strife, disease etc., imagine the kind of dent it would have had on our image if the Corona Virus had sprouted from Africa like Ebola. Therefore, it is expedient that as PR professionals we are at the driver’s seat driving the narrative of everything the AU is doing to foster unity amongst member states. As things stand now the visions, aims and objectives of the AU are only known at the government level. 

For instance, in Europe, the impact of the European Union is felt by the average man on the street. That is not the case in Africa, the impression out there is that the AU is only a body of government technocrats and administrators and that impression must change for both the continent and the AU. We have started working closely with the operating arm of the AU known as the African Union commission in this respect and our goal is to positively reshape the narrative by selling “Positive Africa”. We feel that Africa has a story to tell or re-tell, and who best to re-tell that story other than the key story tellers who are in this case – the public relations practitioners.  

We have then given ourselves a mandate as PR practitioners across the continent to equip ourselves by knowing what is going on. Before now, all that we have was to just talk to ourselves, but now we want to, and are really starting to influence our key stakeholders (government, business, NGOs and foreign interests). 

We have also taken steps to put African Public Relations in the main stream of global PR agenda such that our conferences are now attended by the President of the Global Alliance which is the largest body in terms of  communication. In fact, I have been informed that our up-coming conference will also be attended by the President of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) and several other dignitaries from across the globe.

We have been able to push Africa into the mainstream of the global PR agenda and we believe that if we take all of these things collectively along with contributions from various stakeholders in the field of PR, we will become a global force to reckon with, and possess enough juice to drive our campaign effectively. A good example of what I am talking about is the Tokyo Olympics where we should have a clear narrative for Africa globally; to create a situation where we would be able to situate ourselves strategically in these world events and leverage opportunities presented to sell a positive Africa. 

IWA:The recent frosty relations between South Africa and Nigeria has been a PR nightmare for both countries and has resulted in some level of disconnection between 

them, and this is typical of relations between several African countries because certain complexities of the situation are only appreciated at top governmental levels. What is your organization doing as regards embarking on campaigns targeted at the young and people in the streets in Africa to promote integration, unity and better understanding at that level?

YBO: The fact that we are trying to make Africa one market is one of those key points and we believe that if this is put into place, issues like this will be significantly reduce. We strongly believe in the economic integration of Africa; it has been one of our cardinal goals. Africa should be an economic zone which by all standards be a force to be reckon with. There are suppositions that the young South Africans who don’t know the historical ties that binds the countries together, are of the opinion that Nigerians are taking undue advantages of them and the Xenophobia is their response to it.  It is said that the key issues are that they are of the opinion that Nigerians are taking over their businesses, and in some cases, their women, in some other cases the Nigerians are perceived as offering better services at cheaper rates, and of course, not ruling out the issue of shady businesses that some Nigerians engage in whether it is fraudulent practices or dealing in narcotics.

There is a need to understand that in the growth of an economy, these things are inevitable. What we are doing about it is accentuating our campaign on the need for economic integration in Africa, which will see Africa become one market and all varied interests become one. We are also advocating social integration as an effective tool and an integral part of our campaign to foster oneness in Africa which underscores our official slogan, which is “One Africa”.

IWA: There is some skepticism about the success of African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA). What do you think about this and what are the things your organization has done or is doing to ensure that the success story not only holds true, but is 

also obvious to these skeptics?

YBO:There is an African proverb which says that “if you want go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together”. It is time for Africa to go together, because its strength doesn’t lie in each market trying to solve its own problem, but in the integration of the continent as a single market. I totally believe in the concept of a ‘United States of Africa’, not in terms of political structure or leadership; I am not saying that one person becomes the president of Africa. I am advocating that we go as a one in our strength which is massive and in my opinion the only way to go. It is what has made Europe strong and definitely what made America strong, because technically, each state in 

America could easily be a country by itself, but they decided to come together to form one country – the United States of America, they have a common market, security, currency, army and purpose. All these make the USA very strong and the superpower that they are today. So I believe that this is the only way Africa can go, we should have some form of economic and political confederation under which we can all act as one because that is where the real strength lies.

Looking at it, the AU has not been as effective as it should be in this respect and consequently, whether by error of commission or omission they have not achieved the lofty dreams and goals set by the founding fathers of the AU – the dreams and visions of the likes of Haile Selassie, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, just to mention a few, have not been achieved, and for us to achieve these goals, it is imperative for Africa to operate as one. The pertinent question to ask is; what are the fears militating against achieving these goals? The logical explanation is once there is a change of status in life, there is always a fear associated with it. For example, if you are getting married, you will be afraid; if you are getting a new job, you will be afraid; if you are setting up a new business venture, you will be afraid. So I am not surprised that there is some level of apprehension as to working together, but I believe that once we put our hearts into it, we will begin to see the advantages. What this means is that this publication of yours (IWA) can go across 

Africa, the skills you have here you can actually be transferred to Zimbabwe or Zambia. Let me give you an example, look at the United Arab Emirates, there are about seven countries that came together and you can see how strong they have become, some are more prominent than the others, but collectively they are strong. If each one of them had decided to go it on its own, I am not so sure if they would have achieved all that they have. There will be challenges associated with integration and it’s not going to be easy, but I think that is the way to go. 

IWA:Africa has always been blamed for a lot of things it wasn’t responsible for because we do not manage our narrative around certain issues well. So do you think Africa has managed the narrative around the Coronavirus 

well enough to the extent of not getting the blame that isn’t ours and what step is your organization taking to make sure that the narrative is properly managed from the African point of view? 

YBO:The most critical thing we should do regarding the Coronavirus beyond us repudiating the origin as Africa is that we should save our people and this has to do with a lot of enlightenment that and a lot of advocacy around it. My greatest concern would not be avoiding the blame, we are clear where it has come from, and my worry will be the virus containing, managing, and stopping the spread because it is so devastating to the extent that it is stretching the resources and capacity to cope for the most industrialized nations of the world. 

If it were to be unleashed here, it will be more devastating. So what should we do now is to move into the world of enlightenment and advocacy which is what we have urged all our practitioners across the continent to do. It’s not the time to get fixated on the blame game; it is simply the time for all hands to be on deck to help keep all our people safe. So we have to enlighten our people how they can take care of themselves and how they can avoid the virus at any opportunity we have, even in cases of suspected infection, teach them what they should do to curb it. This becomes more significant when you realise that Africa has the least literacy rate across the world. So this thing only needs to get into some places where it is difficult to disseminate information and we would have a huge epidemic on our hands. Our most important task as PR practitioners in this situation should therefore 

be to ensure that we communicate, advocate and give counsel to, not just the people, but also the government. We should make sure that the government, the people and the private sector are doing the right thing and support them. Just last week it was reported that the Nigerian Senate President said there was nowhere in Abuja where people could be quarantined and thatis sad. I hope at the end of the day this thing will not snowball into something that will get out of control, and we will carry the brunt of this whole thing because while the Western world has managed to contain the spread of the virus, we have not done much work towards our own containment strategy; that’s where the problem will be for us if we don’t get our act together.

IWA: We are definitely over-dependent on China as regards 

trade and economic cooperation Iis it not time for us to focus more on becoming more independent in all that we do? 

YBO: For me, it is important that Africa has an industrial policy and if we already have one, it should be targeted at what and where we have comparative advantage. As a continent we still some deficiencies in the area of infrastructure thus we cannot but be dependent on the super powers like China at the moment because we have no choice. It is simple, they are strong and weare weak now, so we need them. As PR practitioners, what we should be talking about now is that there should be as a matter of urgency an industrial policy for Africa which is well articulated and distilled down to address Africa’s needs. For instance, let us assume that a certain number of new vehicles are needed yearly in Africa and there is an African industrial policy in place where a Toyota plant in situated in country A, a Nissan plant in country B, and another plant producing Renault in country C, all located in Africa, then we are looking at it as a total trade or policy concept in which the demand for new vehicles in the West African Sub-region for example, can be taken care of by a plant located in Nigeria, Benin or Ghana. In fact it would mean that Africa is capable of meeting its total yearly demand for new vehicles for all its regions by plants located in these regions which are a big economic plus for Africa as a continent. I think this again brings us back to the issue of re-engineering the AU which is of present more of a political union and needs to be more of an economic one. Consequently, I am hoping that the African Free Trade 

Continental Agreement will help address this and reposition the role of the AU to be seen more along economic lines rather than political.

IWA: You will agree with me that these are long and medium term solutions to the problem and we need to immediately activate the short term ones that will trigger the principle of comparative advantage and at least at the level of producing the food we eat. For instance, are we doing enough to promote the things we are currently producing locally such as local cuisines and apparels?

YBO: I agree with you that as a first step and an integral part of selling Africa, we need to also activate the same narrative at the very basic level of the economy and using your analogy, I would say that as Africans we must as a matter of urgency, build some African brand assets across the board. A few days ago, I saw a video clip which is popular and I am sure you must have seen it, it features somewhere in China that someone was asking for fufu and egusi… and who was talking, – a Chinese man. The truth is, where there is a demand, there is always an opportunity. So we cannot blame the Chinese for institutionalising the Chinese brand of food or restaurants. It is onus on us to build ours. I have only been to china once and I was telling someone the other day that the Chinese food over here in Nigeria is better than the one in China. They have succeeded in commercialising their food because they realised that there is a demand for it and that is what we must also do with our foods, drinks and wears. For instance, if you are from Ondo, the Asun (grilled goat meat) that is served there is so different from the Asun we now have in places like Lagos. The popular Asun we have now is parboiled, they will cook it a bit before grilling it, but for the original Asun, they grill it straight without any par-boiling, so the meat is tough and spicy because they baste or marinate it with raw pepper before grilling. Not many people are able to eat it, except for maybe someone with acquired taste like my late uncle who did not mind and even craves the spicy nature of the original Asun.  For you to understand what I am saying, my uncle is capable of eating Garri and raw red Pepper as dessert while he is waiting for his food to be ready. So, we need some strong African brand assets around these products, and those brand assets are what we got to develop from what we have. The truth is that nature abhors a vacuum, if we don’t meet our basic needs using the African brand assets we have developed, the Chinese or some other persons will come here and meet those demands using their own brand assets. These type of development has taken place with foods such as pounded yam in which you don’t really have to pound yam anymore, you could just pick up Poundo-yam, which is actually pounded yam developed, packaged and branded for our consumption, and there just like that you have your pounded yam on the go to eat; these are the kinds of development and initiatives that we should drive. The pertinent questions to ask ourselves are, – Should there be a fund for small and medium scale enterprises across Africa to fund these initiatives, to make the difference? Should we help skills acquisition or skills development contrary to the situation where many of us are 

just looking for university degrees, and consequently we don’t have enough of quality artisans or technicians or technical knowledge to develop our continent?

IWA: In PR practice we will always ask people what is core character that they need to drive their business. So I ask you what is the most important character trait that is expected of a public relations practitioner?

YBO: I would say the biggest thing is integrity of purpose. Because sooner or later if you fail in that area you have failed in every other thing and it will catch up with you. Some people mix PR with Propaganda. A Yoruba adage says “no matter how far a lie has gone or spread, the truth will always catch up with it.’’ PR is not about spin doctoring, it is about telling a story and that story must be based on truth. Which means in many instances that our clients and principals have not done well, we should own up to it. Integrity of purpose is the bedrock of PR practice. 

Emirates protects and prepares its all wide-body fleet

Dubai, UAE, May 6,  2020: While the world yearns to travel once again, meet and hug loved ones, seek new adventures and close those business deals, Emirates is busy protecting and readying the world’s largest all wide-body fleet to take to the skies. This could have proved daunting, but Emirates Engineering, a division of the airline and one of the world’s most technologically advanced aircraft maintenance facilities, has it all covered – literally! Ahmed Safa, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President Engineering said: “Emirates moves to a different drumbeat – one where the highest standards are absolutely fundamental to our entire organisational rhythm. Everything we do ladders up to ensuring the best customer experience and people feeling safe and reassured while flying with us. “That philosophy also extends to our Engineering team and how we maintain and secure our multibillion dollar fleet with the world’s largest number of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s. We don’t just cover our engines, but have a comprehensive aircraft parking and reactivation programme that strictly follows manufacturers’ guidelines and maintenance manuals, and we have enhanced standards and protocols of our own. “We also have the enviable challenge of a full wide-body fleet – 115 A380s and 155 B777s – and the most sophisticated systems and avionics in the industry. While a narrow-body aircraft only requires around 3-4 employees working for eight hours or so to cover it, our aircraft need 4-6 employees working a 12-hour shift. And taking extra precautions while maintaining social distancing adds its own interesting twist to the proceedings.” Of the 270 aircraft in its fleet, Emirates had initially parked and wrapped up 218 aircraft – 117 at Dubai World Central and 101 at Dubai International airport – that involved more than 15,500 man-hours of work. Now around 75 Emirates aircraft, both passenger and freighter, are crisscrossing the planet carrying people on repatriation and cargo on essential missions. These continue to be maintained as per standard operating procedures. Some aircraft are undergoing scheduled heavy maintenance in Emirates Engineering’s hangars. Routinely, Emirates covers all aircraft that are taken out of operations for more than 48 hours. Much before the pandemic, Emirates has had to cover a significant part of its fleet during the runway closures at Dubai International airport, and even during the 2010 volcanic ash cloud disaster that partially grounded the fleet. All apertures and openings through which environmental factors – sand, dirt, water, birds and insects – can find their way inside an aircraft are wrapped up and made watertight. That includes engines and air data probes – such as pitot, static, temperature, angle of attack sensors – engine intakes and exhausts, and APU intakes and exhausts. The interiors – whether cabin monuments, seats or inflight entertainment equipment – are also protected from the elements. Potable water systems and aircraft fuel tanks are preserved, and engine and APU systems are protected. The process also involves the greasing, cleaning and preservation of landing gear and flight control systems. The team turns off all cockpit switches, disconnects batteries, and installs control lever locks and window blinds. After concluding the protection and preservation works, the team completes periodic checks at 7-, 15- and 30-day intervals across the fleet. These can include simple walk-around inspections to ensure all covers are in place, and there are no visible damages or external leaks. Complex checks include removing the covers and reactivating aircraft systems, idling engines and testing engine bleed air and flight control systems. 

Album Release – Gorgeous Worship by Seun Ayeni GGG

Finally, the wait is over. Seun Ayeni fondly called GGG (meaning Gorgeous Godly Genius) has released a body of work we think is amazing.
According to him, the Gorgeous worship album project took him 3 years to complete, owing to the fact that it is an album of worship songs that need to have inspired messages, and you cannot rush being inspired, he says.

The 7 tracked album is a masterpiece and has since its release on April 12 been rated by brilliant musicians like Nosa, GT da Guitarman, Big Bolaji, Faze, K-Peace of the Nigerian Idol fame and so many others.
This goes to show that apart from being an inspirational piece, it also didn’t lack quality in terms of music.

Feel free to download using the link below: https://audiomack.com/album/theseunayeni/gorgeous-worship-1

or get on any major music store online.

Good thing it is free because the gospel is free, he says.

Follow @theseunayeni or @seusco on all social media, check out his YouTube page for brilliant videos made for his songs, or just simply go to seunayeni.com to get all you need about him.
Enjoy!