The governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano once again assumed the role of conscientious leader who is worried about the issues that affect Ndigbo as a nation when he convened a meeting to foster greater understanding between traders in the entire South East and the Nigerian Customs Service.
The meeting which took place at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia at the weekend featured round-table discussions between the leadership of all the traders in the entire South East region under the aegis of the South East Amalgamated Traders Association and the comptroller of Customs for Enugu and Ebonyi States, Mr. Kashim Ajayi, his counterpart for Imo and Abia, Mr Titus Ako and comptroller of Zone C, Mr David Dimka.
The meeting was Governor Obiano’s timely response to a save-our-soul message from the traders who complained bitterly about the hardship unleashed on them by what they considered a combative stance of the Nigerian Customs Service against traders in the South East region.
Setting the Agenda for the dialogue, Governor Obiano observed that the seeming face-off between the traders and men of Nigerian Customs had imposed avoidable hardship on the traders leading to the destruction of many income streams and the death of many burgeoning businesses that would have stemmed the growth of unemployment in the region.
He urged the Nigerian Customs Service to take a second look at the situation with a view to ensuring that the baby is not thrown away with the bathwater as it would lead to more families being severed from their breadlines.
He assured that his administration was finalising arrangements for a training session for the traders that would equip them with the basic knowledge of the intricacies of international business and the basic rules of importation to minimize possibilities of misunderstanding between the two groups.
Governor Obiano also advised the traders to always engage the services of the banking system in order to follow the duly approved means of cash movement in international transactions instead of going through licensed bureau de change operators.
In their separate remarks the comptrollers of Enugu and Ebonyi States Mr Ajiya and
Mr. Dinka of Zone C, Owerri, explained that the Nigerian Customs Service was aware of the involvement of Ndigbo in commerce and fully respect them for that. However, they maintained that the role of the establishment was to enforce relevant government policies concerning the export and import business.
They unanimously gave their assurances that they would cooperate with the traders to ensure a better interface that would be beneficial to both parties and the economy of the country at large.
Governor Obiano however ensured that the two parties had a fruitful deliberations on a roundtable where the usual differences and animosities that had often blighted the interface between the traders and the Nigerian Customs Service were comprehensively thrashed out.