Nigeria Wins International Award for Fighting Corruption at Sea Ports

•Govt slashes cost of ship berthing from $150,000 to $20,000 per vessel

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Nigeria has earned an international award for fighting corruption from all fronts at the nation’s sea ports.

This was sequel to the collaborative efforts of the federal government with the private sector and a Civil Society group – Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) to curb corruption at the Sea-Ports.

This feat earned Nigeria and CBi international praise, the first ever, “Outstanding Achievement in Collective Action Award,” of the Switzerland-based Basel Institute on Governance.

Specifically, because of the joint efforts of the federal government agencies which included – Shippers Council, ICPC, DSS and the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the Technical Unit on Governance & Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR) alongside the CBi, through the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, (MACN); the cost of a ship berthing in Nigeria – often aggravated by unreceipted extortions – has now drastically reduced from $150,000 per vessel that arrives in the country to about $20,000.

This was made public yesterday, when a delegation of the CBi paid a courtesy call on the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the State House, Abuja.

According to the CBi co-founder, Mr. Olusoji Apampa, the success recorded was now attracting international reviews as countries such as Egypt, Ukraine and India are planning to adopt the, “Nigerian miracle” model to produce similar gains in their own ports’ operations.

The international award recognised the work of the Nigerian MACN, which created a real time-based Help Desk to resolve complaints and concerns of shipping companies as soon as they berth at the ports.

The Swiss-based international body recognised the initiative for the collective action where government, business and civil society have worked together for change.

This was made possible by the establishment and success recorded by the first ever, real-time Anti-Corruption Help Desk in Nigerian Ports, which instantly reports and resolves corruption-related issues.

The group further noted that since the federal government instituted the Help Desk in 2020, it has monitored just under 700 ships arrival to Nigerian ports.

The CBi told the vice president that, “this would not have been possible without your interventions.”

Receiving the delegation and the award on behalf of government, the vice president praised the CBi and the MACN, commending them for their efforts alongside federal government agencies, noting that the Buhari’s administration would continue to support initiatives that improves the business environment and economy in general.

“This is cheery news on our anti-corruption efforts,” a delighted VP said adding that what is required is to stay focused in the fight against corruption.

Osinbajo stated that the narrative on the imperative of integrity and fight against corruption has to be deepened, explaining that, “we need to get the attention of the young people also. This is something we have to do.”

Based on the Executive Order 001, ICPC conducted a successful sting operation in 2019 to support FG’s port reforms.

Then in December 2020, the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) comprising the Shippers Council, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, (ICPC) and the Department of State Services (DSS), was established.

In addition, the Nigeria Ports Process Manual (NPPM) was launched and the PSTT, led by the Shippers Council, was given the responsibility to implement and enforce compliance.

According to the MACN, before the PSTT was formed, there were 266 cases of demands for large, unreceipted cash payments by officials at the ports in the process of vessel clearance.

Such practice has now dropped to 128 cases following the establishment of PSTT in 2020.

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