The Federal Government over the weekend sacked the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) from the ports and recalled the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), four months after issuing a statement that sacked the NAFDAC and reinstated the NDLEA to the ports.
According to Tribune, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in February 2018 had issued a statement signed by its General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Abdullahi Goje, that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has directed that the NDLEA alongside seven other agencies which included NPA, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security (DSS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), and Port Health should have physical representation at all port locations in the country.
Findings further revealed that in the NPA statement of February 13, 2018, the NAFDAC was not listed among the eight agencies authorized to operate and have physical representation at all ports location in the country.
However, in another contradictory statement issued on May 2, 2018, the NPA stated that the Vice President and Chairman of the PEBEC, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has directed that the NDLEA should not come near the ports because only the NAFDAC and seven other agencies which included the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS); Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Nigeria Police Force; Department of State Security (DSS); Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and Port Health are allowed to operate and have physical representation at all port locations in the country.
That the February statement omitted the NAFDAC and listed the NDLEA among agencies allowed to operate inside the ports, while the May statement omitted the NDLEA and listed the NAFDAC among agencies allowed to operate inside the ports, is causing confusion among stakeholders operating inside the ports.
Speaking to Tribune Online exclusively, a freight forwarder, Donatus Agu wondered why the NPA is speaking from both ends of the mouth concerning the numbers of agencies allowed to operate from the ports.
According to Donatus Agu, “How do we know who should be inside the ports between the NDLEA and the NAFDAC? In February, the NDLEA was listed as among the agencies to operate inside the ports while the NAFDAC was sacked.
But now, the NPA has issued another statement in May saying the NDLEA should stay away from the ports while the NAFDAC should be in the ports. The whole scenario is confusing. I suspect power play here.
“Most of these agencies will go to any length to remain inside the port. The power play is intense. Most of these agencies are piling pressure on the decision makers to ensure they remain inside the port. That is why in February, NAFDAC was sacked, and in May, recalled back to the ports.”
Another stakeholder, Femi Adeshina, a clearing agent wondered why two NPA statement should contradict each other within four months. ‘Is it that NPA don’t keep records or that they don’t check their previous statements? Why issue statements that contradict itself within four months. It’s indeed confusing,” Adeshina stated.