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Date Published: 07/21/10

Nigeria Customs Service and A New Vision By Sani Tijani

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In the next couple of weeks, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service would have spent one year in the saddle as the numero uno of their organization. When you see the indentations of a person, you would have known whether he will make a good leader or not. Can he inspire? Can he motivate? Can he galvanize faith? Is he visionary? Is he focused? All these are sensible reasonable traits of good leadership. Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde is a good leader.

          Though he came in as the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service amidst controversies and blackmail – These did not shake him. He started off by promoting deserving officers and men of the service. In any organization, in any department when you give workers and staff a cause to appreciate their worth by promoting and elevating them to deserving positions, they will work hard. Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde strove hard and received approval to promote these officers and men to those positions they looked up to. Then, he recruited 5000 officers and men again to cover the short fall in the workforce. He went ahead and received a Federal Executive Council approval to purchase 120 units of houses in Kuje Federal Capital Territory for his men. These are besides continuing renovations of Barracks in Kano,Gowon Estate in Lagos, the Customs Barracks in Okokomaiko along Lagos-Badagry Expressway. If you promote any serving officer and give him accommodation his headaches will reduce.

          Now in capacity building, training, retraining have been embraced totally. To this end, officers have been directed and instructed to own one laptop each. Those of the rank of comptrollers have gone to Pittsburgh, in USA, and Toronto, Canada to have a grasp of clearing procedures and other nitty-gritty of trade facilitation. Six thousand officers in all were sent for training within and outside the country.Those sent abroad are meant to learn how others approach customs operation,their mode and attitude to workWhen they come back,they are expected to pass what they might have learned to their colleagues.In addition,there,there are thirty comptrollers slated for other special courses in same Canada..

          Additionally, service providers have intensified training on scanning at the ports and other places that such duties occur especially how to use the DTI café what Risk Assessment Reports and all that CIS are all about.. Still in terms of logistics, he has acquired two Bell helicopters and two state of the Art Armored Personnel carriers to combat smuggling.The helicopters will hover around the borders.The aircraft have visual aid gadgets which could be monitored from his office.They can coordinate with the ground team to effectively control smuggling activities. New vehicles numbering one hundred and seventeen were purchased and allocated to comptrollers.  Peugeot 406 is for comptrollers are 407 for Deputy – Comptrollers Generals.

          In fact, the Comptroller – General of Nigeria Customs Service has detached from the ugly name the service had. He has created harmony and understanding from the top to the bottom.

          Through determination, demonstration and close monitoring the clearance no matter what the agents would say has succeeded.

          Sometime in April, this year 2010, a sample of opinion from ten comptrollers in various commanders poured encomiums on style of administration as vibrant. They singled out his humidity and hard work as exemplary.

          By making sure the welfare of the workforce the World Customs, Organization has noticed his pragmatic Leadership. To this end, he was elected as the Vice-President of World Customs Organization. The election was in recognition of his achievements especially the computerization of the Nigeria Customs Service.  In Brussels, Belgium for the first time, since his ascension to the leadership of the Nigeria Customs Service on 18 th August last year, he participated actively. The World Customs Organization Council is the higher decision making organ of customs activities worldwide and it meets once a year.

          The session while meeting in Brussels, was preceded by a meeting of the WCO policy commission.

It gave Nigeria, the opportunity to become the new Vice Chairman of the World body. This followed his election as the new Chairman of the West and Central African sub-region, South of the Sahara during this last WCO sub-regional meeting in Bamako, Mali.  This is not a mean achievement at all. What dominated discussions at the meeting are on-going efforts by customs administration to adequately response to the challenges of the global economic meltdown and capacity amongst customs personnel. Other members of the Nigeria delegation that accompanied  the customs Boss were Mrs. Adegoke, Deputy Comptroller – General, Daniel Jatau Manasseh, Julius Nwagu, Tahir Nusa, all Assistant – Comptrollers-General, and Bello Liman, Comptroller in the Comptroller- General Office.

          Within the past one year, the customs Boss has visited Hong Kong, China, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to encourage and learn global best practice in customs Management and administration,  In one of the interviews he granted a paper he was quoted saying “we had lessons to learn from their robust risk management system, marine patrol and joint border co-location concept”.

          Investigating revealed that in the first quarter of 2010 alone the revenue generated by the Nigeria Customs Service surpassed by N29 billion Naira. In June,2010,the service generated N48billion.This was reported by Peoples Daily,Monday July 19,2010,page 21.

          Above all, in December last year the Leadership Newspaper awarded the Nigeria Customs Service most improved leadership award of the year, six months after the appointment of Alhaji Dikko. Not long after the Comptroller General was given another award by Maritime Media Limited. There are other awards which time and space do not permit.

          Be that as it may, there are many good things the current Comptroller-General has done in the past twelve months. From 18 th August, 2009 to 18 th August, 2010.

          The face of Nigeria Customs Service is changing. He had to demote a comptroller to assistant Comptroller for high-handedness. While driving from Daura in Katsina State to Dambata in Kano State, monitoring activities, three officers were sacked and dismissed for mounting illegal road blocks. This; he did say on a British Broadcasting Corporation News programme recently, Alhaji Abdulahi Dikko Inde as an individual is a disciplinarian. He does not tolerate lackadaisical attitude to work. He is a team player, above everything he is humble. When you are humble, the thing will just fall into place. When you are transparent and patriotic, the things will work out correctly and properly. Nigeria Customs Service of today is a paving a new vision – a vision of hard work, determination, transparency, discipline and focus. To conclude, I will round up with this news item from National Life Newspaper, Sunday, June 27, 2010, page 51

Cotecna Support Customs Staff, pursuit to fulfilling its commitment to education in Nigeria, Cotecna Distributing Inspection Limited (CDIL) a trade security and facilitation company who renovated  a four classroom block and donated amenities worth about N10 million to the Customs staff primary school in Kano. The gesture was made to upgrade the school infrastructure and facilities to provide pupils with a conducive atmosphere for learning. Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, managing director, Cotecna Nigeria, Tayo Rabiu said, their resolve to make this donation was informed by a key principle to making significant contribution and partnering with other stake holders to enhance sustainable development of the communities they operate. This is a symbol of harmonious working relations with stakeholders, partners, agents, and others that relate with Nigeria Customs Service.

          Something is happening in the Nigeria Customs Service that has never happened before. Watch discreetly and observe meticulously, this new management is different from others that preceded. From quantum revenue generation to anything else – there is a remarkable break – a unique transformation is taking place silent gradually and systematically.

By: Sani Tijani, No.18 Ibrahim Babangida Way, Maitama, Abuja FCT, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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