Customs Boss, Dikko Inde Abdullahi
Amidst fears in some quarters that its men and officers lacked the requisite skills, experience and exposure to take over the operations of the three service providers in the nation’s seaports, airports and international borders by January 1, 2013, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has expressed readiness to assume full control of destination inspection (DI) across the country.
NCS’s commitment to take over the work of the three service providers came on the heels of President Goodluck Jonathan’s statement that Nigerians expect so much from the service over the imminent ending of the 7-year contract, which the three service providers signed with the Federal Government on DI, which ends on December 31, 2012.
These emerged at the ongoing 2012 Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) Conference in Katsina, where Vice-President Namadi Sambo represented President Jonathan as the special guest of honour.
The federal government had awarded a seven-year contract to three service providers to provide scanning and risk management support under the DI regime governing Nigeria’s international trade. The service providers are SGS Nigeria Limited, Global Scan Limited, and Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited (CDIL).
Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi, in his speech at the occasion assured listeners that all that is needed, including expertise and facilities, are in place for a smooth transition from the three service providers to NCS.
The Customs boss lauded government for what he called the “bold step in returning to the service to its statutory responsibilities.” He assured government, Nigerians and the business community that NCS would surely succeed in the task.
He recalled that at inception, his administration had come up with a six-point agenda, noting that NCS was on course in actualising the points. These include maximising the potentials of the service through capacity building; a moral re-birth to enhance discipline and integrity; and enhanced welfare package.
Others are consolidating on e-Customs; collaboration and partnership with other stakeholders and international organisations; and fostering mutual understanding between the service and the general public.
“The current level of the Customs service modernisation requires an enabling legislation in line with present day realities and challenges. It is in this regard that we acknowledge the efforts of the members of the National Assembly to review the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP 45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. We salute them for their vision and courage, and appeal to all stakeholders to understand and support the current efforts of the management to leave behind for posterity an enduring legacy”, he said.
He explained that the theme of the conference, ‘Borders Divides, Customs Connects’, was carefully chosen to highlight what the service would achieve through the Single Window project.
“The concept, which shall be the rallying point of our connectivity, will enhance trade facilitation and engender good working relationship with our relevant stakeholders such as NAFDAC, SON, NESREA, banks, shipping companies and licensed agents,” he said.
Jonathan, who was represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, at the occasion hailed NCS for the theme of the conference, which he said was appropriate in view of the service statutory roles in terms of border trade.
He advised NCS on the need to network and constantly exchange information with sisterly agencies, while collaborating and synergising with both the local stakeholders and international players if the service must meet the challenges and demands of the present day cargo clearing, especially in foreclosing the importation of high risk items, in the international supply chain.
Stressing the need to leave no stone unturned in the bid to prioritise the nation’s security in the performance of its trade facilitation task, Jonathan said: “I therefore urge you to use all the facilities at your disposal, to ensure that it is done”.
He stressed the need for NCS to go the extra mile in encouraging the legitimate export trade, as additional means of boosting revenue from sectors outside the oil and gas industry.
He hailed Abdullahi and NCS for the clear improvement of its revenue generation efforts, noting that the government was glad that the service had swiftly moved from its usual N30 billion revenue generating capacity of three years ago, to the present N100 billion monthly.
He however tasked them strongly to assiduously work towards eliminating the lingering notion of corruption through a zero-level tolerance for sharp practices, highlighting that NCS must identify and remove the bad eggs still in its fold, faithfully abide by the sound principles of good management and absolute transparency by weeding out its corrupt officers and men whose attitude had given NCS poor image.
“You must doggedly abide by the sound principle of good governance which encapsulate transparency and integrity” he said further, stressing that government expected Customs to generate revenues without allowing the security of the nation to be compromised”, he said.