Maritime Expert Applauds Customs Capacity Building Initiative

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A Lagos-based maritime expert, Prince Olusegun Ologbese has applauded the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on its capacity building initiatives.

He also hailed NCS for the steps it has taken in recent times in addressing the hitches in the cargo clearance chain thereby reducing drastically the cargo dwell time (CDT) in Nigerian ports.

Ologbese stated that the readiness of the NCS High Command to address the hitches in the cargo clearance chain informed the recent flurry of activities in the Customs formations across the country, especially the ones situated in Nigeria commercial nerve centre, Lagos.

According to him, the hands of NCS were full with many activities including senior officers’ visitation to Lagos Custom commands. The first group was led by Deputy Comptroller (DC) Yusuf, the second group headed by Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) Charles Edike, the Commandant of Custom Staff College, accompanied by trainees and a colonel in Nigerian Army and a third group headed by ACG Abbey, the officer-in-charge, Information Communication Technology (ICT), NCS Headquarters, Abuja showed that the service takes the capacity building of its personnel seriously.

Speaking with THISDAY at the weekend, the maritime expert noted that the move showed that Customs was desirous of putting a hitch-free system of operations in place so that cargo dwell time (CDT) in Nigerian ports presently said to be high by a recent World Bank Report is drastically reduced.

Ologbese, who is also the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ogbese Marine Services Limited, stated that the development and improvement of NCS particularly the new introduction of NICI2 was a plus for the service.

Describing it as “very helpful” to NCS and the stakeholders because of the simplicity of the operations, he pointed out that NICI2 does not give room for deceit as it exposes the licensed customs agents and the importers involved in the cargo clearance chain.

The maritime expert, who is popularly called Alaye for his vast experience of NCS operations over the years, said the NIC12 would not only ease business in the nation’s seaports but also yield higher revenue into the coffers of the Federal Government.

Ologbese, who is also the Life Patron, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Ondo/Ekiti Councils expressed delight with the strides made by NCS since the appointment of Colonel Ibrahim Hameed Ali (rtd) as the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC).

According to him, NCS has taken trade facilitation, revenue generation and anti-smuggling campaign to a new height since the appointment of the retired military officer as the helmsman of NCS.

He however expressed regret at the increase in the number of officers and men killed by smugglers in their various encounters with smugglers and other criminals across the country.

“In spite of the hazardous nature of their job, there is no good welfare package for customs officers and men. Their salaries and allowances have not been increased. It is a pity that the government is not doing enough for them. Hard work deserves reward. As I am talking to you, some officers and men have been in the same rank for more than seven years while those with the rank of DC and have gone for promotion interview are have been waiting for the past one year. This is not good for the image of the service”, he said.

He enjoined the CGC to take a second look at the challenges bedevilling the service and address them for better performance in the months ahead.