Comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Abdullahi Dikko Inde has explained how the restoration of the dignity of the NCS has translated into increased monthly revenue collection from N30 billion when he took over office, to the present N100 billion.
According to Dikko, a holistic approach to the wellbeing of the Service, its men and officers was set out and captured in the 7-point agenda he adopted upon assumption of office with a view to restoring the Service’s lost glory, position it to effectively discharge its responsibilities and permeate best practices comparable to what is obtainable in other countries of the world.
Comparing the NCS of today to the NCS he met when he took over in 2009, Dikko, in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, said: “I inherited low-morale officers – very disorderly and with zero attitude to work. It was like one found himself in a classroom of people who didn’t understand A or B and you have to teach them afresh how to do things correctly.”
As part of the rescue intervention, he said that he immediately requested from the Customs Board, which is headed by the finance minister, a department of human resources for workforce overhaul. In addition, he said, he sought the help of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and other customs administration, like India, Canada and France to come to Nigeria’s aid, adding that they all gave positive responses.
“Before my appointment, there was no human resource department, but today, out of the 17,000 workforce, I have been able to train 12,830 so far and the process is ongoing. We also looked into the issue of motivation in terms of salaries and allowances, and their salaries were increased by 100 per cent to motivate them to do their jobs well,” he said.
He added that other incentives like provision of uniforms and staff buses for transportation to and from work were also provided in addition to a housing scheme for different levels of officers.
The CG said that the Service has so far purchased 400 Hilux patrol jeeps equipped with communication gadgets and 5,000 AK47 rifles for anti-smuggling patrol and border security unit. The customs boss stressed that technological advancement in the Service such as the e-payment, e-remittance and e-declaration of goods has further helped in achieving increased revenue collection.
“You know, before now, the Customs Service was synonymous with corruption, so my goal was to cut off contact between the customs officers and the importers such that, from your house, you can make your declaration through the internet, make payments and get your cargo released without seeing the customs officer.”
Dikko, however, regretted that some bag eggs in the Service still drag its name in the mud, noting that some officers were yet to embrace the new system of doing things. He recalled a recent incident where five officers were arrested and paraded on television for breaching laid-down rules by attempting to extort the sum of N150, 000 from a motorist in the name of customs duty.