There seems to be an impending job loss in the customs following the approval of $3.1 billion by the federal government to automate every aspect of the service revenue business.
A former comptroller general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hamman Bello Ahmed has joined the list of maritime stakeholders that have criticised the move, warning of its imminent danger for the country.
The ex-Customs CG, in a telephone chat with some journalists in Lagos yesterday, said the controversial customs modernisation contract will lead to massive job loss in the service.
Ahmed, who said about 70 per cent of the current workforce of the service will be retrenched if the contract should come into being, said the federal government should not expect that the concessionaires would retain the present work force of the service the moment the project kicks off.
Ahmed also lamented that the entire process which was shrouded in secrecy was in flagrant violation of the Public Procurement Act.
He said: “You don’t expect that the Concessionaires would retain the present workforce since the new arrangements would imply that officers would no longer be involved in revenue collection duties.”
The CG said, if the company that won the concession is also to generate revenue for the government, then, the revenue generating unit of the Customs service has been concessioned to foreigners.
“The contract document is not a public document but it is also the right of Nigerians to get the details of that contract. So, the federal ministry of finance or the Customs Service should come out to tell us what the details of the contract are. We should also know if the contractors are coming with their equipment such as scanners or customs which will be using the facilities provided by the contractor to generate the revenue or the company will use their own equipment to generate revenue for the government,” he pointed out.
He asked further that, “Is it the company that will be generating revenue on behalf of customs? If yes, then, the federal government has concessioned customs revenue generation unit to a foreign company.”
The former CG, however, said the revenue projected by the contractor to generate in 20 years is too meagre compare to the leakages the service has recorded in 10 years.
According to him, “Is it the money to be made for the total year? If it is for the 20 years period, then, it is nothing because the senate investigating committee had said that from 2007 to 2017, revenue leakages in customs is about N30 trillion.”