Some aggrieved senior officers of the Nigeria Customs Service have raised alarm that the Service under the Comptroller General, Hameed Ali-led management is suffering over his failure to address the issue of welfare and training of personnel.
The officers spoke against the backdrop of claims by Ali that he was working to put NCS on a training pedestal where the capacities of officers and men would be well harnessed.
Ali had recently in Abuja said he would want to be remembered for putting the NCS on a ‘ pedestal of fast development’.
But a Comptroller of Customs at one of the commands in Lagos who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation by the Customs high command, faulted the claims of Ali, saying he has done nothing to fast track development in the Service.
Noting that there are no concrete structures in place that will serve as Ali’s legacies, the officer accused Ali of killing the Service as the Customs management does not show they are interested in building capacity for officers’ but only to generate revenue.
He added that officers also lack decent and adequate accommodations as well as good health care delivery system as the existing ones were built during the tenure of the late former CG of Customs, Abdulahi Dikko.
He said, “It is unfortunate that the Service under Ali is suffering. There are no concrete structures that will serve as his legacy. He said he would like to be remembered for fast tracking development of the Service but that is not true. There is nothing he has done to fast track the development of the Service; rather he has killed the Service because there is nothing like training. Officers are not being trained, they are not being updated on the job because there is lack of training and retraining unlike it was during the late former CG’s tenure, Abdulahi Dikko, when officers were trained locally and internationally. How would you develop your personnel when there is no training?
“On the issue of welfare, it is not just about remuneration. It also involves insurance, provision of hospitals, accommodation and transportation. Officers do not have adequate and decent accommodation. There is nothing to show for the office accommodation because they are still the same as they were in those days. Nothing has been done in that area and unfortunately, the Deputy Comptroller Generals around him are not telling him the truth. Whenever the CG hears anything about revenue, it pricks his ears because the President said he should go and increase revenue but Customs is not just mandated to collect revenue, there are other roles we are to play. Even before he came, revenue targets were being met. What is it that he has done that is so new? What difference has he made?
“There is a need for trade facilitation and security of the nation through anti smuggling and for you to do those things, you must put some structures on ground that officers will leverage on to do their work and that would be the legacy. Officers can come and go but those things will remain, that is the mark of leadership.”
Another senior officer also accused Ali of favouritism in postings to major commands, saying that his dream and that of his colleagues to rise to the top of their career has been cut short because of the politics in Customs.
He said, “They destroyed our destiny. The dream to rise to the top of our career has been cut short because most of us are going to retire in the next two to three years and that will be the time he (Ali) will be going. So you can see the unfortunate situation we find ourselves, but we have taken it in good faith.
“There is politics in the Service. The top management have their own people and if you don’t belong to their syndicate, you will not be part of it.”