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I will keep making positive impact on revenue generation — Abdullahi

The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service(NCS) Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko recently took time off his tight schedule to interact with Ifeyinwa Obi in his office at the Custom Headquarters Abuja. He tackled several issues, including the issue of Improved revenue generation and the squalid living condition of the officers in the service.
Excerpts:
You have spent 100 days in the office as the Comptroller General of  the Nigerian Customs, how has it been?
You will recall there is an on-going re —organization in the Service that places premium on capacity building. A  new human resources development department has  been the pivot of our drive towards increased professionalism. We have  placed  equal  emphasis on discipline and integrity in the performance of our duties. Welfare of officers and men will be accorded priority while we shall consolidate on current efforts towards e-customs to ensure faster customs clearance in our ports.

Customs officers are in a uniformed service and cannot be politicians while in uniform. Low  morale could be attributable to a number of factors. It’s my belief  that the enhanced welfare package we are working on coupled with the training programmes targeted at improving professionalism will boost the morale of officers and men.

Also revenues could be compromised either by the importer or possibly through the collusion of both parties. We have  tried  to look at the issues holistically. We are reviewing our procedures to make it increasingly difficult for revenue parasites to do business. We are also starting e-remittance to CBN this month, to ensure that no customs duty collecting bank plays any funny game with revenue collected.

We have also set-up the customs duty investigation teams in Lagos and Port Harcourt to expose duty evaders and their collaborators. We have discovered under payments to the tune of N12 billion, out of which we have recovered over N5 billion. We have also acquired two bell helicopters, four bullet poof vans and 155 patrol vans for the service.

What manner of reforms should Nigerians expect to see you bring to the customs bearing in mind the enormous challenges facing the organisation at the moment?
Like I said earlier, capacity building is important. The service will embark on massive training and re —training to sharpen our skills and enhance our efficiency.

We shall be counting on the support of the Federal Government and other relevant stakeholders like the service providers, the World Customs Organisation, the World Bank and other well-meaning Nigerians to help us out.

As a take off point, the training of the first batch of  300 officers on ICT in a bid to build a new customs that is I-T driven has taken off in Kaduna. We are organizing a similar exercise for 700 officers in the Lagos and Port Harcourt areas.

As we approach the end of the contract period with destination inspection service providers, the Service has commenced training programmes to equip our officers with the required skills to take over the project. Presently, about 100 officers are undergoing training in scanning machine maintenance. This is in addition to the basic Asycuda course that is ongoing at the training colleges involving over 1500 officers.

What was the revenue target given to the Nigerian Customs Service in this year’s budget and how much of that have you met? A follow up to that is what are the impediments to meeting these targets?
Our 2009 target is N 650 billion. So far ,we have collected a total sum of N 224,269,518,899.34 into the federation account and  152,647,368.81 into non federation account….


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