By Charles Kumolu & Ifeyinwa Obi
At present, pensioners have been made to pass through shabby treatments. SomeÂ slump and die on queues due to illnesses, hunger and fatigue.Â Â For instance, twenty people were reported to have died last year amongÂ pensioners ofÂ the defunct Nigeria Airways.
The critical part of efficient civil service everywhere in the world is the provision of adequate and unconditional welfare packages for workers. But thatÂ is not the case in Nigeria, as workers whether serving orÂ retired are usually left to fate .
In the face of this, political officials are beingÂ paid screaming salaries and allowances while workers and pensioners are being owed salaries and pensions. Sometimes, the packages are so lean, that they can barely cater for immediate needs.
For officers and men of the Nigerian Customs Service, this may not be the case, as they are set to witness better days. Disclosing this to officers and men of the service, Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, who was on a two-day working visitÂ to Lagos, noted thatÂ he would not relent in ensuring better welfare packages in order to improve efficiency in Lagos. And this played out at Apapa Area Command where fourteenÂ out of forty sixÂ newly promoted Comptrollers were decorated from their former ranks of Deputy Customs Comptrollers.
â€œWhen we came in, we inherited two manners of debts. We have earmarked N550 million for the payment of all these officers.
The only thing that has so far delayed our efforts in this regard has been the insufficient records made available by the retired officers,â€ he noted amidst admiration by officers and men. Dikko nonetheless, called on retired officers to show up at the headquarters to update their recordsÂ as to enable the Service off-set their payments.
On how the payment would be made, he said,Â â€œWe are making e-payments. And that means that the Service must confirm that records in respect of accounts are up to date andÂ Â authenticate the accuracy of names ofÂ beneficiaries submitted by officers, where applicableâ€.
In addition, he cautioned that having achievedÂ Â hundred percent salary increment for his men, officers should desist fromÂ smugglingÂ orÂ assisting smugglers to evade duties.
â€œWe have sent a proposal to the government in respect of required boats to do the job, but the boats are costly,â€ Dikko noted.
Continuing he said,â€œWe have just come back from a visit to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Dubai to see Customs operations in those places. We saw some of these boats there, but they are very expensive. We already have sent some proposalsÂ to the government; and once we receive their support in this area, we will beef up our attacks on the smugglersâ€™ operatingÂ on our waters.
â€œBut in the meantime, we shall continue to improve onÂ our strategies so as to reinforce the effectiveness of our operationsâ€.
Dikko also visited the Seme command which he once commanded and arrivedÂ amidst cheers fromÂ officers and civilians in Seme.
While addressing officers and men of the command, he instructed that illegal road blocks should be dismantled to ease obstruction of goods and services.
â€œThe road blocks are thereÂ because the importers want to cut corners and customs is trying to checkmate it. Be it as it may, any illegal road block should be dismantled because it is not legally approved by government,â€the Customs boss noted.
While welcoming the CG, Aliu Gabriel, Comptroller in charge ofÂ Â the command revenue Seme said he has made tremendous efforts at generating revenue, even as he noted that Dikkoâ€™s administration has been fair to officerâ€™s welfare.