June 17, 2009

Succession tussle hits Customs again

By Godfrey Bivbere
About two months to the retirement of Bernard Shew Nwadialo, the  Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the tussle for who replaces him has again sprang up with top officials of service lobbying top government officials for the position.

Unlike previous tussle where those in the rank of Controllers join in the race of the succession of a servicing Customs boss, the Committee set up by government to reform the Service headed by Dr. Bello Mohammed, former CG of the Service at the recent public hearing on Customs held by the House of Representatives, ruled out the appointment of those below the rank of Assistant Comptroller General (ACG).

The fight for who takes over from Nwadialo Vanguard gathered is between two ACG’s who are of northern extraction and one Deputy Comptroller General (DCG)  said to have come from the south western part of the country.
One of the ACG who is alleged to be close to the first family was said to have been instructmental to the appointment of the immediate past Customs helmsman, Hamman Bello. The ACG a source in Abuja told Vanguard is not sparing any thing to ensure that he emerge as the next Customs boss.

The two others Vanguard learnt are relying on their links  to traditional rulers in the areas to help swing the tide in their favour. A source told Vanguard that there are others who are interested in the Customs top job but are not willing to stick their necks out like the three others are presently doing.

On the alleged exclusion of Controllers from the possible appointees as CG, a top ranking official of the service explained that it is not possible for the committee to determine who becomes the next Customs boss.

The source further pointed out that the appointment of a Controller would actually be an advantage for the Service, as such a controller would be able to stay long in service before retirement, especially when such officer performs creditably.

However, President of the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, said in as much as he wants government appointment of a competent officer who would stay along for the benefit of the country, the final decision lays with the government.

Amewiro who commended the present Customs boss for actions taken so far, noted that the Service has now been given focus.

Meanwhile, some other operators have blamed the current Customs helmsman for the sweeping changes of Area Commands which he made on assumption of office. These operators noted that the changes were affected for personal reasons as it has always been with the advert of new head for the Service.

They noted that Nwadialo did not only make the changes but actually promoted younger officers even when there are existing Controllers that could have been posted to the Area Commands.