By Godfrey Bivbere
A maritime expert, Chief Asu Beks has called on the federal government to approve a N100 billion infrastructural development fund for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Asu Beks who decried the neglect of the second highest revenue collecting agency of government, said that most of the infrastructure for the Service are either dilapidated or just manageable and therefore stressed that this makes it impossible for the NCS to function effectively.
Asu who made the callÂ in Abuja at the recently held Customs Merit Award organized by Maritime Media Limited, pointed out that the working condition of the personnel of the Service is â€œpatheticâ€.
Beks said that the salaries and other entitlements of the Service personnel should be at per with their counterparts in Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), etc.
He noted that while an Assistant General Manager (AGM) in NPA collects about a million naira a month, their counterpart in Customs (Customs Area Controllers) gets less than N250, 000.
He explained that the seven percent being given to the Customs on revenue collected should be on all the monies raked into government coffers.
Explaining the need for improved package for the Customs, the Maritime Media Limited boss pointed out that tax collectors the world over are not generally loved and that is why government must ensure that officers and men of the Service get better insurance package as a booster for their morale.
The Managing Director ofÂ Maritime Media Limited, said but for the intervention of the current helmsman of the Service, Dikko Inde Abdullahi who have helped in alleviating the working conditions of the personnel, they (officers) would have continue to live in penury.
He said the Service is in dare need residential and office accommodations, up-to-date patrol vans and modern arms and ammunition to be able to effectively combat smuggling across the country.
He noted that the present management of the Service under the leadership have been able to lighten the working condition of officers and men in the last eight month that he assumed leadership of the NCS.
He gave some of the achievement of the leadership as 199 percent increase in the salaries of personnel, provision of bullet-proof patrol vans, renovation and construction of new barracks.