By Godfrey Bivbere
An indication that the leadership of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, are disillusioned with some of their officers emerged last week when the representative of the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), described some Customs officers working at the border as “useless”, living their official duty in pursuit of their personal interest.
The Customs boss made this remark at stakeholders’ sensitisation workshop in preparation for the implementation of the Nigeria-Benin Republic joint automation of cargo clearance portals aimed at faster trade facilitation and prevention of alteration of trade documents.
The representative, Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, ACG, in charge of Information Technology, Benjamin Aber, made this remark while responding to questions on the activities of officers and men at the Seme border post that is affecting trade facilitation.
He also noted that “the other issue is the suffering of Nigerian traders, what they go through. Our Customs is the same problem that they go through on the other side.”
Responding to the question, Aber stated: “Agreed that some of our officers are very useless, they disregard their responsibility and take on personal issues and we as managers cannot shy away from taking the bull by the horn by making sure that such tendencies of working outside the system are stopped and be brought to order.
“We can assure you that as we are talking here, it is on camera and it is on record that the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Benin Republic are single-minded in bringing this to an end because if we do not address this, it will kill us.”
The visibly angry Aber stated further: “Why are people migrating to European countries? Why can’t we sanctified our own environment and make people want to come in? So we must first and foremost address our shortcomings and take the bold step.
“We disabuse ourselves, there is something I always tell my officers; there is something you cannot take away from an individual, that is self-correction.
“So now we are now self-correcting ourselves to build that desired trade environment so that instead of running to Europe to trade, we will be coming to Benin and Nigeria, preferable be doing your business in the Benin Republic,” he noted.