By Godwin Oritse
THE Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has said its recruitment exercise has been stalled by the coronavirus, COVID-19, crises. Its spokesperson, Mr. Joseph Attah, said that the Service has put the exercise in abeyance and that no one should talk about it again.
He said the unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 has put a temporary halt to the Customs recruitment. Recall that the NCS had on April 17, 2019 opened its portal for the recruitment of 3,200 officers, but nearly one year and one month afterwards, the exercise has not been concluded.
Since the exercise began, candidates who applied for the job have lamented the delay and also alleged secret recruitment and corruption in the process, but NCS has always refuted allegations of corruption or secret recruitment involving the officers.
Recall also that a retired Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, who is also current member of the Senate, Francis Fadahunsi, had described the recruitment into the NCS as a monumental fraud.
Fadahunsi, had accused the Comptroller General of the NCS, Hammed Ali, of superintending a lopsided and illicit recruitment exercise, alleging that the Customs boss was using N1.6 billion for the recruitment of just 3,200 new officers.
The senator further alleged that the customs boss deliberately outsourced the process of recruitment and training, despite availability of requisite facility in the agency to carry out the exercise.
However, explaining why the Service delayed the recruitment process to our correspondent, Attah blamed the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic for the delay. He said the service would have completed the recruitment process if not for the outbreak of the pandemic.
He also expressed uncertainty as to when the service will finally execute the recruitment exercise.
According to him, “the COVID 19 has affected everybody, every organisation and even our person-to-person relationship; when there is a global situation such as this, it will naturally affect our plans. The recruitment exercise is a situation that requires a future answer which is in the hand of God, By now we shouldn’t be talking about recruitment”.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Nigeria Customs Service said it had shortlisted 162,399 candidates for an aptitude test as part of its recruitment exercise which began in 2019.
About 828,333 candidates had applied into the Service, with the shortlisted candidates representing 19.6 per cent of the total number that applied for the recruitment exercise.
And the Customs spokesperson said on Friday, “for now, I can only say we could not release names of people for the interview, because of COVID-19 and you know that’s the reason”.