Nigeria’s Customs Staff College will serve other African countries
Penultimate week, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi, in company of a number of other top brass and aides, conducted some journalists on a tour of the Customs Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, which is nearing completion. BOLAJI AKINOLA led the visiting journalists, capturing the ensuing snap interview with the Customs boss for Ships & Ports.
What is the purpose of this college?
If you look at these structures, you will find out that there is nothing one can look for at international level that you will not get here. The reasons for the college are: one, to build the capacity of my officers to international standards in tune with modern times and, two; to cut costs.
Any resource person from any part of the world can teach here, can be accommodated here, because the facilities here are of international standard. You can see for yourself what exactly is in the school: e-library, internet, WiFi.
You can browse within the confines of the college. We have gym. We have a clinic of international standard. So it serves the dual purpose of building the capacity of my officers and to cut spending on foreign training.
This institution can be use for retreat, by other government agencies and can also be used for research because the environment is conducive for that. And don’t forget this school has been adopted as the regional college for West and Central Africa Custom administrators and beyond that now the secretary general of World Customs Organisation is coming during the Policy Commission in fact he is going to adopt it as African College. This means any nation within the African customs administration can come and learn here and work on any research.
If you look at it now, the computer pool we have serves both French and English. So it is dual purpose, so on that basis already the school has that international touch.
Will the college be a degree awarding institution?
We are in close contact with my brother Professor Okojie, I visited him once and, in fact, he even offered the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission. I have met with him. In fact, the very day he saw us he was very happy and we discussed on this issue that in fact he called two professors, and then he said we should work directly with them. We are working on that. Honestly, there is no basis why the school cannot be a university because we have room for expansion.
Let me quote Kwame Nkrumah, he said it is only he who has knowledge that will give out knowledge.
You see what is there now is that I believe Nigeria has come of age. It is not what we are giving or what we should do. We should be creative. We should do things that you know posterity will judge us. And that is exactly what it is, because leaving this thing behind … I am now representing the Comptroller-General of Customs, at least, for this, I can be remembered for what I have done for Customs with my management.
Apart from this, there are many things that actually we are doing. Don’t forget we have the best printing press in Nigeria. It is coming up, probably next week. It is in Karu, here in Abuja. The printing press will be commissioned by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. It is the best printing press in Nigeria. As that, at least, even our security documents like security certificates can be printed there; we don’t have to give anybody to do it for us. It is has a security feature; whatever you want, it will give you. It is fully computerised and automated.
How do you intend to maintain the facilities and will the college fund itself?
In the maintenance of the college, we would not put much burden on government for the maintenance. We have facilities that people can use and pay a token. We will use it to expand and to maintain the college. I believe that charging for the use of these facilities is not unauthorised.
What is the cost implication for this project?
I tell you I was challenged by contractors that bided to build this college. Some bided for N15 billion, and some N20 billion. But I want to assure you that this college, everything you see, including furnishing, is approximately N3 billion. I did it myself. I am the contractor, because I’m here every Wednesday. It was direct labour; I use my builders, engineers, surveyors, electricians etc. We only had a consultant engineer who came to supervise the project.
The only thing is that the furniture was contracted to a Nigerian company. That is the only thing that was from outside. And I’m going to continue with direct labour to cut costs.
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