Ali paying lip service to better salaries – Customs officers

Hameed Ali

Some officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have accused their Comptroller General, Hameed Ali, of paying lip service to the issue of enhanced salary and better welfare package for them.

The latest agitation by the officers is coming following a recent approval for implementation of the 2018 salary review for officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, as contained in a circular dated 10th October 2018 and signed by the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Babatunde Fowler.

One of the officers who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY on condition of anonymity wondered why Customs officials could not enjoy the same benefits as FIRS officials despite the fact that both agencies have recorded increased revenue generation and are under the Ministry of Finance. 

The officer, who expressed disappointment over officers’ condition of service three years after Ali’s appointment, said they are tired of failed promises, even as he accused the Customs CG of pursuing a personal agenda.

He said, “The tactics is to ensure that money unspent is remitted back to the Federal Government so as to collect 10 percent as his personal incentive at the end of the year. He has not embarked on any capital project since his assumption of office.

“If Ali, who is closer to President Muhammadu Buhari than Babatunde Fowler, cannot do anything about our salary increment for the past three years, then it means something is fishy. Both agencies are under the Federal Ministry of Finance and we are generating revenue for the government. 

“We are appealing that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. This is a save-our-soul appeal that we are tired of three years of failed promises by Ali. He is just playing politics about our salary increment.”

The officer noted that given the NCS performance so far in the area of revenue generation, the issue of salary increase should have been addressed long before now to motive officers.

“Officers’ moral are down. More than 35 officers have lost their lives through smugglers’ incessant attack. Many officers have been dismissed for wrongdoing but the diligent ones are not encouraged.

“This year, the Service has generated up to 80 percent of its N1trillion target. We generated N140 billion in August alone yet no increment, no allowance. All we see is cosmetic committee. Lip Service has been the order of the day since his three years in office. Officers are disappointed in Ali and his management team,” he added. 

It would be recalled that the NCS, had in April this year, set up a nine-member committee to review the salary and allowances of its officers.

Part of the terms of reference of the committee is to benchmark the Customs salary with that of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), review the reports of various committees on salary increase and present a draft letter to the Chairman, Salaries, Income and Wages Commission seeking approval for the review of the NCS salary and allowances.

The committee, which was given two weeks to submit its report from the date of the circular, was headed by the Principal Staff Officer (PSO) to the Customs Comptroller-General, Brigadier-General Buhari, I.

Nothing has however been heard of the committee’s assignment since inauguration. Customs image maker, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah did not respond to telephone calls made to enquire about the issue.