Controversy is trailing President Goodluck Jonathan’s alleged extension, by two years, of the tenure of the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi, with the Director-General, African Maritime Development Initiative (AMDI), Elder Asu Beks, joining the debate.
Quoting sources at the Presidential Villa, Asu told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY last Friday that there had been no correspondence either from the President or the Minister of Finance on the issue of extending Abdullahi’s stay in office as Comptroller-General of Customs, as alleged.
According to the AMDI boss, the purported extension of tenure was simply “a ruse.”
The AMDI boss said that the “Customs High Command should stop peddling rumors of tenure extension” for the Customs chief.
“Nigerians should not be made to believe that the position of Comptroller-General of Customs is tired to a particular section of the country,” Asu said, even as he accused the Customs Headquarters of allegedly being “an accessory to the act”, having, according to him, given tacit support by so far no reacting to a full-page advert by a trio congratulating Abdullahi on the alleged extension of his tenure by two years.
Yesterday, Sunday, August 18, 2013, marked the four years in office of the incumbent Comptroller-General of Customs, the number of years that have over time become the seemingly-standard tenure for appointees of government parastatals, except if aborted or renewed, following the trend of the tenure of elected officials of government.
However, there are indications that Abdullahi’s tenure as Customs boss may have been extended by the Federal Government by two years.
As at press time, there was no official confirmation of the matter by neither the Presidency nor the Federal Ministry of Finance, which oversees the NCS.
Similarly, the Service has not been forthcoming on the matter, as in a fashion that has been rubbing journalists the wrong way, yet again, the Customs National Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller Wale Adeniyi, failed to respond to both calls and text messages to his MTN mobile phone number.
Curiously, the only public evidence of the alleged tenure extension for the Customs chief is a full-page congratulatory message in a newspaper yesterday.
The advert, bearing his bold picture in uniform and the name “Alhaji (Dr.) Abdullahi Dikko Inde (CFR), Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service”, was signed “Your Friends Dr. Randy Brown, Alhaji Usman Bawa, Arc. Green Markson”.
The publication read: “Congratulations to the Great Man For the 2 years extension in office APPROVED by the President, Dr.Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR. This extension attests to the stuff you are made of. Ride on Sir, you are a man amongst men, officer amongst officers. Nigeria appreciates your good work. Ride on great man!”
It would be recalled that the Chairman of the House Committee on Customs, Sabo Mohammed Nakudu, recently said that the office of the Comptroller-General of Customs is not subject to a fixed tenure.
Nakudu’s comment came against the background of recent moves by desperate lobby groups to force the President to remove Abdullahi as Comptroller-General of Customs, on the grounds that he would be four years in office on August 18, 2013.
Nakudu had said in Abuja that neither the 1958 Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) currently governing the Service, nor the provisions of the Customs and Excise Management Bill 2011, fixed a limit on the tenure of the Comptroller-General of Customs.
“The appointment, tenure and removal of the CG is purely the decision of the President,” he said.
It would also be recalled that the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recently expressed satisfaction with the on-going reform programme of the NCS.
The Minister, who commended the NCS after a meeting of the Customs Board, disclosed that, in a few months, the Service would take full charge of all its responsibilities.
“I think from what I hear that it’s going relatively ok, it’s not easy. I don’t think there’s any organisation that goes through a transition period without some pains. I think the Customs is handling itself fairly well and I count on the CG to ensure a smooth transition. And it’s only a couple more months, two three more months and customs is in charge. So I am sure that everybody is gearing up,” Okonjo-Iweala said.