For me, it has reduced tactically because the CG in his own way has instilled discipline and integrity into the officers. Not by bullying them but by educating them on the need to do the right thing. From what I have seen, the level of corruption among the officers is not like before. This is not to say it has been eliminated but it has been reduced tactically. It is no longer business as usual and both officers and agents are now more conscious in their way of doing things. Even the agents are no longer doing the usual thing they used to do before by giving officers money because they now declare the right thing unlike before. Now that the senior officers are no longer in the business of collecting from their subordinate, it has reduced collection of bribes from agents and agents are now educating their importers more on what to do. So the level of giving and collecting has reduced.
Yes it has reduced. It is not only because of him but the system which has been put in place as reduced the level of corruption. Before the new CG came, there has been changes in Customs system as they are now been perfected over time. It is good that he came when this system is being implemented. So with or without him, the system that has been put in place in Customs is working and the corruption level has drastically reduced. There are some certain things officers can’t do because it has to go through the system and if the system challenges that thing, it can’t go. If an agent input his entry in the system and did not declare correctly, the system will not allow it. In developed countries, things are working over there because the system is caging everybody. If such system is put in place here, the level of corruption will go down drastically and that is what customs is trying to achieve now. So it is not about the new CG, but his coming and body language has also helped in a way.
I don’t have the yardstick to measure whether it has reduced or not. But one thing I discovered immediately the CG pronounced that he is here to fight corruption is that it triggered up the chain of corruption again. He says the officers must do it right and it is like so many people were not doing it right before. So where the officers are supposed to give you a value of N10.00 for example, because the CG says, I’m here to fight corruption, they will on their volition increase it to N50 because they want to collect more money. So the level of corruption has been on the increase because of the so called fight against corruption. In as much as the givers are still giving and the receivers are still accepting, level of corruption will not go down. To reduce corruption in any system, there has to be a platform where all players will have their right but that has not been. Customs and other agencies do not have the instrument to fight corruption. The instrument is that which will allow for transparency and accountability. But when there is no platform for transparency and accountability, corruption would still be there.
Corruption is in every facet of the economy. But in the process of cargo clearance, the introduction of PAAR by the previous administration has helped in reducing the manual aspect of processing cargo but more has to be done in terms of automating all cargo clearance process because it is human contact that gives rise to corrupt practice. So, if an officer has spent 5 or 6 years at a particular point, for no reason should he be allowed to remain there. He should be moved to another place so that others too can bring their wealth of experience there otherwise it will lead to more corrupt practice.
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