Firstly, the government should provide Customs with enablement equipment to work with. The issue of scanning machines has been in the front burner for a very long time and as long as the government has not done their bit by providing the necessary equipment and tools for the Customs to work with; their job will continue to suffer. Secondly, the welfare of the officers should be looked into by the government to ensure that they are well taken care off in the areas of salaries, allowances and insurance cover. Thirdly, the government should only recruit personnel that are properly educated because the job of Customs has gone beyond enforcement and use of rude force. Also, in-service training should be a must from time to time to keep them abreast of the changing technology and all that goes with it because the world is changing at a very fast pace and the mode of operations is now more of computerization. Furthermore, the government should ensure that Customs officials are professional enough to know how to do their job diligently without constituting nuisance to the people on the road. The idea of road blocks close to the seaport is a way of making people understand that Customs are not doing their job properly. For instance, if I open my container inside the seaport for Customs to examine them and after paying duty, another set of officers are stopping me to examine same container less than 100 metres away from the port gate, that is a way of indicting the ones inside that they are not diligent enough to do their job. I would suggest that the government put a stop to officers mounting roadblocks on the expressway. It is also not proper for a military officer to head a revenue agency like Customs because he may not understand the dynamics of raising revenue for the office, what Customs is doing mainly now is more of enforcement rather than their primary function of revenue generation and trade facilitation. So, the government should revert back to using professionals to head Customs.
Attitudinal change must come in as soon as possible because if the government is not careful, what happened to #EndSARS will be the case of Customs because they are acting beyond their mandate in the sense of killing innocent citizens, molestation and independent harassment.Their mode of operation is archaic and there is need for total reform in the Service before things get out of hand. The government should ensure that Customs officers stop adapting the military system in their mode of operation like using arms and ammunition. There is a need for strict measures to be put in place and to checkmate the excesses of the officers. I believe if the leadership is doing well, the followership will do likewise. Let the government not forget that the Customs Service is a trade related service which has to do with trade procedures, revenue collection and so on. Also, I will suggest that officers caught in any illegal act should be brought to book and dismissed from the Service and that is the only way things can be done rightly. The good officers should be encouraged to do better at their job by giving them incentives.
Government should put competent people with proper mindset at particular positions so that whatever they certified as right remains so and not the other way round. For instance, goods that were examined and released by a Customs officer are intercepted on the road by another agency because it contains something illegal, then it is not only the importer and agent that should be made to face the consequences, the officer who released the cargo should also be punished. Secondly, there is a need for automation and intuitive professional scanners and I know the government is capable of doing it because Customs operations globally now have gone beyond physical examination. Scanners should be installed at the entry point of every seaport and airport. Thirdly, there is a need for the government to improve the officers’ welfare. This will make them perform excellently in their job.
Government should provide sufficient professional scanners backed up with qualified technicians to handle it and Customs officers should be taught on handling of these equipment and most importantly, pay more attention to the training of image analysts to avoid the current situation where more often than not problems arise as a result of the inability of officers to interpret the images picked from the containers by the scanner. Henceforth, it should be mandatory that computer knowledge be made pre-condition for recruitment into the Nigeria Customs Service. The major cause of bribery and corruption in Nigerian ports starts from insincerity on the part of importers and agents in declaring the true value and contents of their imports. Hence, I will suggest that the government should ensure and put in place continuous orientation, enforcement of extant laws and interface with global suppliers and manufacturers. That will help in reducing incidents of false declaration.
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