The resignation of the Comptroller-General Of Customs portend good because he has been there for over six years and he had to leave on his own honour for the greater good of Nigeria. You know power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely because we are getting to a point where industry stakeholders continue to get agitated over his policies. We had 2003 Act to the Nigeria Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) and in spite of the amendment of that act, Nigeria Customs still imposes benchmark regime or arbitrary system of duty assessment on imported cargo and this is one of the controversial directives given by the CG and of course his tenure marked some aggressiveness and overzealousness of some of his officers that they were not able to control this because there were cases in court bothering on overzealousness of some of his officers and Customs got to a point where they humiliated innocent Nigerians and charged them to court on frivolous charges and all of that.
It is good that he left though he did some reform we are seeing but at least he placed Customs activities on the front burner and some of the reforms we are experiencing today were introduced by his regime but I think it is ok that a government comes in and if you think you can’t work with him, you bow out. He has the opportunity of serving out his tenure but he has to bow out and that is good for him.
Well, he tried in his capacity as CG by introducing modern technology. He was good in one area and not too good in another area because we are paying more in Customs tariff and that has helped in sending Nigerian shippers away from this country so I will not say he succeeded. Though, he succeeded in setting up information technology but it is another thing in succeeding in keeping the shippers which he did not do.
Dikko impoverished clearing agents with most of his policies. The policies are anti-people that they affected our jobs. Also, his administration entrenched corruption because before Pre-Arrival Assessment Result (PAAR), there was no jacking up of duty but with PAAR, we have to bribe Customs officers in order to reduce our the duty.
He introduced some reforms and his policies generated money for the government no doubt but the truth is that he impoverished us as agents. Formerly, we had Risk Assessment Report (RAR) and that time they give normal duty rate but since the introduction of PAAR, they increase the duty rate. We thank God he left because his tenure was the most corrupt.
Dikko has laid the foundation and anybody that is appointed will build on it. The permanent thing in life is change and if the change is to the positive, then it is a welcome development. What I am expecting on whoever the mantle falls upon is to study the template of the former man, not relying on the gains the man has done but to add value to where he stopped. It would have been good if he had waited to complete his six point agenda he proposed. Dikko reads the body language to go when the ovation was loud.
Kanikwu Chuks Davies
He had tried and we hope the new man will implement policies he was unable to implement. For six years, he has been able to implement few things for the Customs to forge ahead and hopefully, the next person that will be appointed will be able to do better where he has stopped. Welfare of the staff of the NCS has really improved, the borders have been manned and his position on imposing sanctions on banned products like poultry products and rice is really commendable We expect the next Customs CG to build on what Dikko has done. Not to relent on his effort but to improve on it especially on welfare of officers which will help reduce corruption because most Nigerians believe Customs is the most corrupt government agency. So the new administration should work at addressing this issue and at the same time put in place effective patrol of the borders because this is where smugglers are bring in contraband and even the insurgents bring in arms into the country.
Dikko’s administration was a disaster to the economy, to the Service and to Nigeria. I am talking not as an ordinarily agent but as a member of a committee of Customs reform that was set up to reform Customs. By appointing officers who are not qualified to become Area Controllers, Dikko destroyed the Service. Some of the controllers cannot even express themselves. On anti-smuggling, at the exit of Dikko’s regime, he started arresting some of those he allowed to bring contraband into the country. The PAAR he introduced for five months destroyed the economy. People lost their consignments and died in the process. Dikko had introduced PAAR before the Finance Minister intervened and brought in an enhanced PAAR which was achieved by Web Fointaine. Overtime goods under Dikko’s administration were auctioned even though payments have been made and as a result many people lost their consignments. My expectations for the new Customs CG that will be appointed is to implement modern Customs procedures, it should not be about only revenue because you cannot get revenue when you don’t have importation.
Everybody has his own style of operation just as Dikko had his own style too but with the government now, I think the new person will do better managerially than Dikko. Although Customs revenue collection improved during Dikko’s tenure but too much emphasis was placed on revenue at the expense of trade facilitation, importers and the masses. The new Customs CG should implement policies that will benefit both agents and the masses.
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