Isa MairoTalatu: A woman of substance and a game changer

Less than 2 years after she was appointed to head Lilypond Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service and presently, PTML Area Command, Comptroller Isa MairoTalatu is one of the few female controllers that have made an indelible mark in areas of revenue generation, maintenance of cordial relations between officers and clearing agents as well as creation of a conducive atmosphere for female officers to work in a career largely dominated by men.


While serving as Controller, Lilypond Command, Talatu’s determination and efforts to resuscitate the once moribund terminal yielded positive results as the command witnessed increased transfer of containers to the terminal which thus translated into higher revenue collection.


This is evident in the revenue profile of the command within the period – of 1 year – she served as Controller. In 2014, just months after assuming office, Talatu had expressed the determination to prove her mettle when she recorded an all–time high revenue of N2.3 billion in the month of May. This is seen as unprecedented in the history of the command.


Between November 2013 and December 2014, the command under Talatu’s watch generated into the Federal Government’s coffers over N19 billion as against the command’s yearly target of N15.6billion, going by its monthly target of N1.3billion which thus showed an increase of N3.4billion.


Described as a super achiever, Talatu’s commitment and hard work did not go unnoticed by the Customs management as it earned her not only commendations but she was also promoted from the rank of a Deputy Controller to a full Comptroller.


Lilypond Command under Talatu’s watch did not only excel in the area of revenue generation, the facility also received a facelift. She effected changes in the enforcement unit of the command with the creation of a cell unit where defendants are kept before they are released on bail or prosecuted -prior to its creation, defendants were usually sent to other commands.


Now serving as the first female controller in the first model port in Nigeria since it was created in 2006, Comptroller Isa MairoTalatu believes a conducive working environment contributes to better performance of officers; and little wonder she had recreated same at the PTML Command with barely two months stay in office.


Fondly called Mama Oyoyo, Talatu, a paragon of beauty, has transformed the image of the command such that the hitherto unclean offices and quarter guard are now wearing new looks.


Her effort in restructuring the command for greater efficiency has no doubt enabled the officers to shine bright and delight in coming to work.


Talatu had also made effort in ensuring that the grey areas hindering cordial working relationship between the customs brokers and the command were resolved.


Confirming the cordial relationship the command under Talatu’s watch now enjoys with clearing agents, Chairman, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), PTML Chapter, Bola Adesokan said the existence of close ties had eliminated internal rancour that hitherto existed in the command.


He said, “She came at the right time to the command and within a month of assuming office, she made a lot changes in operations of the command. She is a woman like a man and a very agile officer. Whenever she hears something is wrong, she will call for a meeting immediately and that has helped solve a lot of problems between Customs and agents.


“Customs officers at the command now have more respect for customs brokers and before you complain about anything, she has already addressed it.


In the area of revenue generation, although the command recorded a shortfall in the month of January and February 2015 as it collected the sum of N5billion and N4.8billion as against N7billion and N4.75 billion generated in the corresponding period of 2014, spokesman of the command, Steve Okonmah said the deficit in the command’s revenue collection was as a result of the drop in volume of vehicle importation and the uncertainties which surrounded the just concluded general election.


He said, “So many factors were responsible for the drop in our revenue. First, last year was not an election year but we had elections this year. Importers were not active because they felt there was need for them to keep their money where it would be safe; they were waiting to see what would happen after the elections.


“Vehicle volume is also low because importers had the fear that government was going to announce the implementation of the auto policy on used vehicles by January, so most of them diverted most of their vehicles to Cotonou, but even with that we still scaled through last year.


“The crisis in the North East and North West also contributed because a large amount of goods that comes into Nigeria goes as far as to Chad, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso by road; but with the crisis, the volume went down drastically. So that alone led to the reduction in the volume of cargo coming into the country” he said.


Described as a gifted woman who could always turn a frown upside down, Talatu delights in caring for the welfare of her officers even though she never tolerates indolence and highhandedness of officers especially against the agents.


She said, “I will not tolerate officers’ being rude to agents. Without the agents, the command would not be able to realize its revenue target. We are here because of them but that must be done without loss of dignity,”


A compassionate leader, a woman of passion who has been working for the betterment and interest of the Service, Comp. Isa MairoTalatu is without a shadow of doubt an asset to the Nigeria Customs Service.

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