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ByABUBAKAR ALIYU MOHAMMED

Revived Customs’ conference and its positive dimension

THE Nigeria Customs Service has been
exploring all avenues in making the Ni
gerian public and the world to be aware of their functions. The importance of their activities to the national development cannot be over emphasized. The present management leadership under the amiable leadership of Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde (CFR) sat and initiated a strategy towards this agenda. Hence, this led in reviving the annual Nigeria Customs Service conference. Because, the last time this conference was held was in the year 2007 in Sokoto state.
The year 2012 will be remembered as the revived annual conference took place in the ancient city of Katsina, capital of Katsina state. Interestingly, the host state is the state of origin of the present Comptroller General Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde (CFR). The conference was held on the 26th of November 2012 to the 29th of November 2012 respectively. The venue of the conference was the ultra­modern auditorium of the Umaru Yar’adua University, Katsina. This auditorium can accommodate more than 5000 dignitaries instantly, with all the modern technological advancement gadgets. Especially, with the caliber of important personalities that are to grace the occasion, this led in choosing the venue of the event.
As usual Katsina state will be in history as for a very long time to come, because of the- unprecedented personalities & crowd that graced the conference. Katsina city came to a standstill with. the caliber of important personalities’ both mighty and the low. His Excellency, Vice President Alhaji Mohammed Namadi Sambo represented President Goodluck Jonathan. Former Presidents Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Former, Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubaker ( a former senior custom officer). His Excellency, the Host Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Shema.
Sultan of Sokoto His Eminence Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, Oni of Ife, Deji of Akure, Emir of katsina & Daura and other prominent traditional rulers across Nigeria and other neighbouring countries. Right Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Speaker House of Representatives and National Assembly members. Minister of State Finance Alhaji Lawal Ngama, and other members of the Federal Executive Council. The Director Generals of customs of Benin & Niger republic are all in attendance. Others are heads of Nigerian immigration service, Federal Inland Revenue Service, the military hierarchy etc. also, there are stakeholders in the custom, maritime sector and agents as well as ordinary Nigerians.
This year’s conference theme was” Border’s Divide: Customs Connect. “The conference theme’ is significant in meaning as it goes with the present challenges & realities as it affects the Nigerian custom service in its entirety. The smuggling rate at our borders is so alarming, so the customs ‘Service is the solution. In other words, majority of the challenges facing the: Nigerian customs service is in our territorial borders. With all the necessary support & co-operation from the government in terms of adequate provision of logistics, all the lost hope can be restored by the Nigerian customs. Therefore, this theme has a very wider dimension, that’s why the initiators have wisdom & foresight for the Para­military agency.
One major significant of this revived conference has been described as a reunion experience. This is whereby the combination of the present leadership of the Para-military agency and former top echelon has added glamour to the weeklong event. This is because; a lot of ideas, knowledge and experience were exchanged for the rapid transformation of the customs service. This will go a long way in making the agency live up to their functional responsibility efficiently. These include effective tackling of smuggling proliferation, mechanism in the improvement of revenue generation and also improve the of staff welfare package etc. This has been attested to with the presence of former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar alongside former top brass of the Nigerian customs service.
The speeches and presentations during this year’s conference by the important dignitaries are something worthy of commendation and challenges to the Nigerian customs service. President Goodluck Jonathan ably represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo said” I must commend the comptroller general and the entire customs service for the clear improvement that from 30 billion Naira monthly revenue, we are today at about 100 billion Naira and the CG has confident.ly informed me that very soon it will increase to 150 billion Naira per month”. He further states that” in line with our administration is zero tolerance for corruption the customs service must constantly examine itself by weeding out corrupt men and officers whose activities tarnish the image of the service. You must faithfully abide by the principles of good governance which encapsulates transparency and integrity. “
The above speech of Mr. President, read by Vice President Namadi Sambo, is heart touching to the entire agency. It focused on two major perspectives, first by commending the agency in attaining some greater height in revenue generation as well as seek for the future once more. This shows the CG and his team is doing a job well done to the entire nation, as well as a promise to do more. Secondly, the challenge on the authorities is to flush out the bad eggs within their system in order to have an efficient workforce. This will emphatically, provide maximum productivity from the leadership down to the ladder in service delivery to the nation. The president attached a lot of importance to the Para-military agency, because of their relevance to national development. This is also enumerated he participated in every functions and events, unless his engagements supersede that of the Nigerian custom. Don’t forget before he was also one of them (custom officer), that’s why he provides them with all the urgent and necessary finance & logistics.
The Speaker federal house of representatives, Rt. Hon. Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in his speech states that we will make you more effective so that you can work professionally. We will put all our best to see that you have the kind of laws you need to make you more effective”. This claim has been manifested…with an act of the Nigerian customs service before the national assembly, receiving positive attention from the lawmakers. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, in his speech all actions and inactions which has led the public to associate the service with corruption must be addressed”. His speech is not surprising as a former senior custom officer. The lingering challenge of the agency must be adequately controlled in having an effect.ive and efficient customs serviCe that every Nigerian will be proud of. But really shows how the agency has been making a positive impact under Abdullahi Dikko Inde, and urged them to maintain and sustain the tempo.
While the convener of the conference, the 29th comptroller general of the Nigerian cus!oms service Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko hide (CFR) make a remarkable welcome address the bold decision by government to return to the service, its statutory responsibilities, is a function of the confidence Mr. President has both in the leadership and capabilities of the service”. This epoch speech Make emphasis on what they have done, what they are presently doing and what they are aspiring to do in near future. This are all aimed in making the Nigerian customs service a leader in Nigeria’s economy and beyond, especially in this challenging period of our ailing economy. The comptroller general promise a new result oriented service, with new initiatives & policies that will improve more revenue generation, check smuggling menace & enhance international trade.
The annual conference has become also a platform not only for interaction, but with the major partners of the Nigerian customs service. The agency as a body with main mandate of revenue generation makes their functions much easier, with good collaboration and partnership with other agencies. The agencies are both in the public sector and the private sector respectively. The Nigerian customs service recognized their presence and importance during such an august gathering in Katsina. Because the technical session of the conference involves such agencies such as NAFDAC, SON, Nigerian Immigration Service, custom clearing agents, maritime experts etc. Others include the Armed Forces, Police, State Security Service, Nigerian Security & Civil Defence Corp all contributed in their specific in relation to customs functions. Because in today’s global village, reality has shown no organization is an island of its own.
All inputs made during the conference are geared toward a well defined custom agency that can stand the test of time in this millennium & beyond. The conference has become an avenue of learning, teaching and experiences between all the stakeholders involved in the annual event. As this conference has x-rayed the impacts of the agency, shortcomings and solutions proffered. This conference will also go a long way in finding a lasting solution hampering the smooth operation and conduct of the Nigerian customs service.
The Nigeria customs service has been commended from far and near, especially the Comptroller General Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde with the revival of the annual conference. With the comptroller general determination, it will continue to be an annual event henceforth. It will become an umbrella for an immediate measuring of the full activities of the Nigerian custom service. This will also serve as inter­me diary platform in surveying the prospects and utilizing its full potentials for the overall interest of the nation.
The comptroller general has recorded yet another milestone in his focus, foresight and transparent leadership with this successful hosting. As the year winds up, the expectation in every lips of Nigerians are the declaration to be made by the comptroller general himself in total revenue he generated to the nation. This revived custom annual conference positive impact will be definitely felt by all un-sundry Nigerians. Another successful result oriented year, from no one’ but Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, our amiable comptroller general of the century and beyond. Thank you, Mr. Comptroller General of the Nigerian people.

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