Ali’s Customs Uniform Conundrum

Ali’s Customs Uniform Conundrum
Col. Hameed Ali, CG of Nigeria Customs Service

True humility is intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. It makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be.– Ralph W. Sockman

The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) refusal to wear the Customs uniform has raised several eyebrows and questions about his attitude, disposition and even his appointment.

When Ali initially appeared before the Senate without Customs uniform, he apologized and promised to do so next time, however, the second time he stubbornly refused and was consequently thrown out of the Senate Chamber.

Although, there may be no law in nation’s constitution that constrains or compels him to wear his uniform but humility, good manners, morality, wisdom, custom and decency most certainly do, especially if he hopes to enjoy the loyalty and support of the Customs officers.

There isn’t any law that says we must rise when the President enters a gathering, neither is there any law that says we must play the National Anthem at official functions, but these are ideal remarks and actions that show loyalty, respect and culture.

Many wonder how comfortable he expects those that support him and work as his subordinates in the Nigerian Customs Service to feel when he refuses to wear their uniform. Is he not indirectly telling them that he is superior to them and that he is too good for them? The next question would be- why take the job if you are too good or too big for it?

This is a service that officers have dedicated their lives and careers to. One can only wonder how this affects the morale of the Customs officers, especially the senior officers; because such a thing has never happened before.

Ali also has contempt for his coordinating Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun who he is meant to report to. He has contempt for the government agency that he purportedly leads. He has contempt for the people that work under him in that agency and most recently he has developed contempt for the Nigerian Senate.


Ali was the Chief of Staff during numerous presidential campaigns and President Buhari loves him as his son. However, this shouldn’t lead to sheer impudence and supreme confidence disrespect for the norms in the Customs Service. His attitude has led people to ask if his excesses would have been condoled if he had not been Buhari’s soul-mate and kinsman.

He is reported to have said that he will not wear the customs uniform because he is a retired officer of the Nigerian Army and the only uniform he will ever wear again is the military one.

However, Major-General Hananiya who retired as a Major-General in the Nigerian Army proudly adorned the uniform of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) after being appointed as the head of that agency.

According to the Scheme of Service of Nigeria Customs Service No 24 Vol 89 of 25th march 2002 page 213-332 outlines that the appointment of a Comptroller General should be done by the President choosing from a suitable Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs.

Ali may need counseling to realize what kind of signal he is sending to the Nigerian people, his Customs officers and to the rest of the world!

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