In view of the recent appointment of Col. Hammed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) to head the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), the Nigerian Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), has expressed strong concern over the appointment of a non-customs officer to head the sensitive organization.
This was the thrust of a release signed by the Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebgulam, reiterating that although Mr. President did not contravene the law establishing the composition of the Board of the NCS under the Nigerian Constitution, still the emergence of a retired military officer as the Comptroller- General of Customs calls for concern and due attention from stakeholders.
While expressing optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari was a man of integrity and could only mean well for the country, Aniegbulam pointed out that he must be mindful of the implications of appointing an outsider to head the Customs which has led to disenchantment among many serving customs officers.
According to him, “The intrusion of non professional Officers at the highest level of the Customs administration is most disturbing to officers because in
the past there have been an experience of such decisions in the Service career against customs officers who may have given their best in service to Nigeria.”
Going down memory lane, NAGAFF cited previous instances where non-customs officers were brought in and placed at the head of customs,
“It is on record that a Veterinary Doctor Alhaji Bello Mohammed, and a
serving Army Officer Brigadier Gen. Ango Abdullahi were at different times
appointed as CGC. It is also alleged that one Alhaji Shehu Musa as a
Permanent Secretary was drafted to head Customs,”
Bearing all the reactions emanating from industry watchers notwithstanding, Aniegbulam said it was primarily concerned with the law, professionalism and merit rather than mudslinging as the appointment of Rtd. Col. Hameed Ali was done in consonance with the laws of the land.
He therefore advised any person or group within the Customs, who feel aggrieved with the appointment of an outsider like Col. Ali as CG of Customs, to seek redress by approaching the National Assembly to make necessary amendments in the composition of the Board and appointments into the Customs service to exclude outsiders from being the CGC.
He pointed out that “Section 215(1a) of the 1999 Constitution as amended makes it expressly clear that the appointment of
the Inspector General of Police must be from the serving Police Officers,” inferring that the customs, too, could get this kind of provision amended into the Nigerian constitution.
Furthermore, he questioned a norm where a customs officer who may have dedicated long years and given his best to serve the country cannot aspire to the height of his career, adding that it is equitable for a Customs Officer who has chosen a career path in the Service to aspire to become the head of the
organization he/she has labored for throughout a period of up to 35 years.
He opined further that the continuance of the present trend is likely to boomerang into lack of zeal and patriotism on the part of senior customs officers. “We think that the morale and zeal of even the lowest ranking officer in the Service will be at its lowest ebb with this type of
trend. In one fell swoop so many technical officers who have been
trained with tax payers’ money will be thrown out of the service without
the nation getting the benefit of their training.”
He seized the opportunity to call on the president to use every available means to douse fear and reassure Officers and men of the Service that this type of appointment of an “outsider” to head the NCS is just an exception and is not going to be the rule.