As the storm and dust generated recently by the voluntary retirement of the former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, is still heavy in the air, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, has moved to douse every suspicion associated with Mr. Dikko’s unexpected resignation and his subsequent handing over to his deputy, Ag. CGC John Atte In Abuja.
It would be recalled that the former Customs boss retired voluntary from service last week, after being at the helm of affairs of the Custom for about six years. He handed over to his deputy, Mr. Atte in a ceremony held behind closed doors, leading many in the industry to wonder if indeed there is not more to Dikko’s resignation than meets the eyes.
However, NAGAFF, in a press statement signed by its Deputy National President, Barr. Fred Akokhia, condemned in very strong terms what it considered the deliberate “misinformation and propaganda” being peddled by certain individuals in the Industry with clandestine motives of their own.
NAGAFF lauded President Mohammadu Buhari’s initiative to sanitize the nation’s economy, and also commended the former custom’s boss, Dikko for his service, enthusing that “a unique opportunity now exists to have a structural readjustment in the Nigeria Customs Service.”
The Association therefore decried insinuations making the round as to the competence of the Acting Customs’ boss, John Atte, to steer the affair of the Service even as he, Atte, is yet to be confirmed by the president.
According to the statement, “It is out of place for anybody to think that DCG John Atte, having received the handover notes of office from his immediate boss as the most senior officer, should be lacking in authority to administer the Nigerian Customs Service.”
It added that it was inconsequential whether the handover was conducted openly or in secret. “Whether the handover was done in the darkness or in the public glare, it has nothing to do with the authority to manage and administer the Nigeria customs service,” as the said handover was in accordance with laid down civil service rules and regulation that the second in command takes over from his boss in the event of absence in office.
NAGAFF hailed the emergence of Atte as the acting CG, describing it as the best development at the moment. It called upon him to hit the ground running and not be “intimidated by those cabals who think that it must be them or never in the customs administration.”
The Association went on to present a body of issues plaguing the Service, which it believes should be of immediate concern to be addressed by the new helmsman, vis-à-vis the disbanding of PAAR ruling centre offices at the ports, disbanding of every committee or taskforce in the administration of Custom’s operations, stoppage of every alert and allowing Custom’s Examiners to do their job, reviewing all cases of blacklisted agency licenses as well as asking for a comprehensive list of officers who have been unduly denied promotion since 2004.
Other issues raised by NAGAFF was the need to empower zonal offices to function immediately, mandating seized and overtime goods to be returned to the zones, the Valuation Unit, CIU and Inspectorate Division equally, and strengthening the anti-corruption unit of the customs to fall in line with government’s agenda, as the act of Mr. President must be seen as sending a right signal to all organizations in the civil and public service.