By Kenneth Jukpor
The recent promotion of senior officers of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is a move that has earned the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd) and the entire Customs management more commendations than previous promotion exercises.
Maritime industry observers have rated some of the newly promoted officers as refined Customs personnel whose pedigree, transparency and professionalism will further bridge the gaps between the service and other stakeholders.
Among the newly promoted officers is an epitome of good service, vast experience and top-notch professionalism and patriotism at the Service; the newly appointed Customs Area Controller at the Ogun 1 Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi.
He is an officer whose rise was gradual, foreseen, assuring, and predictable; nevertheless, he remained calm and unflustered going about his obligations with finesse and professionalism that is uncommon in Customs.
When some freight agents become very exploitative in getting Customs officers to compromise in terms of duties or products not approved for imports, Comptroller Nnadi is someone who engages such non-compliant freight agents and avails them vital schooling on the far-reaching effects of shortchanging the government and importing items that have been prohibited in a bid to ensure indigenous production thrives.
The truth is that every other aspiration and desire ranks second in Comptroller Nnadi’s mind. What comes first is the interest of the nation and by extension NCS, so his ultimate focus is top-level service delivery and professionalism.
Speaking with MMS Plus on the recent appointment of Comptroller Dera Nnadi as Area Controller of Ogun 1 Customs, a veteran freight forwarder and Chairman of MarkMary Group of Companies, Prince Oyeniyi stressed that the Customs management should be commended for choosing a well-deserved personality.
Oyeniyi, who has over two decades work experience with Dera Nnadi, described the new Idiroko Customs boss as a ‘Crisis Manager’.
While the freight agent noted that most of the newly promoted officers of NCS are his friends, he further described Comptroller Nnadi as “a truly wonderful personality”
His words: “I have known Comptroller Nnadi for over twenty years and he has always been a dedicated upright officer. I first met him while he was the Public Relations Officer at Apapa Command. He is very straightforward and a refined crisis manager.”
“This is a Customs officer who knows his onion and I don’t have a doubt that he will be an excellent result-driven Area Controller at Idiroko and other future engagements.”
“His appointment as Area Controller at the Ogun 1 Command is well-deserved and I commend the leadership of NCS for this decision.”
Also speaking on the new Idiroko Customs boss, a member of the immediate past Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Princess Grace Ezeh, described Comptroller Nnadi as “a delight to every compliant freight forwarder.”
Princess Ezeh noted that the Customs boss was always concerned about speedy evacuation of cargoes when all necessary duties have been paid; arguing that this quality isn’t common among other Customs bosses whose primary concern is their duty collection.
When contacted, the President of ANLCA, Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike told our correspondent that as a Customs officer, Comptroller Nnadi should be seen “an asset to the NCS.”
Nwabunike observed that Nnadi has been a member of the think-tank committees playing crucial roles in redefining various aspects of Customs operations, especially in the seaport pre-concession deliberations and the Customs online platform reformation from the Asycuda era until the modern Nigerian Customs Integrated System (NICIS II).
According to Nwabunike, most Customs officers have specialty in certain areas and flaws in others but Comptroller Nnadi has been grilled thoroughly in the administrative and operational aspects of the service, even as he boasts robust interpersonal relationships with journalists, shipping companies, terminal operators, freight forwarders and other port stakeholders.
The ANLCA President equally stressed that Nnadi’s stint as a Public Relations Officer at the nation’s biggest port, Apapa, his work experience as Zonal Public Relations Officer at the Zone A Headquarters and the service years at NCS headquarters in Abuja earned him a rare understanding of all aspects of service.
“When you meet Comptroller Nnadi, you know that you have met an excellent Customs officer. He represents the ideals of the Customs service; yet he is also concerned about the effects of their activities on the society and the entire nation.”
“I do agree that the NCS management has done a good job in appointing him as Area Controller at Ogun 1 Command and I’m sure that he will bring to fore his excellence in management and character,” the ANLCA President said.
As an ardent admirer and student of the ACG Nuhu Abubakar (Rtd) philosophy of professional clarity, Dera Nnadi never allowed anything to distract him from chasing after his career. His intelligence, diligence, wisdom and humility endeared him to a wide range of publics and stakeholders, and subsequently, all the bosses he served under.
It was not surprising that Col. Hameed Ali also found such traits in him at the headquarters, and proceeded to encourage him. Rumour has it that the CGC found him a like-able, hardworking and trusted officer, and personally saw to his posting to the Enforcement unit of Tin Can Island Command, from the headquarters.
Nnadi assumed the centre striker role at TCIP, and within the period he served there, the Command intercepted a number of high profile seizures, including two separate containerized consignments of guns and ammunition. The seizures were so significant that the CGC approved special promotion of some of the officers involved in the operations.
Comptroller Dera Nnadi has served in various commands and in different departments, including a fairly long stint at the headquarters, where he was put in charge of critical responsibilities. Today, he is the Area Controller at the Ogun 1 Customs Command.
Noting that the Ogun 1 Customs Command has tremendous significance to Nigeria Customs Service, Ogun State and Nigeria, Dera Nnadi has already promised to deliver with a high sense of responsibility.
“This is the gate way Command with potentials of not only being a major regional trade hub for West and Central Africa and beyond but can also be an example of coordinated border with Nigeria’s proximate neighbors.”
“I want to thank Comptroller Peter Kolo and Comptroller Michael Agbara and the Officers and Men of the Command for sustaining the successes recorded in the Command in the past years. I also wish to thank our various stakeholders whose cooperation and synergy contributed to the feat recorded by the Officers in the Command,” he said during the hand-over ceremony.
While he appreciated the traditional rulers, community leaders and the youths who aligned with the Command in actualizing her mandate, he passed the credit to the two immediate Controllers of the Command especially Comptroller Peter Kolo with whom he visited over 20 traditional rulers and engaged with the heads of all security agencies in order to establish such status.
“I am resuming in the Command knowing that although it has consistently recorded numerous achievements in the past, a lot is still desirable and expected of us by the stakeholders which include the CGC, management of the Service, Zone A coordinator, the officers and men in the Command and of course the border community with whom we expect strong partnership in the enforcement of government policies. Other government agencies who partner with the Service also expect us to continue to play the role of lead agency and we cannot afford to let them down,” Nnadi added.
Despite the feats achieved by all the leadership of the Ogun 1 Customs Command in recent years, there are varying challenges in the quest to maximize anti-smuggling operations which is the core mandate of the Command as the border has been closed for over two years.
Some of the challenges, Comptroller Nnadi and his team will be expected to surmount include; issues of multiple illegal and unproved routes, poor integrity of the supply chain along the border corridor, incessant attacks on personnel at the land borders, limited number of personnel to man the vast border entry points, among others.
Nevertheless, Dera Nnadi has resolved to achieve the following highlighted in his maiden speech as Area Controller at the Command; sustain the status as the foremost anti-smuggling Command in Zone A if not indeed the entire Service, uphold Service rules of engagement and integrity in our operations in the Command, facilitate legitimate trade in the Command when hopefully the borders are opened and pursue a robust stakeholders’ engagement across the Command area of responsibility.
It’s not common to find a Customs officer whose goodwill cuts across the dispute ridden port sector, especially among the freight forwarders; but Nnadi has a history of excellence and professionalism that the Comptroller General and the entire Customs management will expect him to live upto.
Leaders instill in people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals. This is the benchmark for Comptroller Nnadi, but Customs management deserves kudos for his timely appointment as the Area Controller at Ogun 1 Command.