Resurrection Of Comptroller-General Of Customs Conference, A New Dawn

By Musa Omale

Resurrection Of Comptroller-General Of Customs Conference, A New Dawn
Customs CG Adeniyi

It is a tradition by government agencies especially the military and the police to set aside a period in a year to organize workshop, retreat, conference or by whatever name it is called, so as to brainstorm on the performance of the organization. It provides for stock- taking and create opportunity for x-raying its activities, thereby identifying areas of weakness and then proffer ways to achieve improvement. This practice is not new to the Nigeria Customs Service [NCS], and that is why over the years the NCS engages in this annual event, making it an avenue for assessment of its performance for the years past and then plan for the year ahead. 

When the practice started, it used to be known as the Senior Officers Seminar until when it was re-christened the Comptroller General’s Conference.+The New Series Of The CGC’S Conference. It is worthy of note that, the Conference which was known as Senior Officers Seminar was since inception restricted to only high ranking officers of the NCS. The 1990 edition, which was the third in the new series, which commenced in 1988 was however made elaborate, by extending invitations to distinguished members of the public including the academia and organized private sector. This has therefore become the trend in all other subsequent CGC’S Conferences, and remained a sacrosanct annual event except for 2008 and 2011 when there was a momentary pause.

A rebirth of the Conference was however undertaken in 2012, under the then visionary leadership of the of the late Abdullahi Dikko Inde, in a conscious effort to strengthen partnership and foster better collaboration with all stakeholders. The 2012 Conference being a re-birth after the momentary pause,  was a search light on the indispensability of the NCS in the management of the Nigerian economy. 

The theme, ‘’Borders Divide, Customs Connects,‘’ underscored the NCS’S role as the administrator of the security of the Nigerian economy. This was evidenced in the attendance which was unprecedented. Three former Presidents, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and other distinguished personalities were all in attendance at the opening ceremony, which took place at the Umaru Yar’Adua University and the Katsina Motel between November 25 and 30 2012. 

It was expected that with the great success of the 2012 Conference, the NCS was to leverage on that to sustain the tempo and unveil more agenda in the subsequent editions. This was however not to be as the Conference went comatose since then.The 2023 Conference, eleven years of not holding the CGC’S Conference no doubt affected generally both the internal and external collaboration, to gather and assess the Service performance during a particular year, and strategizing for other years ahead. 

The decision therefore by the incumbent CGC, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi [MFR], to kick start the old tradition of holding such a forum is a welcome development. It is scheduled to hold from December 13 to 15, 2023, at  Intercontinental Hotel, Kofo Abayomi street, Victoria Island, Lagos. In furtherance to this, and in line with his Agenda of Compliance, Collaboration and Continuous Improvement, the choice of the theme,  ‘’Leveraging Data Analytics for Secure and Efficient Trade Facilitation in Customs Operations,’’ for this new CGC’s Conference 2023 is apt.  

The importance of the theme therefore cannot be over emphasized. A concept note as issued by the Department of Strategic, Research and Policy, indicated that the gains of the theme is anchored on the increasing availability of data and advancement in analytics technique, hence the opportunity to leverage data driven approaches to enhance efficiency, improve risk management, and strengthen enforcement mechanisms.

The department articulated the objectives of the Conference to include – providing a platform for NCS, experts and stakeholders to share experiences, challenges and success stories related to data analytics in Customs business processes and enforcement. Fostering collaboration and partnerships among Customs and industry stakeholders to promote the adoption and implementation of data analytics solutions in Customs Operations. 

Exploring the potential of emerging technologies, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data analytics, in enhancing Customs enforcement capabilities and detecting Illicit trade activities. Discussing policy and regulatory considerations for utilizing data analytics in Customs operations, including privacy, data protection, and ethical use of data. Providing platform for capacity building and knowledge sharing on data management, and best practices in Customs operations.

This laudable objective is to be achieved via a wide range of topics related to the theme, which are to be discussed at the Conference. These among others include: Data Driven Governance: Navigating the future of modern Customs Administrations, A retrospective look at the NCS: Reflections from the past, Harnessing data analytics to enhance NCS core mandate, Leveraging data for personnel management and capacity building and using data to create an enabling environment for Customs administration.   

The topics no doubt are very captivating and has further brought to fore a core component of the Agenda of the Bashir Adewale Adeniyi’s led management team, which is continuous Improvement. On the whole it is an insight on how the NCS can use data to develop and implement policies thereby achieving its strategic objectives.

In conclusion, the commencement of this new series of the CGC’s Conference is a welcome development, and marks a landmark in the life of the regime of Adeniyi. As experts, practitioners, and other stakeholders gather to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and explore innovative solutions in leveraging data analytics for Customs operations, the NCS will definitely take stock of past years achievement, and against the modern trend, re-strategize for greater achievements, which by necessary implication are measured by more achievements.

Comptroller Musa Omale PhD, is the Customs Area Controller of the Sokoto/Zamfara Command of the Nigeria Customs Service.

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