By Bayo Bernard
Comptroller Muhammed Uba Garba appears to have realized early enough that the braggadocio strategy employed by his predecessors to tackle the hydra headed smuggling along Seme, the border post between Nigeria and Benin Republic will not be enough to rein in the menace on the long run.
The new Area Controller of Seme command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS on arrival at his new post, barely two months ago had sat down with some top officers in the command to chart strategy against smuggling in one of the busiest borders in Africa.
What subordinates told him resonated with what he already had in mind. There was need to bring all stakeholders to the table if anti-smuggling efforts were to succeed.
Since then, Comptroller Uba Garba has hit the ground running, meeting keen stakeholders in the area, such as heads of sister security agencies and traditional rulers, carrying the message of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col, Hameed Ali(rtd) with him, that Nigeria must not be allowed to become a dump site for uncertified foreign goods.
Comptroller Uba is definitely aware that his job in Seme has been cut out for him by his boss in Abuja. Apart from curtailing smuggling, he must generate more revenue into the coffers of the President Muhamadu Buhari-led Federal government.
He’s appears ready to succeed where others had failed, as he said during one of his familiarization to the Nigerian Airforce, 121 Forward Operation Base, Owode “ our core functions includes revenue generation for government, trade facilitation and anti-smuggling activities.
“Anti-smuggling operations aimed at protecting our economy from influx of prohibited items
“In carrying out these duties, we must ensure appropriate security surveillance within our borders which implies working in synergy with other security agencies,” Uba said.
Tight security around the border, he further said will ensure” trade facilitation and revenue generation for economic growth and development.”
The controller has also taken the campaign to the Nigerian Army, Battalions 243 in Badagry as well as Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, where he warned smugglers that they will face hard times under his watch.
Comptroller Uba has shown that the traditional institution in central to his work in Seme, therefore he, few days ago had series of meetings with Oba Akran of Badagry, Oba of Ibereku town, where the two obas assured him of their cooperation.
One of the chiefs in the Oba of Badagry palace informed the magazine that the traditional ruler was very pleased with the visit, and instructed his subject to steer clear of smuggling because “ a new sheriff is in town.”
Some stakeholders who spoke with the magazine in Seme, said Comptroller Uba has started well but are seriously watching whether he can replicate his success at the Federal Operations Unit, FOU Zone A at his new post.