Ali Will Remain CG- Presidency Sources
By Bayo Bernard
Recently on July 8, one Nura Dalhatu, an assistant superintendent of Customs, ASC promoted himself to the rank of Deputy Inspector of Customs and walked up to the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali in Abuja, demanding that he stepped down for him.
It has since been discovered that the said officer is not well and has been taken to medical facility by his employer.
But despite the failure “to topple’ Ali who was appointed into that office, three years ago by President Muammadu Buhari, the magazine learnt that officer Dalhatu represents the deep feelings of some officers and men who are disgruntled with the current leadership.
An online medium, nigeriamaritime360 suggests disenchantment within the rank and file of the service against CG Ali.
“There may be many Nura Dalhatu in the service who may have the same mind set as Nura but lack courage to express it. Nura Dalhatu’s aborted coup may be a sad reflection of the dominant mood among officers about their state of disenchantment with the system,” the medium said
To that extent, some close watchers of the service have mauled Ali’s replacement in the yet to be announced new cabinet of President Buhari.
Recall that the president last week stated that pressure was on him to announce his ministers.
The president’s admonition came on the suggestion of Senate President Ahmed Lawan, last week that Buhari was poised to send the list of his nominees to the Senate for confirmation.
Some very top officers of the service have recently told the magazine that they expect Ali’s replacement as soon as President Buhari formed his new cabinet.
An ACG told the magazine “There’s high expectation in the service already that the CG will be replaced by the president.”
He however said the “agitation is not because the CG has not performed” but that his “style of leadership has upset the tradition in the service.”
Ali is not a career customs officer and his military background raised dusts when he was appointed by the president.
The names of some prominent Nigerians have recently been thrown up as possible replacements for Ali.
Among those that have been suggested is Brigadier General Buba Marwa, former military administrator of Lagos.
The ex-milad has narrowly missed being appointed Chief of Staff after President Buhari re-appointed Abba Kyari.
Apart from Marwa, some stakeholders have also made a case for the appointment of career officers and as such some DCGs, the magazine learned have stepped up their lobby of top echelon in APC to land the job.
But despite high wire contest for Ali’s job, the magazine has learnt from competent Aso Rock sources that the Kaduna state born retired Army colonel will likely keep his job.
Close presidency sources told the magazine on Monday that nothing suggests so far that President Buhari was done with the service of one of his very trusted aides.
Ali was General Buhari’s Aide de Camp, ADC when the latter was military head of state.
“Col. Ali is one of the trumped cards of the administration. Since he was appointed he has changed the revenue profile of the Customs apart from re-organising the service for better performance. What better CG does the president need for another four years,” a presidency source said.
The source added that Buhari’s advisers favor continuity.
“The president has recently re-appointed Godwin Emefiele as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN he also extended the service of the Comptroller General of Prisons for a year, despite the fact that the prison boss was already due for retirement.
There are also suggestions that some ministers who served in the first tenure are likely to return. What the president is trying to incline is that he favours continuity and performance,” a political analyst said.
Despite the ‘quiet agitation’ for a new CG by some elements within the service who are not favored in the ‘current arrangement’, it was learned that one factor that has worked for Ali is the “re-organisation of the service as one of the highest revenue earner for the federal government apart from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS,” a ministry of Finance official told the magazine on Tuesday.
“At least over one trillion naira was generated last year into the federation account by the Customs, the first time in many years.
This has freed up huge resources for the government to spend on infrastructure and other essential services” the official said.
But the CG on his part is not solely depending on his perceived performance and closeness to the president to keep his job, sources said those close to him has recently suggested the need to ramp up campaign for his re-appointment by the president.
“This has become necessary after President Buhari re-appointed Abba Kyari. The CG was among those initially considered for that position, but I think the president changed his mind due to political expediency. And now that that the window has closed, everything must be done to retain this position,” a close aide of the CG said.
Part of the ongoing effort to make sure Ali retained his job, some of his aides told the magazine, is to further showcase the service as a big revenue performer and a reorganized agency of government.
“You must have noticed recently that top commands in the service have been churning out their half year revenue profile. This is not for fun.
What Ali’s spin doctors are telling the presidency is that the current structure in Customs fits the federal government revenue projection plan for the next four years,” Jelili Akande, a public affairs analyst told The Source.
The Apapa and Tin can commands have recently announced that they generated over N400bn in the last six months.
The breakdown of the revenue profile indicates that Apapa generated N203.264 bn while Tin can command generated N179.2 bn into the federation account.
Other top revenue earners in this category are Port Harcourt Area 2 command with revenue profile of N54 bn and the MMA Command which generated N29.1 bn.
“The Seme command is also one of the strategic image makers for the CG. Apart from tightening grip on smuggling of rice, tokunbo vehicles and other banned imported materials, the command under the leadership of one of the CG’s most trusted controllers has etched up its revenue profile,” Aniete John, a security analyst said.
The Area Controller of Seme command, Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba had announced on July 1, 2019 that the half year revenue generated into the coffers of the federal government stood at N4.1 bn.
Meanwhile, a top presidency source told the magazine that the “successful establishment of the Seme-Krake joint border post with the Republic of Benin and the recent interconnectivity between the two customs services” is a plus for President Buhari’s bilateral trade policies with Nigeria’s West Africa neighbours.