Customs Promotion: Ministerial Delay?

By Stephen Ubanna

More facts have emerged why officers  of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, with high expectation of wearing their new rank after last November  promotion examination may have  to wait for period of time  to allow the Customs and Excise Board to meet to ratify the results.

The Source learnt that the results had been compiled and forwarded to Kemi Adeosun , the minister of Finance, since last January  with a covering memo by Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, but the minister appears to be sitting it, in what officers described as a ”ministerial delay tactics”.

Sources at the Ministry had attributed the delay by  the minister  to give her nod to the  Secretary of the Customs and Excise Board to arrange for a meeting to ratify the November 2017, Customs officers promotion examination because of the cat and mouse  relation between  Adeosun, the minister of Finance and Ali, the Customs boss, who are both political appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All progressive Party Congress, APC.

Kemi Adeosun: Sitting On Customs Promotion List

The Magazine learnt that the frosty relation  beteen the duo started from the day the Ogun born minister of Finance was  allocated ted the Ministry by Buhari. The ministry has the Constitutional mandate oversee the agencies under it including the NCS and the Federal Inland Revenue, Services,FIRS.

Going by the Constitutional provision, the President is to appoint the Head of the these ministerial agencies on the recommendation of the minister. But the reverse was the case in the case of the appointment of Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, thus putting his loyalty to the minister  in doubt.

It was gathered that  on several occasions the Customs boss had bypassed the minister to the president to secure approval for Customs requests. Some of these approvals may not have gone down well with the minister who  may have considered as a gross insubordination. but that  was how far  she could go as she could not query him.

This is evident  going by the release of the  promotion examination which he had organised without ministerial approval. Many believe that he could release the results  without ministerial approval because he had the backing of the President.

Insiders told the Magazine that the minister may have clipped the wings of the Customs with the inauguration of the Customs and Excise Board . the Board had the minister of Finance as the Chairman and the Customs Comptroller General as the Vice Chairman. The  source disclosed that only the minister has the Constitutional mandate to call for the meeting of the Board to ratify promotions, appointments, retire or sack officers.

in spite of the fact that the Board had been inaugurated, Ali was said to have been carrying on  the affairs of the government revenue collecting agency as if it does not exist. Officers and men of the Service have been retired and sacked unilaterally without the Board approval .

A source who spoke to the Magazine on condition of anonymity disclosed that if it is possible for Ali to release the Customs officers promotion results which is still gathering dust  in the ministry , he would do it and dam the consequence.  this is because  he has released the results of the junior officers which is where his powers stopped.

The source disclosed that that Ali, is no longer finding it funny that the minister was still sitting on the Customs promotion results  in spite of the fact that  the list of the successful officers had been sent to her  with a backup  memo as a prelude for calling for a meeting of the Board to ratify it.  For now, officers who sat for the promotion examination are still at the mercy of the minister to release it.

There are fears in both official and unofficial circles that the Customs officers promotion file may remain unattended to in the minister’s office as long as she wants it unless she changes her mind to order for the Board to meet if she is in the country. This is because she is always out of the country attending one meeting or the other at the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund, IMF, African Development Bank, ADB or renegotiating the country foreign debts with creditor nations.

While in the country, the minister is not as free as people may think of it as she is occupied by other official matters  forcing her to shuttle between the ministry and the Presidency  to give one explanation or the other to the President or Secretary of the Federation.  This may have left with little or no time to pay special attention Customs matters.

Going by  Ali’s plan, another promotion examination  out to have been held  not later than June this year for officers and men of the Service who are due for it.

Investigation by the Magazine shows that Police Corps who sat for their own promotion examination at the same that  the Customs personnel did theirs  had participated in another promotion examination and their results released but Customs officers are still waiting for the outcome of the one conducted last November because of personal interest.

Hameed Ali: CG, Customs, Excise And Tariff

There  This is where  are fears that some officers whose names  had appeared on the retirement lists this year  on account of the mandatory 60 years age limit or who had put in  35 years of Service, according to the Civil Service rule   but who sat for the promotion examination may retire without being decorated with their new ranks.

”this is where the Army, Navy and Air Force are quite different from the NCS”, an Army officer remarked. The officer confirmed that once an officer  partakes in a promotion examination and retires before the promotion was released, he would still be given his appropriated rank and backed dated  to be at the level with his Course mates  at the Nigeria School of Infantry, Kaduna. The Customs Authorities  my have to take a cue  from the Military as a way of encouraging the officers and men of the Service while still in the Service.

Analysts  said the mister of Finance could be pardoned because she may have been occupied with securing Presidential approval for an enhance salary structure for officers and men of the Service  as a revenue generating agency. They felt claimed the minister may have paid more attention to the salary matter than  the Promotion result  as  she could easily handle the later on her own with the meeting of the Board. It would be recalled that at the last World Customs Day Celebration at the Customs Training College, Gwagwalada, She had promised of improved salary structure for the Service, forcing  Customs personnel to jump in uproar.  Charles Edike, an Assistant Comptroller General in-charge of the Customs Training College  could not hide his joy on the mention of the enhanced salary package as he danced uncontrollably on stage while Ali, the Comptroller General and  the senior officers watched. ” officers are still optimistic that the minister would release the Customs  last year promotion results to facilitate  the conduct of the next  examination as well as the release of the enhanced salary package for the Service.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on the recommendation of Ngozi, Okonjo-Iweala, a former minister f Finance and Coordinator of the Economy  appears  to be a former who had taken into consideration the contribution of  Customs in revenue generation for the government that he approved a 7 percent Cost of collection for  the Service and 4 percent Cost of collection for the FIRS, which Staff strength across the country  was not up to that of the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja.

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