By Stephen Ubanna
Officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, appear disappointed over the the release of the last promotion examination by Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General of the Service as may were said to have failed.
The Customs Officers were said to have read widely for the promotion examination because of the assurance by the Comptroller General that the exercise would be based on merit. He was said to have assured them that the result would not be delayed a day longer than necessary. They were said to have accepted him by his words that before the end of the first quarter of this year the result would be released. True to his words , he was said to have released the Inspectors result while that of the officers are not likely to come out next week.
insiders told The Source that the promotion result had been ready for release but the Customs boss may have been reluctant to do so because of the limited vacant positions space available to be filled up in the various Customs Formation across the country including the Customs Headquarters and the Zonal offices. The situation is too bad as most of the officers who were promoted last year are said to be crowded in some of the Zonal officers while some are still roaming about without office.
Investigation by the Magazine shows that thousands of Officers from the rank of Customs Inspectors, Assistant superintendent of Customs, Superintendents to Deputy Comptrollers had sat for the promotion examination. It was learnt the vacant positions at the Comptroller’s level was 47, Deputy Comptrollers position, 50, Assistant Comptrollers, 33, Superintendents, 400 and Customs Inspectors vacancies in Customs Formations nation-wide was put at about 2000.
A source told the Magazine that over 300 officers had sat for the promotion examination from the rank of Assistant to the next rank of Deputy Comptroller while over 100 Deputy Comptrollers was said to have sat for the elevation to the enviable rank of Comptroller . The source disclosed that over 800 officers from the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Customs sat for the Superintendent Examination for about 400 vacancies.
The worse hit are officers from the rank of Chief Superintendents itching to become Assistant Comptrollers and Customs Inspectors, CSC, level. It was gathered that over 500 of CSC had sat for the Examination but what the management was said to have actually need to occupy the vacant positions available for officers of that rank at the Commands, Zonal offices and the Customs Headquarters was said to be a miserable figure of 33.
Despite the rumour making the rounds of the limited vacant positions to be filled, officers and men of the Service still want Ali, the Comptroller General to release the result, which they believe would serve as a morale booster to the Staff.
A senior Customs officer who spoke to the Magazine on condition of anonymity disclosed that the problem of vacant positions at the Officers level started with the harmonization of the grading pattern dichotomy between first Degree holders( B.Sc /BA holders and Higher National Diploma holders. The dichotomy was more pronounced in the NCS during the Administration of the then Comptroller General, Buba Gyang. Many HND holders who wearing the ranks of Assistant Superintendents and above were said to have been demoted to Inspectors rank. They were said to have had a soft landing with the abolition of the dichotomy by Ali, on the orders of the government. Those of them who were still in the Service but were demoted to lower ranks were returned to their old officers’ rank and given back their official position and offices.
It is not surprising why the Customs management had been battling to ensure that the necessary facilities to work are fully put in place before the release of the recent promotion results. Until the promotions are released, the officers appear to have reserved themselves to fate, hoping that Ali, would remember them when the coast is clear to do so.
Meanwhile , another promotion examination is due in the Service later this which could churn out more officers that would be promoted. The joy of many of these senior officers is the fact that more vacant positions would be made available soon with the anticipated retirement of Officers based on age and the and mandatory 35 years requirement based the Federal Civil Service rule. There are indications that thousands of people would be retired in the Service between now and December 2018. It was learnt that list of those to go go this year had been released and the Officers know themselves, and had started clearing their offices in readiness to go. This is to pave way for their replacements.