Adewale Adeniyi’s Revolution In The Customs: One Outstanding Year

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Customs CG, Wale Adeniyi, MFR.

By Musa Omale

Comptroller Musa Omale.

Since his appointment as the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) about a year ago, on June 19, 2023, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR has displayed a rare dynamism in running the affairs of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). This is anchored on the fact that he has recorded multifaceted feats since assuming office.

Indeed it is a case of a success story, thereby justifying our earlier opinion when he was appointed that, he was a reincarnated ICON of the Abdullahi Dikko’s Glorious yester years which moved the Customs to a world’s class standard. He believes that everything succeeds and fails on the table of leadership, hence the need to provide the right leadership. It is against this background that his landmark achievements are herein chronicled.

Mission Statement

On assumption of office, Adeniyi reviewed the Performances of past administrations and in line with modern trends, re-strategize for greater achievements. His Agenda of Compliance, Collaboration and Continuous Improvement therefore become the magic wand with which, in just one year he has taken the service to an enviable height. In fact old ways gave way to new ones leading to real technological revolution in NCS mandate of revenue generation and anti-smuggling operations.

Revenue Collection

In order to achieve this core function of the NCS, Adeniyi, since assumption of office crafted a blueprint that improved the revenue profile of the Service. Talented officers in relation to Tariff and Trade are posted to that department to get the desired positive result.

A testimony of this assertion is the commendation given by the 100% compliance Team, of the National Association of Government Approved freight forwarders,  (NAGAFF) to the Deputy Comptroller-General, Tariff and Trade, (DCG T&T), Caroline Niagwan for her commitment and dedication to trade facilitation.

The National coordinator of the NAGAFF 100% compliance team Alhaji (Dr) Tanko, attributed this feat to the leadership style of the Comptroller General (CG), which has led to increased revenue. A drastic overhaul of the system enabled the service to exceed the monthly revenue targets by 6.71% for the first time in 2023.

This no doubt was anchored on Adeniyi’s strategic move by establishing a Revenue Review Recovery Team, that continue to sustain the efforts of the NCS, in optimizing revenue Collection for the ultimate good of the country.

In order to achieve the 5.1 trillion naira target set by the federal Government for the year 2024, the CGC vowed to meet up, hence every naira and kobo collected, blocked, remitted becomes of essence. To this  end, the following measures launched/put in place  by the CGC is sure  to further take the NCS to the next level in revenue generation.

  • A time release study conducted in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and other International Partners to obtain a scientific study of clearing cargoes from the port.
  • Strengthening of the post clearance Audit (PCA) unit
  • Introduction of the Advanced Ruling system, thereby aligning the NCS Operations with global best practices
  • Implementation of the Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) concept for Compliance Traders.
  • Establishment of Customs Laboratory and adoption of geospatial technology
  • Integration of data system with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), to block illegal entry of Vehicles into the Country
  • Installation of ‘Virtual Reality Technology’ (VRT)
  • Integration of Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AAI)
  • The signing of a memorandum of understanding (mou) with the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) to foster bilateral relationship for the enhancement of economic growth
  • Collaboration with the post-mortem sub-committee of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
  • Review of trade facilitation agreement between Nigeria and the Benin Republic.
  • Collaboration with the German International Cooperation Agency(GIZ), in trade Facilitation under the Nigeria Energy Support Programme.
  • Implementation of the Lagos continental document, produced through intensive stakeholders engagement and participation at the 2023 CGC Conference.

These measures represent the strong commitment of the CGC to strengthening, the relationship with all stakeholders for maximum revenue generation.

Anti- Smuggling Operations

Adeniyi has in the last one year, been able to create an Effective Enforcement Measure to tackle the menace of Smuggling, that has caused so much pain and embarrassment to the nation. To this end, the following measure adopted is highly Commendable.

  • Dissolution of the hitherto CGC strike force and streamlining enforcement under the Federal Operations Unit (FOU)
  • Sustained /resolute stance against combating illicit trade in Animal/wildlife.
  • Enhancement of border security
  • Installation of virtual reality technology to curb Smuggling.
  • Collaboration with Nigerian Navy to combat Smuggling across the waterways, and to enhance the capacity of Customs Marine Officers.
  • The launch of Operation Whirlwind to combat Smuggling/insecurity.
  • Constitution of a Special Task Force on illegal oil bunkering.
  • Prioritizing intelligence-driven operations with other Security Agencies.
  • Review of the five-year-old Harmonized Standard Operating Procedure (HSOP) for Monitoring Maritime crimes.

This it is submitted, is a real dynamic approach to quell what has attempted to pose as a hydra-headed monster. A Justification here is the statistics of about 3,806 Seizures made in the period, with a Duty Paid Value of  ₦16,049,023,262, arising from the vigorous campaign against smuggling and illicit trade.

Welfare

Leveraging on the new Funding regime of not less than 4% of the Free-0n-board value of Imports according to international best practices, as provided in the NCS Act, 2023, the CGC has demonstrated a definite Commitment to improving the welfare of the NCS Workforce. All directives of the Federal Government on improved Salary as a result of the Subsidy withdrawal is promptly complied with.

Plans are underway subject to the NCS Governing Board’s approval to further improve the Salary and other retirement benefits of the officers. Also in ensuring maximum comfort for the NCS Staff, offices and Quarters are being renovated and new ones acquired appropriately. The furnishing of the NCS Corporate Headquarters that have been commissioned previously, is a top priority and very soon occupation will take place.

It is often said “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy’’. To distance the NCS from this, the CGC has introduced enhanced personnel welfare programs. The introduction of the work –life balance (WLB) is a Case in point.

The initiative inaugurated at the Customs Headquarters in September 23, 2023 is to promote mental and physical being of officers and men of the NCS. The CGC believed in “balancing for a better tomorrow’’ thereby representing the NCS’s Commitment to Consolidation, collaboration and Innovation. The CGC during the inauguration stated that, with over 32 Clinics and Medical Centers in NCS formation nationwide to take care of health needs, it was worthwhile to have a more sustainable approach which lies in the effort to a healthy work-life balance among Officers.

This initiative will entail the headquarters of the NCS and all Commands, taking some hours off in a day on a weekly basis, to engage in different physical fitness exercises that will characterize the work-life balance. This no doubt would sustain optimal performance in the NCS.

Related to this, is the plan by the CGC to establish a Customs Polo club in recognition of the efforts of some Officers who distinguished themselves by coming victorious in a tournament at the Nigeria Army Polo Resort in Abuja. The NCS Polo shirt was also unveiled by the CGC as efforts to maintain Customs dominance in the sports Circle.

The benefits derived from the National health insurance scheme as provided by the Songhai health service provider, which was discontinued at a time for non-contributory performance were addressed by Adeniyi. To this end, the NCS went into Collaboration with Songhai Health Trust for effective health insurance. The benefits of this cannot be over-emphasized, as Officers will enjoy a Cost-effective means of high-quality health Care to be provided via Songhai.

Human Development

Adeniyi’s flair for human development is unequaled. This is underscored by the fact of his background as a young officer where he held sway in the Public Relations Unit of the NCS, spending well over 10 years as its mouthpiece His stints of over a decade in the unit earned him a Master in Customs Administration having unprecedented knowledge of the workings of the service.

This feat cemented by his other Accomplishments, Skills, Service Decorations, and educational attainments culminating in reputed published academic works became the background to his appreciation of the need to enhance human development in the NCS.

To this end, a Comprehensive model for the development of officers was adopted and pursued vigorously by the Human Resources Department. A booster to this, is the merit-based appointment of an academically inclined personality and a member of the national institute DCG Greg Itotoh, as the head of the department. The training/Courses/workshops undertaken in the last year are too numerous but suffice to mention some here to buttress our point. They include:-

  • Rules of Origin workshop co-organized by the Alliance for Trade Facilitation, GIZ, and the WCO
  • Training on harmonized system coding and Customs laboratories to improve duty collection and enhance service efficiency.
  • Workshop on installation and operation of VRT system.
  • Training of over 300 officers to upscale Service Delivery
  • WCO Technical Support in Capacity building on Tariff Classification and Rules of Origin Towards the implementation of Advance Ruling.
  • Leadership course in operations, security, and force protections
  • National Institute Strategic Leadership Courses on Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Customized Capacity Building for the entire protocol, Public Relations, and Media team: protocol, media, press, and modern public Relations Techniques veritable Tools for an improved public service Communication Delivery.
  • Training on data generation, Analytics, and storage
  • Course on Basic Data Analytics and machine learning
  • Course on modern technology and artificial intelligence in Border management.
  • Policy strategy and leadership course at National Institute.
  • Policy Basic Conflict management course and work place conflict and reconciliation
  • 21st-century policing, Capacity Building Techniques and Brand Management for security image makers
  • Filing, Recording keeping, and Archive management course
  • Foreign policy school
  • Leadership and Communication skills Training “ A Participatory Approach to leadership Development and Best Practices
  • Training on occupational health and safety management

The training /Courses/Workshops are in various fields of operations, and demonstrate the sincerity of the Adeniyi’s led management to develop the workforce thereby enhancing professionalism. The climax is the grand plan of  Adeniyi to build a specialized University for Customs.

His dream for the Institution is that of a robust curriculum that will deliver the kind of objectives set by the NCS. The University is to draw support from other Customs administrations, established universities, and the National Defence College.

Empowering Women.

This is a high target of the Administration and is basically through the auspices of the Customs Officers Wives’ Association (COWA). The Association was established on August 13, 2009, to promote the welfare of Customs Officer’s families and foster bonds of friendship, unity, and understanding among the wives of officers.

The Glorious era of the late Abdullahi’s administration nurtured it to an enviable height, but unfortunately, it became comatose after his Administration. The coming of Adeniyi however, brought life to COWA. The formal re-launch was on Thursday, February, 15, 2024 which saw the convergence of members, stakeholders, government officials  and business moguls and diplomats. With the blessing of the CGC, it was an opportunity to bring COWA’S activities to the forefront and to perform the Investiture of patrons, patronesses and to raise funds in support of the less privileged in the society.

The support for COWA no doubt is derived from Adeniyi’s belief in gender sensitiveness and inclusiveness, which seeks to promote unity among everybody ensuring they are treated fairly regardless of their gender. This was demonstrated in his appointment of women into strategic and vital positions across various units and commands, which he views as a significant achievement in attaining gender balance.

Since the rebirth of COWA, it has made remarkable progress under the leadership of the wife of the CGC, Mrs Kikelomo Adeniyi. At the maiden executive/ management meeting on November 6, 2023, she hit the ground running by articulating various plans for the less privileged, especially widows in the spirit of rebranding COWA. In actualizing this and in line with the renewed hope initiative of President  Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, COWA has in the last year set the ambition or  plan to undertake  the following  projects:-

  • Extended Corporate social responsibility (CSR) to a Lagos orphanage.
  • Unveiled vision to empower 100,000 women and to combat drug abuse, out of which the pilot program has empowered 1,200 women.
  • Provision of food and other humanitarian support to about 100,000 less privileged individuals across the Country before the end of 2024.
  • Plans to establish Nursery, primary and secondary schools across Major border Communities and even cities and towns to offer decent, qualitative and affordable education to children and wards of serving and retired Customs Officers
  • To establish a fully equipped ultra-modern skills Acquisition centre in Abuja were its members will receive regular vocational training and re-training.

In order to achieve the above laudable plans of COWA, the launch of the 500 million Naira support funds becomes imperative to cushion the impact of current hardship on the vulnerable Nigerians.  The support of the NCS deriving from the seal of approval from the CGC is also Commendable.

At the re-launch, he reiterated the support of the NCS to COWA by saying that “ we will heartedly support the revival and relaunch of COWA activities, the service is supporting them in building schools, supporting widows, and conducting medical outreach programs in border Communities, this initiative significantly enhances our Corporate social responsibility program and demonstrate our holistic approach to community engagement”.

This is hope-raising for COWA and as Mrs Kikelomo Adeniyi continues to be the rallying point for officers’ wives,  we believe it will be a forum for economic and social empowerment creating strong support for individual families and by extension contribute to a stronger NCS.

Award for excellence.

As a reward for Excellence Award is not a new terrain for Adeniyi. It was hard work and excellence that earned him the Award of National honour of member of the Federal Republic. With his appointment as  CGC and subsequent feats, several Award have been bestowed, but to mention a few include:-

  • Certificate of Excellence for his first 100 days of impactful public relations at the 2024 SABRE African Public Relations Association (APRA) Annual Conference at Cote d’Ivoire
  • Named the Public sector Global CEO of the week by the Public sector magazine in February 2024.

CONCLUSION

When a year ago, Adeniyi was appointed CGC, when he was away in Brussels but commenced work immediately was a clear hint of how he was to operate with no room for lapses. There is no doubt, that he proved his mettle by the sweeping changes as encapsulated in the write-up.

It is good he came, saw and will definitely conquer so as to continue to take the NCS to the next level, by promoting economic growth and National development through Collaboration, Innovation and strategic measures, which has become the hallmark of this achiever to mark his one outstanding year in office.

Compt. Musa Omale PhD is presently at the National Institute, kuru, Jos.