Comptroller Edede: Fine officer, tightening the nozzle of revenue leakages at MMAC

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That Comptroller Emmanuel Edede will leave the Murtala Mohammed Airport Command (MMAC) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) better than he met it is not in doubt. This is because he is a man that is associated with result from his days in the lower cadre in the Service to this present position of the Controller of Customs.

Hailed from Abia State, South East Nigeria, Comptroller Edede has worked in so many Area Commands all over the federation before becoming a Controller. He has worked in Onne, Rivers state, Apapa Command in Lagos State, he has worked in the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU), he has worked in so many of the sensitive units and he has garnered so many experience both in enforcement and revenue which was why when he took over as Deputy Comptroller, he was able to handle one of the biggest terminals in Apapa where he did well. He has worked also at Harvey road, that is the Zonal Headquarters of the South West.

In 2015, he was promoted to a full-fledged Controller. He also worked at the customs printing press unit at Abuja. While he was working there, owing to his experience, he was asked to go and take charge of Adamawa/Taraba command. You will agree with me that Adamawa/Taraba is a volatile command owing to the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents there but because of his experience in enforcement, he did very well there and on the 25th of April, 2017, he was asked to come and take control of MMAC from the former Controller, Alana.

On assumption of office in April, he discovered that whereas the revenue collected by the command in April was a little above N4 billion which was within the range of the target given to the command by the service, there was a shortfall in the revenue collected by the command in the month of May, 2017, his first month in control of the command. This is so as the command collected a little above N3.5 billion.

Worried by the development, he set out to look out for what was responsible for the shortfall in revenue of the command in the first month of his taking control of the command. He did not search for too long before he stumbled on the answers; first according to a source in the command who spoke under the condition of anonymity because he had no permission to speak to the press, “some of the reasons he discovered were that immediately he took over, the general movement of officers, from Assistant Comptroller down to one star came out and you know what that means? It means that all of them were moving out. So, most of them have to move immediately and some that came, came from enforcement background and not from revenue. For them to come and take over in revenue means you have to start putting them through, enlightening them on what to do.

“After which, the two day agents’ strike came and you know, if they give you target, you have to break it down to daily, weekly and monthly so that you know how to guard yourself. With our target, we need to rake in nothing less than N120 million per day. You can imagine losing two days, almost three days and with the movement of officers. Also we had another two days off, that is the May Day and the Democracy Day. So, when you add all those things up, you see that, yes! There must be a reason the revenue came down.

“So, he is just trying to see how he is going to make it but good a thing, he had to start searching and he had to refer to the corresponding period which is May last year and he found out that even the May last year’s record was a little above N3 billion, about N3.2 billion or so. You can see that he even surpassed May last year’s record but notwithstanding, he was not happy with that because he doesn’t want to be identified with failure. He will always tell you that he doesn’t like failure which is why he is trying to see how he could go back to the range”.

The source went ahead to say that the Controller had also gone ahead to make an in-house research on the inflow of goods and had discovered that there was a shortfall on the inflow of cargo to the command which he was trying to ascertain the reason behind the shortfall adding,” Hopefully, before the end of this month, we may be back to the benchmark given to the command”.

The source continued,” The system has been computerized and just like going through the system to do some profiling, so, when you profile the system, you know where and how the leakages come. The command has different shades, we have NAHCO, we have SAHCOL, we have DHL and we have NIPOST, so, it is just a matter of profiling the shades so as to know, for example, when you profile NAHCO or SAHCOL, you should be able to know whether they are doing well or not and then you now find out the reason why the revenue is dropping. But if it is the inflow of goods, it is not our making because we can’t import and once we see any revenue, we collect the revenue. So, you now find out why the importers are not importing. It could be for a genuine reason, it could be that the economy is not moving well but if it is not about economy, you now find out why, in case they are diverting their cargoes to other airports, you need to find out why”.

On the agents/customs fracas that usually characterize the command, the source pointed out that the customs boss was aware of that which was why on assumption of duty at the command, before even reaching out to his sister agencies, he met with the clearing agents namely; the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) where they agreed on modalities to adopt to iron out areas of disagreement  adding that he had detailed an Assistant Comptroller who happened to be his Personal Assistant in-charge of Tariffs to handle cases arising from tariff and classification of goods arising from disagreement between the agents and the different O/Cs at the shades so as to ensure a rancor free command.

It is on record that the very week Comptroller Edede took over the command, two packages of suspected illicit drugs concealed in one package carried onboard Emirate Flight with Air waybill no: 176-3749-3562 detained on the 22nd of April, 2017, was found to contain the suspected parcel on examination done on the 26th of April, 2017. The concealed parcels were later handed over to the officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for testing and weighing. The suspected substance on testing was found to be Heroine weighing 5kg.

Although not much will be said to have been achieved by this new bride at MMAC but efforts are on to obliterate whatever bumpy beginning by Comptroller Edede as he also acknowledged the fact that more needed to be done, the reason he had been shying away from the press since assumption of duty at the command. This is because he believed in having tangible result to showcase before rushing to the press so as not to be seen as working on the pages of newspapers and on the screens of television without commensurate efforts on ground to match his media campaigns. All eyes are on this gentleman who has delivered and he is aware of this fact and I am sure he understands the enormity of expectations from him both at the customs’ headquarters and from the stakeholders and these expectations he cannot afford to disappoint.

On the other hand, it is said that a tree does not make a forest, with this in mind, the onus lie on the stakeholders, terminal operators, men and officers of the command and indeed the media to join hands with this gentleman and volunteer information that will help the command achieve its set objective because the success of Edede at MMAC translates to the success of the service and indeed the good and welfare of the entire citizens.

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