The indiscipline, lack of respect for superior officers, preferential postings and impunity among junior officers in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has become a thing of the past as Col. Hameed Ali took over the reins of the service four months ago, a customs Public Relations Officer says.
Our correspondent gathered that senior officers were constrained from giving orders to junior officers who had backing from the service’s head office in Abuja and where it is given, would not be adhered to.
A Chief Superintendent of Customs (CSC) Steve Okonmah, who is the Public Relations Officer of the NCS at PTML Command, said that the coming of Ali as the CGC has brought some level of sanity and discipline to the Nigeria customs as Area Controllers now call the shots at their various commands.
This according to the image maker was alien to the service before the coming of Col. Ali as postings of officers were determined by senior officers in Abuja thereby making the senior officers at command levels lose respect before their junior ranked officers under their jurisdiction.
“Before, some people would tell you that we are posted here from Abuja and so, we are accountable to Abuja but today, the discipline is gaining full roots in customs.
“Controllers are now in charge of their commands; anything that goes wrong is in their neck. So, nobody will tell you today that I am from Abuja or from this. I think it is part of the discipline but like I said, he has started reviving the service, he added.
Okonmah who said it was difficult to give a command to a junior officer before now recounted how someone once called from Abuja on phone to insult a Deputy Controller because his son was not given enough money.
“Before, you cannot talk to one star officer. I am aware of a scene whereby someone from Abuja called a DC and abused him that his son told him that he is not giving him enough envelopes,” he said.
According to him, the recent reshufflement carried out at the command was always an effort in futility under the immediate past administration, adding that officers affected by reshufflement in the past would always call their superior officers in Abuja who would frustrate the attempt.
“Reshufflement has been done in PTML now, let the person call the CG and tell him that his child is in so and so place and will need a change.
“How many times have we done rosters, finished it and it has not come out and it will not come out, more than a hundred telephone calls and they will only tell you who asked you to do that roster, who told you to reshuffle in the first place and it dies like that.
“Tell me is it such junior officers that you want to obey you? But for the little time this man (Ali) has been there, I don’t know of tomorrow, he has brought discipline here”, he stated.
Speaking further, he rebuffed the claim that the retired Deputy Comptrollers-General were forced to retire even as he maintained that the right people were being put in the right positions.
The customs officer who said he had gotten 93 awards in his foray as image maker of customs wondered why the retired DCGs who wrote and signed their resignation letters could turn back to accuse anyone of forcing them into retirement blaming the press for overheating the service.
He said, “Their statement is that we have decided to voluntarily resign to create more rooms for others to come up. I can bring it out and you will read it. If they have said this and it was carried like that on facebook and everywhere, then would somebody now come at the end of the day to say you were forced out; are you contradicting your write-up?”
He explained further that the new CG believes in seniority which he said informed the recent appointments made by him into the ranks of DCGs and ACGs.
He stated, “Look at the appointments he is making; he is putting a round peg in a round hole. There is one thing you notice there, this man believes in seniority. Watch the whole people he put there, they are old ACGs.
“Is banke not an old ACG? Is Adegoke not an old ACG? Is Inyam not an old ACG?” He queried.
On the 34 officers who were sacked, he said, “Go through the list of those who have been asked to go, majority of them have less than six months to go, some three months, the maximum there is about nine months to go but all that is being reported is that they have been asked to go. What is wrong in it? We are shouting unemployment everywhere.”
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