By Timothy Paul Okorocha
His appointment was heralded by unusual jubilation from the rank and file of the staff as well as from across maritime stakeholders in the country. The joy which knew no bounds was primarily premised on the fact that the new Customs Act which prescribed that henceforth no “outsider” must be allowed to mount the headship of the Nigeria Customs Service as its Comptroller General.
Secondly, inspite of what some loyalists see as Col Ali’s achievements especially as regards officers’ promotion coming in due season; insiders believe that Ali militarised the Service right from the secondment of a serving Brigadier General Buhari as his Principal Staff Officer (PSO), professionalism was not given its pride of place as no one can give what he does not have. Ali therefore, was seen as someone who canot deliver on Customs Reformation, as a soldier retiring as a Colonel.
The Service was ‘marking time’ waiting for when the ‘sound of change’ will be heard from the new government. Under Ali, you may not have all the democratic rights to air your professional views, and where one musters the courage to do so, it may fall on deaf ears. No wonder the change occasioned by President Tinubu’s announcement of this thorough-bred officer-Wale Adeniyi received a thunderous applause from across the country’s strata of the society.
The new Comptroller General comes with a rich resume, professional competence; a man who has seen it all-having worked with more than 5 Comptrollers General. What else has he not learnt under the tutelage of his former bosses. Moreso, as a Customs Image maker spanning more than two decades, he has laundered the Image of the Service in times of good and bad seasons, coming out stronger and cleaner as an agency of the government.
Though, he was in the Brussels for the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) meeting when his appointment was announced, together with his boss then-Col Ali who had to abandon the meeting midway to return to nigeria, Adeniyi had to stay back to complete the proceedings of the session before he returned to Nigeria. Soon after he returned; the new Comptroller General hit the ground running touring all the Customs zones in the country to get appraisal of the challenges on ground and proffer solutions immediately. The touring was a semblance of a patient requiring emergency attention.
At the last count, he has completed official visits to the zone ‘A’ in Lagos; he has also gone to the Northern axis of the Jibia border with Niger dishing out directives on border closure- a fall out of the military coup in Niger which forced the ECOWAS to declare some economic sanctions against the junta. Adeniyi breezed into Rivers and Bayelsa for some official engagements with a balance of the Eastern zone which will come on board any time this week.
The new Customs boss, having the blood of an Image maker running in him first organised separate dinner sessions for the members of the Nigeria Guild of Editors, as well Maritime Journalists to enlist their support in the onerous task of him making a success of this rare opportunity. In return, the members of the fourth Estate of the Realm have promised to work with him all the way.
In just two months running, the new Customs helmsman has proved that he is equal to the task, full of energy, a young man with charisma, a distant opposite of what the Service and Nigerians have witnessed in the last eight years.
Adewale Bashir Adeniyi is a round peg in a round hole. He has established an adminitrative style that will convince anyone that he is nobody’s stooge but a professional that can take decisions for the development of the Service.
Having studied the needs of the management, he quickly recommended and got presidential approval for the promotion of three new Deputy Comptrollers General and three Assistant Comptrollers General to beef up the management and achieve the set mandates given to him to turn around the fortunes of the Service. Having an eye for hardwork; he picked DCG’s Hamisu and Okun, as well as Barrister Alajogun and Olumoh as ACG’s to drive the process.
Needless to add that these newly promoted officers have all paid their dues.
Alajogun’s elevation was pleasantly a gift fom God having been serially boxed in-and-out to a corner by the previous administration. A man of great intelligence, with Customs rules in his finger tips, was quickly identified by the new CG.
With the initial networking marched with management skills and restructuring, the Comptroller General has laid a solid foundation to achieve unprecedented feats. No doubt, his international connections will turn around the fortunes of the Service sooner than later.
In the last 30 years, it is on record that no new Customs helmsman has fully toured the zones of the country in quick succession as just undertaken by this member of the Federal Republic. Coupled with the touring of the zones, he simultaneously briefed the press with striking seizures of dangerous goods, arms and ammunition intercepted by his men.
It will not be a surprise to see that in the next two years, the revenue of the Service will jump in unprecedented manner, judging from the strategies on ground now to do real trade facilitation by remmoving all the encumberances militating against trade. The standard operating procedure on Advance ruling just introduced will help a great deal, while giving Customs job a human face that it deserves without compromising.
In three months of your ascension, this Comptroller General has shown the way with stability, no suspicion, no tribal oppression, no impunity. It will be appreciated that his policy radiates in the subsequent promotion exercise and new intakes of recruits, where no tribe dominates the other. Where secret recruitments are abolished while those who passed promotion examinations are duly promoted without ‘trading’ with their ranks.
On this premise, we will hold this management accountable for all its actions, positive or negative. It is expected that as the Adeniyi’s management gets to its cruuising poiint, there will be no turbulence in the way and manner the foremost government agency is run. This management cannot fail.