By Maduabuchi Nmeribeh/Kano
The acting Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, on Thursday in Kano, expressed optimism that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s investment policy will bring an end to smuggling of contra-band goods into the country.
The Customs boss spoke during the Passing Out Parade for 956 General Duty Junior Officers, who ended their Basic Course 1/2023 training at Customs Training College, Goron Dutse, Kano.
He said President Tinubu has demonstrated readiness to bring to end the illicit career of smugglers, through his renewed vigour to bring in investors and rebuild Nigeria’s economy.
According to him, “I think smuggling, generally, is an act of sabotage; and Mr. President has demonstrated his readiness to give some kind of vigour, renewed vigour, renewed hope in our economy.
“When you look at some of the policies that he has taken in terms of making businesses thrive, bringing in investors and things like that—-so when you are having investors and we are having these efforts to rebuild our economy, then their would be no room for smugglers or those who want to sabotage us.”
Mr. Adeniyi further stated that fighting smugglers and smuggling activities deserves concerted efforts from all well-meaning Nigerians.
“So, it has to be a kind of concerted efforts by everybody concerned, particularly, those communities living around our borders. And this was why I went to so many of them.
” I visited them, I had engagement with them. I seek for their support, I seek for their protection, I seek for their understanding. I made them to understand that our economy will not survive if we allow smugglers to continue to perpetrate their heinous crimes.
“We are happy that the narrative is changing gradually. I was in Shakti, in Oyo state, some weeks ago, and I saw how the traditional rulers and leaders in those communities came out en masse, not only to welcome us, but to give us assurance that they would be ready to support us in all our training activities and in our operations.
“The story is not different when I went to the north-western borders. I had very serious engagements with members of the communities. We are hopeful that with their support, we will win significantly the war against smuggling.”
The Comptroller-General expressed delight at the performance of the General Duty Officers on parade, adding that, ” we have a very beautiful parade. It is a parade that shows that they are well-trained. It shows their capacity to handle situation. It shows comportment. It shows physical endurance. It also demonstrates resilience.
“Despite the weather condition, we saw a very beautiful parade at stake. So, I want to charge them to continue with that kind of spirit, the spirit of, ‘we are ready to do it,’ in spite of the challenges, and in spite of the obstacles around us.”
He acknowledged deficit in the officers’ capacity building in terms of handling and use of arms and ammunitions, but assured that recent efforts by the Nigeria Customs Service, in that direction, are yielding fruitful results.
According to him, “we have seen it ourselves that in the past, there have been the challenge of deficit in capacity; either they were not adequately trained, or we did not give enough attention to it.
“But the incidences of the past few months have challenged us to ensure that we entrust our arms and ammunitions in the care of those who are properly trained to do so.
“Those who have the capacity to do so; and those who have the right sense of mind, the right mental presence and capacity to do so.
From what we have seen today, we are at the beginning of that journey. These people are well-trained. They have the passion to do the job, and they are ready.”
The Comptroller-General, however, reminded the General Duty Junior Officers that: “It is upon your shoulders that the responsibility of meeting the aspirations of our great nation rests. I want you to be mindful of the fact that your recruitment into the Nigeria Customs Service was merit-based.
“You were chosen from among over half a million applications received at the initial stage of the exercise. You have earned your place here, and it comes with great responsibility.
“You are expected to serve your nation with diligence, discipline, and the highest level of integrity at all times. Upholding these values is not just a duty but a necessity. Always be smart in appearance, for it reflects the pride you take in your role as customs officers. Be the embodiment of excellence and service in every aspect of your conduct.
“In the course of your careers, you will be exposed to further training in various areas, including regimentation and weapon handling. I emphasize the need to study the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) diligently and take them seriously. These SOPs are your guide to ensuring effective customs operations.
“Your journey will also include engagement in joint operations with other agencies. Embrace these opportunities to learn and adapt from diverse experiences and training. Be open to new challenges and constantly strive to broaden your horizons.
” We are living in extraordinary times where technology plays a pivotal role in customs operations. As you join the Customs Service at this juncture, your role in this digital era is crucial. Develop a deep understanding of technological advancements and leverage them to enhance our efficiency and effectiveness. While technology is essential, always remember the human element in your interactions. Treat everyone with respect and fairness.
“I urge you to be proactive in seeking continuous learning and self- improvement. Stay informed about the latest developments in technology and customs regulations. Seek opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills. Learning is a lifelong journey, and through knowledge, we empower ourselves to excel.”
In his address, the Commandant of the Customs Training College, Mr. Rasheed Adahunse said: “These Junior Officers graduating today were found suitable in learning and character. It is pertinent to state that this Basic Course 1/2023 commenced on the 22nd of March, 2023, and the skills displayed by the graduands were mastered within this short period along with academic activities.
“The training graduates covered topics on Enforcement, Revenue, Valuation, Export and Import Procedures; Passenger Selection. Parcel Post, Administration, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Civil Relations and many more other courses to mention but a few. Examinations were conducted to ascertain their level of assimilation and were also graded.
“On regimental/physical activities, they were trained on foot and arm drills including shooting range exercise.
“To master the drills and excel in academic activities within six months is a great achievement on the part of the committed and dedicated trainers as well as the graduands. The graduands here today were found to be highly disciplined and always ready to learn.