By Stephen Ubanna
When Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, announced that the last December , Customs promotion exercise would be based on merit and not quota system , not many people took him serious.
This is because promotion in the Customs Service over the years have been based on Quota system, thus making it difficult for bright officers to be promoted to the senior officers rank. But one major problem which past and present management of the Service had been unable to deal with is breaking into the ranks of a cabal which specialise in manipulating promotion results to favour Candidates who could afford it and fail those who merited it.
But nemesis caught up with the cartel in the just released last December promotion exercise organised and supervised by Ali, the current Customs boss. About 3000 Officers had been promoted across the board.
The Magazine learnt that the initial unofficial list of Assistant Comptrollers released shows that 27 of them scaled the merit list and therefore due for promotion to the next rank of Deputy Comptroller. The 27 Assistant Comptrollers were optimistic that going by the Comptroller General assurance , they would be decorated with the new rank of Deputy Comptroller. The joy in their heart knew no bound. This is because some of them had sat for the promotion examination twice or thrice but were not lucky.
There excellent performance in the Ali organised promotion examination gave them the impression that they have passed. They got it wrong. This is because some of the Assistant Comptrollers who passed the promotion examination could not find their names on the list that was released last Monday, April 10, 2017.
Investigation by the Magazine shows that one of the affected officers is the former acting deputy Comptroller in-charge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ahmed Shuaibu A very intelligent and resourceful officer, Shuaibu, according to a source was number eight on the merit list . There are several others who had similar problem.
The situation is so disturbing that Suleiman, the Deputy Comptroller General in-charge of Finance, Administration and Technical Services, FATS, at the instance of Ali, the Comptroller General has ordered a full scale investigation into the circumstance that led to the disappearance of the names from the original list.
It was gathered that since Ali ordered the investigation, officers in FATS Department and the Comptroller General’s office who had prepared the result are running helter- skelter to amend it before the master list is released next week. Suleiman was said to assured those whose names were mistakingly removed from the original list that it would be corrected.
Insiders told the Magazine that officers found to have master-minded the fraud would be punished as a deterent to others.While Shuaibu and others are looking up to the management to correct the mistake, Wale Adeniyi, a for Deputy Comptroller and the NCS National public Relations officer, who joined the Service in 1988 scaled the promotion hurdle to the enviable rank of Comptroller. Adeniyi , who has spent much of time in the Service was affected in the last mass transfer of Deputy Comptrollers. He was transferred to Apapa Command, which is overseeing the movement of goods in and out of the port.He is expected to move his office to NCS, Zone A, Yaba, Lagos, as two Comptrollers cannot head a Command.
Given his experience, he is expected to be given a Command to Head soon. Another lucky person is Joseph Attah, an Assistant Comptroller and the Service Image maker who has been elevated to the rank of Deputy Comptroller and a Confirmed National Image maker of Customs.
Another Officer, whose joy knows no bound is Dera Nnadi, an Assistant Comptroller , now promoted to the enviable rank of Deputy Comptroller. The Imo – born Customs officer has spent much of his years in the Service in the public Releations. He was said to have 13 years in the public Relations and eight years in the Customs Headquarters. At the Headquarters, he was made the Assistant Comptroller in-charge of tailoring, thus wasting his talent and training which he has received over the years in Customs operations.
The reecent transfer of Assistant Comptrollers saw him been moved to Tin-can Island Command. As at last Friday, he has not collected his Staff Order in readiness to report at his new Command. Many Officers who knew him at Apapa Command when he was the Public Relations Officer see him as an asset to Tincan Island Command because of his wealth of experience and passion against corruption.
Perhaps, one officer who would ever remain grateful for his promotion is Attah , Jerome an Assistant Superintendent and FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Spokesman. Attah started Customs Public Relations work at the Headquarters. He joined the Service in 2009, when Dikko , the then Comptroller General got the presidential nod to recruit new Officers. He was among the 5,000 Officers recruited by the Administration in 2009.
Holding forth the Public Relations Department of the biggest FOU in the country the young Customs Officer has proved that he can do the job. H e has saved the Command from several controversies.
But for the insistence of Ali that the right thing must be done some of the senior officers would have penetrated the ranks of FATS to find their postings to Apapa, Tincan Island, Onne, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Zone B,Kaduna, Port Multi-services terminal Limited, PTML, Onne Seme, Ogun and MMIA . Many believe that Ali’s Presidential mandate to sanitise the Customs is achieving the desired purpose. This is evident going by the way he has handled the transfer and promotion of Officers so far.