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Upgrade or risk stagnation – Customs boss mandates officers

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retired), says the promotion of officers will henceforth be tied to completion of a training course to meet international best practice.

According to Ali, the training course will be in the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada.

He said this at the graduation of 50 students of Senior Course 6, Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College in Abuja on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the staff college was inaugurated in 2011, to prepare middle-level management officers for higher responsibilities.

He said that the directive became necessary following the need for the service to upgrade it’s human capacity to meet international best practice.

“Henceforth, the promotion of officers will be tied to attending this course of study, any officer that fails to attend this course will find it difficult to be promoted.”

The comptroller-general said that it was imperative for officers to upgrade their skills to fit into the numerous changes going on in the service.

He commended the graduands for successful graduation, saying, “we believe this will culminate in the modernisation of the service.”

Ali urged the graduands to go a step further by being outstanding on the field.

On reforming the service, Ali said a concession was recently signed on its modernisation programme to ensure a fully activated E-customs service

“With all that is being put in place in the service, hopefully in the next three years, every activity will be paperless.

“This is a wake up call for officers who are not computer literate to take up courses to upgrade their knowledge of Information and Communication Technology.

“The service will give officers the opportunity to upgrade,” he said.

Ali, however, commended the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who is also the Chairman, Board of Customs for her support in repositioning the service.

He also commended the management for the workable policies being put in place to upgrade the service.

The minister, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event said it was evident that the customs service prioritises human capital development, which was a major development index.

“The comptroller-general’s holistic approach to capacity building and upward progression of officers speaks well of his commitment to an effective customs service.,” she said.

The minister, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry,  Aliyu Ahmed, said the course highlight showed that it was rigorous and an  engaging period of study.

She urged  participants to showcase the knowledge acquired, adding “your contributions toward the service begins right now.”

Ahmed also called on the college to rejig its curriculum to remain relevant in carrying out its mandate.

On the economy, the minister said that more needed to be done to grow the non-oil sector, while making export more competitive in the international market.

She urged the customs service to leverage on the opportunity provided by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to ensure trade facilitation.

The Commandant of the staff college, Adewale Adeniyi, commended the graduating students for successfully completing the five months course.

Adeniyi said that the graduands took up several management courses and visited some African countries such as Senegal, Togo, Tanzania, Egypt.

He advised the graduands to exhibit strength of character and selfless service, noting that students and officers should pay adequate attention to their health for optimal performance.

The commandant warned against sedentary lifestyle, which often led to obesity, high blood pressure and diabetic.

”Officers must maintain a certain body mass index to perform their duties effectively.

“Henceforth, it will almost be a sacrilege to see officers with outrageous body mass index,” he warned.

The commandant gave assurance that the college would work toward awarding degree programmes in specialised areas, including tax administration.

On challenges, he said that the college lived in fear of attack, following issues of insecurity in the area in recent times.

He, however, disclosed that effort was being made by the service and other security agencies to ensure adequate security in and around the school premises.

NAN reports that high point of the event was presentation of certificates and award of excellence to graduands.

Some of the awards are; Best in Shooting Range and Best in Service Paper Topic.

Meanwhile, the graduation was graced by representatives from the National Open University, the Nigerian Army and Nigeria Police Force.

The college runs two principal courses, the Senior Staff Course and the Junior Staff Course.(NAN)

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