Knowledge As Catalyst For Customs Excellence

Long before delegates to the 2011 World Customs and Trade Forum held by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in Guangzhou, China from November 24 to 25, 2011, came out with a communiqué on the importance of knowledge as a catalyst for Customs excellence, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) had since recognised this fact.

The determination of the Service to take charge of all aspects of its operations has continued to grow stronger as capacity building of officers and men continues to take centre stage. The Service management has continued to promote the acquisition of knowledge for its officers and men through various training and re-training programmes both locally and abroad, having recognised the fact that quality information and reliable analysis on which they can base their strategic decision making in the course of their duty could not be overemphasised.

The Comptroller-General of the Service, Abdullahi Dikko, has continued to strengthen the delivery of capacity building, emphasising the development of skills, and the active establishment of a modern Customs culture and moral rebirth that would enable officers and men, and the Service in general, fulfill its statutory obligations through the provision of a high quality and efficient service in line with 21st century Customs dictates.

Officers have received trainings covering all aspects of Customs operations from legal requirements to trainings on leadership and increased understanding of knowledge of Customs control and clearance requirements.

Partnerships have also been forged with relevant security agencies which the Service has been working with to analyse and evaluate all avenue of smuggling and revenue loss with a view to combating the crime in the overall interest of the nation’s economy while also creating favourable outcomes which are mutually beneficial to both agencies. The enhanced enforcement and coordinated law enforcement actions against all illicit trade, including the smuggling of drugs, arms and ammunition as well as other forms of contraband goods have in recent times received a boost due to these strategic partnerships.

Capacity building focusing on the acquisition of knowledge in order to promote trade development, trade compliance, trade facilitation, and thus economic prosperity, has also received top priority in the NCS. The Service is committed to the enhancement of global trade security and facilitation as embodied in the WCO’s Revised Kyoto Convention with a view to achieving improved, effective, efficient and integrated modern Customs services.

The Nigerian Customs Service has also continued to expand its efforts to improve the sharing of material information between it and other Customs administrations.

Dikko while speaking at a training programme for transformational leadership tagged “Becoming a Multi-Dimensional Leader,” which was attended by 38 senior officers of the NCS in Toronto, Canada, charged the participants to take advantage of the opportunity and learn the modern best practices in the interest of transforming the Nigerian Customs operations. He reiterated the willingness of his management team to continue developing the capacity of the officers and men, in order to raise the Nigerian Customs Service to a global standard.

The Customs boss maintained that the trainings embarked upon by the Service since his assumption of office was already bearing fruits as revenue collection now stands at an all time high of over N70 billion monthly collections, as against the all time high of N30 billion monthly collections before the coming on board of his administration.

Identifying that the greatest asset of any nation was the human resource, a co-sponsor at the training programme, Mr. Bill Nkemdirim of SAPID Shipping Agency, urged that no resources should be spared in developing the capacity of the workforce who are expected to take the nation to the next level.

He noted that any amount spent on the training or equipping of any regulatory or security agency would go a long way in creating a secured and fertile environment necessary for the growth of businesses in the country.

Restating his commitment to overhaul the Service, Dikko said: “one of the six point agenda of my administration is focused on maximising the potentials of the Service through capacity building… officers have to continuously expand their horizon through learning and training, only this would equip you to keep pace with the changing times. It is my belief that if you equip staff with essential knowledge in the course of achieving your overall objectives you are assured of maximum output.”

The programme which was a product of public, private partnership dealt extensively on topics such as fundamentals of leadership, the multi-dimensional leadership, innovation and creativity, leadership from the frontlines, and the strategic leader among others. Resource persons were drawn from some of the best institutions in the world such as Prof. John Pliniussen of the Queen’s University Ontario, Canada, Prof. Criss Ridder, of School of Business Emory University, Atlanta, USA, Nigerian born Canadian, Daniel Monehin, of Transformational Initiative Leadership Training (TILT) and a representative of the Canadian Border Services Agencies (CBSA) Mrs. Mauveen Dayrell-Johnson.

Similarly, while speaking through ACG, Enforcement and Drugs, Sunny Okpurhe, during a training programme for the legal officers which was particularly devoted to the issue of the amendment of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), the CGC said: “I beleive that the core of legal practice and as a civil servant is knowledge rooted in values and fair play.” While regretting instances which sometimes tarnish the image of the Service, resulting in immense criticism and disaffection, Dikko added “I beleive it is up to the Service as a whole to set the highest standard of work ethics, probity and integrity in public and personal life.”

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