A retired Customs Chief, Mr. Joseph Alajogun, has expressed confidence in the newly appointed acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Adeniyi, to regain the lost glory of the Service and instill much needed discipline, hardworking and loyalty in the officers and men.
It would be recalled that at a well attended ceremony, Vice President Kashim Shettima, recently decorated Adewale Bashir Adeniyi, in Abuja.
Alajogun, who served Oyo/Osun Customs Area Command for several years as Officer In Charge (OC) Operations, was full of excitement with the appointment of Adewale Adeniyi as Customs Service boss, a development he described as a turning point in the life of the nation’s Customs Service.
He said ever since then, the Customs Service has had to rely on oxygen to breath, battling to remain afloat with gross indiscipline, misconduct and brazen corruption among its ranks and file.
While speaking in Ibadan, Alajogun lamented how the military connived with some unscrupulous elements to snuff life out of the Nigeria Customs from the 1980s till the era of Col Ahmed Ali (rtd.)
He however lauded the effort of the immediate past Comptroller General of Customs , Col. Ahmed Ali in the areas of staff welfare, including accelerated promotion, increment of salary and emoluments, building and renovation of staff quarters and revenue generation.
“Yes, he has tried. He has improved the wages and what have you. The welfare of the officers has been taken care of because he promoted them, he gave them good package, salary wise. So they don’t have anything to complain. We did not get something of such when we were there but I appreciate him for that. He gave promotions, he gave out money to them. He has tried, he has really tried despite the fact that it was not his job.
“He made sure that he gave what he thinks is right. We didn’t have such opportunities then. I stayed on one rank for twelve years, no promotions, no training, no exams, no failing, nothing but now I see all those people I trained being promoted. In a twinkle of an eye, you’ll see one just promoted to Chief Suprintendent. They will even pass the person that trained them. So Ali tried in the area of promotion,” he stated.
Alajogun who was famous for unequalled mass seizures of smuggled tokunbo vehicles , trucks, barrels of petroleum products, ammunitions and firearms etc., declared that with the appointment of Adewale Adeniyi , discipline, transparency, and accountability would return to the Service.
Narrating the appalling condition of the Service during the era of John Shagaya , Alajogun popularly known as “Kokoro Customs” (the key to Customs Service), said it was John Shagaya at the helm of affairs, that brought the Nigeria Customs Service to its knees.
According to the ex- Customs Service Chief, “that was how they finished the customs. Now, custom cannot hold a checkpoint without DSS to join, without Soldiers to join, Nigeria Security Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) , even scout. May God help the Nigeria Customs Service.”
He said, “John Shagaya was a smuggler. The customs officers arrested him and prosecuted him. He came back with retaliation and he removed those who were Customs officers then. He brought in some people with him and promoted them from level 3 to level 10 or so.
” To fill the vacancies, he brought them in and gave them high ranking positions without knowing nothing about the job and that was the beginning of the end. I can call it the last straw that broke the carmel’s back. They came with the intention of making money and they were making the money. The older ones they met were not trained like that. The older ones could not breath again. Because they came to make lots of money, nothing concerned them with the revenue collection.
“That came to the time they started recruiting their people in 1988. They got their people and they had shown them that it is money they were there to make, they will have to settle one another. That was the beginning of the end. That made customs not to be able to breath again. When they brought the likes of Diko and Co, the job was still breathing but when Baba brought this Ali of a man, he collapsed the job totally.
“And with his exit now, this new one that has been part and parcel of the system will effect the needed change. We expect more change from this man now because he has known the job. He has been in Abuja, he knew everything they have been doing. So he knows how to deal with them.”
Notwithstanding the damage, Alajogun who spoke glowing of the newly appointed Controller General, assured that Adewale Adeniyi , who rose through the Public Relations office of the Service, “will restore the discipline, then the lost glory will follow.”