Even as top Customs top brass grapple with technical issues militating against the economically rewarding deployment of the Vehicle Identification Number, VIN, there are indications of turbulence in administrative matters likely to significantly jeopardize operational efficiency of Customs if not immediately looked into and resolved.
This Administrative hoopla has been brought to public attention by the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, AYCF, reechoeing the need for the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, to reconsider the policy of elevating its officers who joined Customs between 2009 and 2015 and leaving behind those who joined the Service between 1992 and 1994.
The Arewa youths are of the view that officers of the Service who have spent close to thirty years on same rank, through no fault of theirs must be given right of fair hearing and treated justlyⁿ
The AYCF put the blame squarely on the doorstep of the Federal Government which placed embargo on recruitment within the period.
In a statement issued by its National President, Yerima Shettima in Kaduna, the group said “It has come to our notice that the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is set to pursue a policy of exclusion in the promotion of its personnel, based on illegitimate criteria”.
“We gathered that the plan in the offing is to exclusively promote personnel who joined the service between the year 2009 and 2015″
Decrying the selective promotion, the AYCF said “Customs officers who have been on same rank for decades must be considered for promotion if the principles of Justice, Fairness and Equity have a place in our society”.
“The action of the Service is now predicated on the pedestrian argument that there has been no fresh recruitment into the Service between 1992 and 1994, up until 2015 when the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan lifted the embargo”.
To this end the Arewa Youths noted that the gap created by the embargo is not the fault of the officers who gave all of their mental and physical energies in the service of this nation for over three decades.
“We find totally unacceptable, any policy that will allow promotion of Customs Service personnel through the backdoor”.
“We expect that the philosophy of respect for procedure, which President Muhammadu Buhari has been known for should be allowed to prevail in the circumstance”.
Expressing its disappointment over the non promotion of some officers in the Service, the AYCF notes further;
“We are disturbed that the Nigeria Customs Service could even contemplate this selective and unprofessional method of promoting its personnel without recourse to established procedure”.
“We find it quite disappointing that the NCS would pursue this unacceptable method, apparently without recourse to the office of the Minister of Finance and National Planning or even the advice of either the office of Head of Service of the Federation or that of Secretary to the Government of the Federation”.
“We call on the National Assembly to also step in, to ensure that this controversial and dangerously selective policy does not see the light the day.”
The AYCF categorically stated that in view of the importance of the NCS to national security, the DSS needs to be part of the process that will promote respect for the rule of law in rewarding personnel of the Service in general and on the philosophy of first-among-equals.
The Arewa youths therefore urged the Service to consider the promotion of officers employed by the Service from 1990 to date from the Rank and File to their rank of Assistant Comptrollers and beyond.
They say this will create a sense of belonging which will bring about discipline among officers in the Service.
Fundamentally, the AYCF observed that the old officers who did not rise in rank over the long period of time have been very diligent and committed to the Service but, through no fault of theirs remain stuck in rank.
“It was the gross act of corruption, nepotism and favouritism in Nigeria Customs Service that stagnated the promotion of the old officers”
The Arewa youths averred that management of the Service is paving way for their recently employed children from the year 2009 to date.
They therefore call on the the Federal Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency look into this matter with the deserved sense of urgency for national good.
The AYCF declared that the automatic one step ahead of only newly employed officers will destroy the moral of experienced officers in the Service.
“The consequences of such action or inaction will be catastrophic to the Nigeria Customs Service” the AYC said.
When contacted on the unfortunate development, the National Public Relations Officer of the NCS, DC Timi Bomodi said “The Service is looking at options to bridge its generational gap occasioned by years of not recruiting. That is only one of its options. Speculating on the intentions of Customs Management is at best a distraction for now”.
As challenges and issues assume a worrisome projectile for the Service, concerned stakeholders are calling for a thorough reevaluation of all issue and address them in the interest of socio cultural national cohesion and wellbeing.