The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) will soon embark on mass training and retraining of its personnel, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, the Comptroller-General of custom, said on Monday.
Ali made this known during his visit to the headquarters of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Lagos.
He said that the bulk of the customs’ budget for 2017 was earmarked for the training and retraining programme aimed at building the competences of the officers.
Ali said that training and retraining of the officers became imperative in order to equip them to meet the challenges of modern customs’ operations.
“This year, the bulk of customs’ budget will be spent on the training and retraining of officers.
“We must all realise that in the Nigeria Customs Service and indeed customs all over the world, things are dynamic.
“Things keep changing, new protocols come up; the laws are amended and new equipment also comes up.
“So, without the training and retraining, there is no way we can meet the best practices expected from us,’’ he said.
The customs chief said that the service had installed Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools in all its offices to ease the operations of personnel and improve efficiency generally.
Ali said that he had received assurances from the Federal Government on the delivery of scanners and other equipment to further ease the operations of the service.
The customs chief said he was committed to transforming the service, adding that plans were underway to reduce the bureaucracy and protocols involved in clearing goods at the ports.
Ali said that his visit to NAGAFF was to interact with the freight forwarders and build a strong synergy between the association and the customs.
He said that a good working relationship between the association and the customs was necessary to interface on some of the issues affecting maritime industry and arrive at “a win-win situation’’.
Ali urged NAGAFF to help customs in the fight against corruption by exposing and reporting corrupt personnel for appropriate sanctions.
“However, just as there are bad eggs in the customs, there are also bad eggs among the freight forwarders. Really, it takes two to tango.
“For example, the 661 pump action guns that we seized had the connivance of some customs officers as well as some freight forwarders.
“Six hundred and sixty-one guns in the hands of wrong people can cause instability in a state.
“So, I want to appeal to freight forwarders to do their business with the security and interest of the nation on their minds, “ he said.
The comptroller-general urged freight forwarders to avoid false declaration of consignments, saying that the practice posed danger to the country`s security and undermined customs revenue.
He assured NAGAFF that customs would from time to time interact with it to ensure that their operational challenges were surmounted.
Earlier, the acting President of NAGAFF, Mr Increase Uche, thanked the comptroller-general for his visit.
He urged Ali to put in place appropriate mechanisms to improve professionalism among the freight forwarders and implement policies that would improve efficiency at the nation’s ports.