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Anxiety in Customs Over Screening Of Certificates

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Friday, May 13th, 2016
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There is anxiety in Nigeria Customs over the planned screening of entry certificates of its personnel in the Assistant Comptroller and Deputy Comptroller cadres. A circular sighted by Vanguard directed those in the affected ranks to route their correspondence through their respective area commanders.

The circular was signed by Deputy Comptroller General Austine Warikoru, ACG Human Resources Development on behalf of the CGC. The directive has torn the affected officers along two divides. While some officers who spoke with Vanguard explained that the purported screening exercise is in bad faith, designed to achieve political end, others are of the opinion that it is an action in the right direction.

De-ranking policy

Some of those who spoke to our reporter off-record fear that the exercise may be an extension of the de-ranking policy, which allegedly came to the fore after controversial promotions in Customs in 2004. While others said it is an exercise aimed at de-ranking those who elected to upgrade themselves educationally in order to broaden their skills to be able to serve their fatherland in a more proficient manner.

The grieving officers have appealed to the new Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Retd.), not to accede to recommendation to punish officers who elected to upgrade themselves.

This is even as others urge the CGC to remain apolitical and be very circumspective in the current matter. They argue that officers who got approvals to embark on further study should not be part of a controversial sweeping process that pegs career progression to specified levels beyond which officers cannot aspire or attain, on the ground of an obnoxious policy.

Those criticising the directive and previous implementation of the de-ranking measure say it is administratively and legally unacceptable. They blame the emergence of politically exposed and ambitious officers who schemed their way into the service leadership in the wake of the controversial 2004 Customs promotions, as those who were promoted during the ongoing policy thrust.

Many described the move as unfair, backward and a major disservice to nation building. Officers in the affected cadres vow to use every legal means at their disposal to resist the continuation of waht they call witch hunt from a clique of management staff that were part and parcel of the last “repressive and oppressive” regime, all in a bid to cling to power.

“We have reasons to believe that this thing (entry qualification screening) is an agenda aimed to de-rank officers. This move is going to destroy the entire system and image of the service as booth of cheap political experiment. Let me tell you, when this thing sparks negative reaction and officers’ revolt, our image as a country will be at stake” he said, adding:

“For me, management should present an option where those who went for further studies based on approval are allowed to clear themselves. I know that what is happening in the customs service will not happen in NNPC, NPA, CBN, and in the civil service of which customs is a part. Unfortunately, the customs service is always a subject of wicked experiment. Will government try what it is doing in customs service in the public service?” he asked.

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