Hameed Ali should wear this uniform and let us hear word
Hameed Ali should wear the Customs uniform or tender his resignation. It's actually that simple.
We should be talking about the silver linings in our faltering economy on a warm March afternoon:
How inflation has dropped by infinitesimal percentages, how foreign reserves have risen, how President Buhari returned to his work desk and completed a whole work day without incident and how Arsenal continues to be the butt of jokes in world football.
Or how Tokunbo cars have gone beyond the reach of you and I.
Everything else but a uniform.
But here we are, splitting hairs and haggling over whether Customs Comptroller General, Hameed Ali, should wear the uniform of an agency he leads or not.
At the time of writing, Ali has been sent out of the Senate chamber to reappear some day in the future with his uniform.
No, we are not talking about a five-year-old school pupil here or an errant school kid from Warri.
We are having this uniform debate over a 62-year-old retired army colonel.
Let that sink in.
Yes, all white goatee of him. All unsmiling facade of him.
Ali should be ashamed of himself, really.
Why? Because he's caused so much global warming already over a uniform.
Like my good friend Abdul Mahmud Esq loves to point out, the 2nd schedule in Section 38, Regulation 13 of the Customs and Excise Service Regulations (1963) says the boss of Customs, like every other officer in the agency, should don the uniform.
According to Mahmud: "Regulation 31 reads: 'Clothing and equipment shall be of such pattern and worn in such manner as the Board shall determine'. Ali is a law breaker".
He says he didn't emerge from within the ranks of Customs and because he's a former army officer, he shouldn't wear the uniform of another agency.
Which begs the question: why take the job if you consider yourself too big to wear the uniform of an agency whose personnel are identified by the distinct colour of the uniform they wear?
Ali says no law compels him to wear the uniform. He reminds us, as though we didn't already know, that uniforms don't get the job done--only people do.
Let's cut to the chase. It's commonsense to wear the uniform of an agency like Customs. And if you are boss, commonsense says you should lead by example. It doesn't have to be legal or spelt out in some statute books. Just use your head and do the right thing.
Imagine if all Customs officers followed Ali's example and turn up at border towns without uniforms? How would we tell the robbers from Customs?
A uniform is what it is--it makes officers of law enforcement agencies appear like a team. It brings orderliness to the place. It confers authority on the wearer.
A uniform is more than a piece of clothing; it's a symbol and totem of authority.
If your bill is being footed by taxpayers and taxpayers say you should wear a uniform, you had better be wearing that uniform or return to your house where you can dress in rags for all we care.
The Nigerian Senate may not be anyone's idea of a citadel of orderliness and law, but they have my support for insisting that Ali must wear the uniform of an agency he leads.
For all their flaws, the lawmakers are the representatives of tax paying Nigerians.
This writer has sampled the opinions of a few Customs officers who answer to Ali. They are just as aghast as the rest of the country that their boss won't wear the uniform the rest of them wear with plenty of pride and nationalistic fervor.
If he can't bring himself to wear the uniform of Customs, he should hand his resignation letter over because that tells us that he doesn't share the ethos and values of the organisation he presides over.
Ali is being unnecessarily stubborn and that's a darn, crying shame.