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The Era of Nigeria Customs Service under Alhaji Inde Dikko byInternational Customs Organizations

By Carroll Nottage
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The Nigeria Customs Service is now an avalanche in international facet. The reckoning of countries prying to know how the body successfully carried out its modernization drive under the Six Point agenda of Mr Abdullahi Inde Dikko is overwhelming and of today the talk of meetings in World Customs Organization member countries.

The modernization drive so far which has seen the introduction of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, Nigeria Trade Hub and the ongoing capacity building of its staff has earned it so much respect from global customs Organizations. That is why we are certain that Customs has set a standard for other countries willing to develop rapidly to follow.

My visit to the Headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service and interaction with some customs officers made me proud of how the service has achieved a little after the CGC took over the functions of setting the organization to what it is till date.

We will be privileged to see the CGC in Singapore for the Customs meetings, by Monday, 3rd of August, 2015. We remember meeting with the team at the Financial Times/Nigeria Customs Service event sometime in May/June 2014.

“The launch of PAAR has helped to build stronger relationship with the business sector. By its configuration, importers and operators who have demonstrated high level of integrity in their declarations are flagged.

“To encourage them, 175 of them have been admitted into a new Fast Track system. These companies now enjoy special concessions like blue lane selection, inspection at owners premises and exclusive membership of the Customs Compliance Ambassadors Group.”

During the event He mentioned how the Nigeria Customs Service has attained a high level of modernization enough to “assure existing and potential investors in Nigeria, that we are indeed ready for business.”

He also said that the Nigeria Customs Service has successfully implemented a critical reform programme and repositioned itself for trade facilitation.

Just when the odds were looking as not possible, Nigeria Customs Service successfully took over the operations of the destination inspection saving the country billions of dollars in a space of two years, the arrival of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) has indeed created a niche for the service. The destination era which was been operated by various destination inspection companies was absolutely shrouded with fraud and the stress of getting your Risk Assessment Report was also very tasking has it takes up to a month to get.

The modernization drive has indeed been a very great experience so far for the Customs team, during the era of destination inspection, there were no recognitions of any sought, neither was Nigeria Customs Service rank in the ease of doing becoming easy, it grew more difficult and hard day by day.

So far the ease of doing business in Nigeria is now ranked as very easy and the service can now boast of its numerous recognitions both national and international in a space of two years, just after the introduction of Nigeria Trade Hub and the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report.

While speaking with the management they unanimously made reference to the IT partner that was been engaged (West Blue Consulting) to see the trade facilitation and modernization drive of the Comptroller General become a reality.

Asked why West Blue Consulting had to be brought in when there was an existing IT firm in place, they made us realize that in just two years what West Blue Consulting has offered alone has given the Nigeria Customs Service a befitting face in the international sphere.

We do know that the capacity building of its officers has also made the officers become so proud and efficient in delivery of their jobs, these young men and women of the service are all grateful to the administration drive in seeing that a trusted IT partner has since been working assiduously to train them on the job and off the job. This aspirations set in place will make the development programme of the country very useful as skilled personnels are now manning its own operations.

Also, the relations between officers and other stakeholders was also not left out, as a research carried out showed that the service interacts using all mediums available such as , , and . The use of social media is a great step now wonder the Nigeria Trade Hub won the best rated platform under the sterling bank social media awards.

The country has indeed saved a lot as a visit to the Ministry of Finance acknowledged that the country has been saved of over 20 billion dollars compared to the era of destination inspection.

We are glad the Ghana government is also set to key into the trade facilitation scheme which brings about about rapid development to its threshold, we recommend the scheme to other countries to adapt.

Just with the successes recorded so far, Namibia has also just launched its trade information portal, similar to Nigeria Trade Hub, this indeed will make Africa a great continent.

The just concluded training that was done by World Customs Organization in Ghana really showed that all is set for the Ghana Customs to take the giant role of taking over its destination inspection activities using IT to simplify the process.

We are glad to know that Nigeria Customs Service and the World Customs Organization is ready to assist Ghana Customs take over its operations.

We say yes to continuous modernization and we are confident that the administration of Alhaji Inde Dikko will keep the flag flying.

Caroline Nottage.
Freelance writer for World Customs Organization.