|Thursday, June 20, 2013|
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NIGERIAN CUSTOMSAbdullahi's homerun for NCS
03/21/12, Biodun Omojola
The idea of establishing a staff college for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to prepare the service for the challenges of the new century had been at the conceptual stage for over a decade. Not until 2005 did actual construction begin but this was later abandoned due to funding constraints. However, on assumption of office in August 2009 as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Dikko Inde Abdullahi presented a six-point agenda of transforming and reforming the NCS into a modern, efficient and professionally run organisation. Top of the agenda was enhanced and up-to-date capacity building for officers and men of the service.
In line with the new thinking of the World Custom Organisation (WCO) which identified capacity building as a strong pillar for modernisation and Abdullahi's personal conviction for capacity building, the Comptroller-General made a strong representation to government for the funding of the staff college project. Though a funding system (cost of collection), which allows the NCS to withhold approved percentage of revenue collected, was in place, it was barely adequate to meet the requirements of building a world class command and staff college for the NCS. To solve this funding constraint, a special intervention fund was approved by President Goodluck Jonathan. With the special intervention fund, the project came under a new impetus.
The NCS management board, led by Abdullahi, soon constituted itself into a special monitoring team. Its job was to closely supervise the progress and quality of work done on the project. Part of the special monitoring duties includes a weekly inspection visit to the project site to monitor progress of work done. In February 2011, during his first working visit to Nigeria, WCO secretary-general, Kunio Mikuriya, commended the NCS management for the staff college initiative and discussed the possibility of designating the college as a regional training centre for west and central Africa. Four months later, in June, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between both organisations designating the college a regional training centre for west and central African region at conclusion of a policy commission meeting.
The college will be used as a training school for the 24 member states in the region. It would also be used for technical assistance meetings and for other customs related events. In addition, it would serve as a centre to run national and international training programmes aimed at meeting Nigeria's middle-cadre management development for the NCS. Other security agents, importers, customs agents and stakeholders will benefit from training programmes organised by the college. The facility include a main auditorium, four lecture theatres and 16 class rooms, all equipped with digital audio-visual system. This is in addition to administrative blocks, an ultra-modern e-library, living quarters for the college principal officers, shopping complex, medical facility, sports complex and officers' mess.
The college is trying to imbibe the global trend of going green. It has a green environment with trees and excellent landscaping. Among those who have planted trees at the college are President Goodluck Jonathan and Secretary-General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya. The NCS's command and staff college was inaugurated December 10, by President Jonathan, assisted by Kunio Mikuriya, Dikko Inde Abdullahi, and other top government functionaries.
Abdullahi told Africa Today that he knows training costs locally and internationally are expensive. But with the establishment of the staff college, a lot of money will not only be saved but the centre would be a revenue earner for the country as Nigeria will now be seen as an international training destination. Already the college's first batch of senior officers for training was admitted by the college early this year. Abdullahi told Africa Today that activities at the college will take-off immediately adding that "I will be the first one to pick up a chalk at the college."
Part of the positive fallout of establishing the college is that leading international experts would come and deliver lectures thus confirming Nigeria's place as an international location for customs training.
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