|Saturday, May 25, 2013|
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NIGERIAN CUSTOMSThey came, they saw, they were impressed
03/21/12, Biodun Omojola
Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Dikko Inde Abdullahi, spoke to Africa Today's Ego Coast-Ufili on the successful conclusion of the Policy Commission meeting in Abuja and the official launching of the Customs Command College. Excerpts
Africa Today: The World Customs Organisation Policy Commission was successfully hosted by you in Abuja. How does it feel hosting the cream of the world customs successfully?
Abdullahi: It has been great. The entire members of the global custom committee policy commission have come and gone and they have a good story to tell about Nigeria. You can see from the time they stayed with us they confirmed that all the things they hear and say about Nigeria are not true. They moved freely, they interacted with Nigerians, they ate our food and we had a night together outside. These people were relaxed. I believe the results of their stay will start coming out when they get back to their own countries. They will tell of Nigerian hospitality and generosity and how friendly Nigerians are.
Africa Today: What were the conclusions of the conference and how will they affect Nigeria?
Abdullahi: The conclusion is that a lot of suggestions and ideas were exchanged all to be ratified by June 2012 in Brussels. Whatever is there now is like recommendations and it will come up for ratification in June 2012. But I want to assure you that whatever has been said, whatever decisions have been taken, Nigeria is going to benefit because for one thing, the meeting was held in Nigeria. They took cognizance of the Nigerian economy, Nigerian people and generally the African people. For that singular act, I believe that, really, we are going to be favoured.
Africa Today: In your opening speech you hinted that Nigeria is soon to be one of the top 20 economies by 2020. How right on track is the country to be among the top 20 by 2020?
Abdullahi: You can see from the project that Nigeria has diversified. We now know that we have to face the realities of time. Agriculture is one of the back-bones of any economy and we are holding strong to it. The president has removed import duties on all agric equipment and we try to patronise goods that are being manufactured in Nigeria so that we can boost our own production, generate employment so we can move forward politically and economically.
Africa Today: The Customs Command College has been commissioned. It will also serve as a regional training centre for west and central Africa. When do we expect the first batch of intakes?
Abdullahi: Very soon. I want to assure you that if not for the Christmas and New Year holidays we would have been on ground. If not for the holidays I will be the first one to pick up a chalk at the college. But I can assure you immediately after the holidays we are going to be there on ground.
Africa Today: What made you fast-track the development of the Command College?
Abdullahi: I am an accountant and I know how much is spent on foreign and local training. So I believe if I can provide that money and actually develop that school before the end of the year so that I will start afresh in January 2012, then I will compare what I spent in 2011 and 2012. I believe Nigeria will appreciate why we moved fast to build and commission the college.
Africa Today: Aside the Command College what other plans have the Nigeria Custom Service to boost itself in the international community?
Abdullahi: If you remember sometime in 2010 I was going round the world first of all to understand our friends and present ourselves and make sure we exchange ideas. But some people back home believed the trips were not important but the importance has come to show now. We hosted the policy commission meeting. Virtually everybody was in attendance. We have a staff college and regional training centre. Some would come and deliver lectures at the college others will bring training materials.
Africa Today: What message do you have for the international community regarding investing in Nigeria?
Abdullahi: I believe the message is right there. The customs administrators that came here have a story to tell. Some even stayed back after the conference and added some days. They have gone back; they call us and email us telling us that Nigeria is a great country. I have started to see the signs. So the feedback is encouraging.
Africa Today: I must congratulate you for successfully bringing the world together. It is not an easy task.
Abdullahi: Thank you
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