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Appraising Nigeria Customs Service’s one year of trade facilitation

Challenging periods force new thinking and facilitate new ideas. Significantly, these periods also throw up the men to drive the needful innovations and give life…

Challenging periods force new thinking and facilitate new ideas. Significantly, these periods also throw up the men to drive the needful innovations and give life to a new, imperative order. While the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is an underutilised transformative platform curiously hobbling the free flight of Africa’s socio-industrial behemoth, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, the Service’s comptroller- general, has demonstrably emerged the driver with the magic wand of change.

This would explain why critical maritime industry stakeholders quickly lauded his appointment as acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in June 2023. The reason for the excitement was then not immediately apparent. But they clearly had good reason as this has now been considerably unfolded to the full glare of the wider Nigerian and international observers.

In a conservative milieu where new thinking could actually be a risky enterprise, resolute, focused, daring and competent folks are indispensable. This has been demonstrated time and again in human history. Cut to the bone, this is what CG Adeniyi is doing at the NCS.

With a specific vision of transforming the economy, delivering inclusive growth and impacting lives, Adeniyi’s mission is to forge partnerships and incept innovations that would transform the national economy through maximising the potential of the NCS for economic growth and simultaneously humanising the Service.

Perhaps, this is not surprising, given the fact that Adeniyi is a thoroughbred professional in customs administration and human relations. He also possesses a deep understanding of the complex and constantly evolving international trade landscape.

Versed in customs regulations, laws and procedures, he possesses the ability to navigate and adapt to changing policies and regulations. He has demonstrated excellent communication and leadership skills responsible for leading teams of customs officials, working closely with stakeholders across a variety of industries.

Under the leadership of Adeniyi, the Nigeria Customs Service has registered several governance positives despite the challenging period. It could be recalled that Adeniyi assumed office when Nigeria, Africa and the world are standing on the brink of substantial disruptions – and of considerable opportunity – as new business and political models challenge traditional playbooks.

On assuming office, Adeniyi committed to turning around the fortunes of the Service and continuously improving his knowledge and skills to stay ahead of the ever-changing customs landscape. He also promised to collaborate with stakeholders in an attempt to find lasting solutions to resolve the festering challenges in cargo clearance procedures.

He has shown dedication to promoting trade and economic growth, while ensuring compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. Adeniyi is known to maintain the highest standard of integrity and professionalism.

A year after, it is crystal clear, even to doubting Thomases, that he has fundamentally transformed the Nigeria Customs Service.

He has improved revenue collection through various measures, including optimising revenue collection, plugging revenue leakages and addressing gaps in the customs clearance process. Significantly, last year, the NCS generated a record N3.2 trillion revenue, representing a 21.4 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

A sectoral analysis of his impactful leadership of the NCS will show what difference hard-work, discipline and focus can make to an organisation.

It is strikingly noteworthy that within the first three months as the substantive CGC, Adeniyi prioritised efforts in blocking glaring revenue leakages, particularly in the context of the Nigeria Customs Service. This move essentially targeted improvement of revenue generation and maximisation of the remittance of accrued revenue.

His role in minimising revenue leakage is seen as a collective responsibility, and there is recognition of the impact of such efforts on progress and revenue generation. Here, the collaboration between the NCS and the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is part of the initiative to curb revenue leakages and boost federal income.

Setting an unprecedented target of generating N6 trillion revenue in 2024, Adeniyi also stated that the NCS would drive more efficient, transparent and revenue-optimised operations in the current year. He expressed his commitment to revenue generation while also outlining innovative strategies to achieve the Service’s revenue targets.

A space of this nature will not permit for publication of full details of Adeniyi’s unprecedented achievements as NCS boss. It is a new era being widely celebrated by stakeholders, as well as members of staff who have continued to benefit from endless programmes covering capacity building and enhanced welfare.

This is one appointment President Tinubu has got right. We congratulate the president for appointing Adeniyi, and Nigerians for the huge benefits the country is deriving from an astute and credible leadership.

In the next few years of Adeniyi’s leadership of the NCS, Nigerians should expect more excellent service delivery and huge benefit in the socio-economic revival we will reap.

Gaya is the chief executive officer, Skylimit Media Group and a former deputy president, Nigerian Guild of Editors.

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