For Abdullahi Dikko Inde, an honour most-deserved
By Uche Ezechukwu
The recent re-election of the Comptroller-General of Nigeria’s Customs as the vice chairman of the Central and West African Region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) is not only an honour duly deserved, but also a great and smart strategic step by the organisation to achieve hitherto unattained heights. Seeing that Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde is an achiever of superlative dimensions, his colleagues did not waste the opportunity to tap deep into his potential, by re-electing as the vice chairman of this global body at their convention in Cotonou, last week. The Central and West African Region is one of the partitions through which the 177nations member body carries out its functions which are getting more demanding by the day.
Established on January 26th, 1953, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium and, with its global membership, is recognized as the voice of the global Customs community. The work and functions of the WCO has been manifested in the wide and expansive areas covering the development of international conventions, instruments and tools on commodity classification, valuation, rules of origin and other associated issues that are related to the implementation of all the areas of international commerce and movement of goods which are assuming a more global synergy with every passing year.
The responsibilities of the Customs services of the central and West African states come into huge focus when the growing challenges facing the region are placed in perspective. Today, the waterways, coasts and land borders of the region are increasingly becoming avenues for smuggling and other nefarious activities. As if the challenge of smuggling is not tormenting enough, the region has inherited even greater causes for worry. The scourge of terrorism and piracy sweeping through the porous region has continued to create greater problems for the leadership and members of the Customs community in our region. The predicament of the Customs has become even more complicated with the paucity of available resources which can hardly cater for the cost of required personnel and equipment.
The solution to the many practical challenges facing the Customs services of our region demands for people with exceptional skills, resourcefulness and greater foresight. That is where the re-election of Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde as the vice president of the Central and West African region of the WCO becomes significant. Those conversant with how well the boss of Nigeria’s Customs Service has impacted on the Customs even at its global level are pointing out that the current recognition is not due to Nigeria as a country, but more to the man, himself, for his personal dynamism and application.
This fact was significantly driven home on December 8th, last year, when before President Goodluck Jonathan and the crème de la crème of the society, assembled to witness the commissioning of the Nigeria Customs Staff College, Gwagwalada, which was built and equipped by the Inde administration at the Nigeria Customs. On that day, the WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya was short of words as he reeled out words of appreciation for the towering credentials of Nigeria’s Customs boss. Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde had handed out a shining surprise to the world Customs body at the end of its three-day 66th Policy Commission meeting hosted by Nigeria.
The unveiling and commissioning of the ultra-modern and world class staff college, built, equipped and commissioned to cater for the training of officers and men of the Customs of the African member states was breath-taking and a moment of pride both to Nigerians and the world Customs community. The growing accolades which Alhaji Dikko Inde has continued to receive from within and without Nigeria have continued to say a lot about this self-effacing man who never advertises his achievements.
No matter how much the Nigeria’s Customs boss has tried to remain reticent about his achievements, they have become like lighted candles which cannot be hidden away under the bushel. Even people who have had nothing to do directly with the organisation cannot but now feel the impact of this hitherto maligned agency, because with Alhaji Inde’s coming, the Customs has become like a magnificent house on the hill. Before now, the Customs had been regarded as a sick child of the nation, but it has now become the national sustainer since the Inde inception. Nigerians were moved to tears, when at the recent fuel subsidy inquest at the National Assembly, the Customs shone patriotically as its officers gave the testimony of the long battles they have been waging to ensure that petroleum exports and imports were accounted for through proper documentation.
Again, the Dikko Inde administration has broken every available record in revenue collection because the leadership has been able to motivate his staff effectively while blocking all the loopholes which had made the revenue collection system a real leaky basket. Last year, the Customs overshot the target by over N200 billion and is ‘threatening’ to collect more than one trillion naira this year.
The massive physical development of barracks and other administrative edifices which Abdullahi Dikko Inde has embarked upon with fury has become an astounding aspect of the physical, attitudinal and institutional transformations which the current administration is undertaking at the organisation. In fact, so phenomenal has his efforts at physical development, modernisation and expansion of facilities for the Customs been that Alhaji Inde is being currently referred to as the “Construction Minister” in federal government circles. He is equally embarked on the building of the capacity and welfare of his officers and men, suck that morale has continued to soar.
It is in these and other aspects of his dynamism that have been allowed to play out in the international and regional affairs that have fired his impressed colleagues return him to the coveted seat which will increasingly come with greater challenges. But then, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde is not new to challenges. What he has done and doing for the Nigeria’s Customs Service, he will do for the Customs at the regional and worldwide stage, no doubt.
The re-election is an honour amply deserved.
(Uche Ezechukwu, writer and media executive, lives in Abuja)