Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Abdullahi Inde Dikko, yesterday resigned from office amidst controversies as to the circumstances of his action.
His resignation, which came ahead of the supposed expiration of his tenure, was said to have followed pressure from the Presidency for him to do so even as President Muhammadu Buhari who promptly accepted his resignation was yet to name any successor at press time last night.
According to Presidency sources, the erstwhile Customs’ boss, whose tenure had been dogged by controversies, had in a letter dated August 3 to the President stated his desire to quit the service of the NCS. The approval of Dikko’s request by the President was conveyed to him via a letter dated August 14 and personally signed by Buhari.
In the letter titled: “Voluntary Retirement from the Nigeria Customs Service,” Buhari thanked the Customs boss for the services he rendered the county in the past six years.
The President stated: “Dear, Alhaji D.I. Abdullahi. I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter Ref. No. NCS/ADM/HQ/P. 35802 of 3rd August, 2015 conveying your decision to voluntarily retire from the Nigeria Customs Service with effect from Tuesday, 18th August, 2015.
“I note with appreciation your services to this nation, especially as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service in the last six (6) years. Accordingly, I hereby approve your voluntary retirement from the Nigeria Customs Service with effect from 18th August, 2015.
“I wish you the very best in your future endeavours.”
In his earlier letter to the President, Dikko said his decision to embark on voluntary resignation was borne out of the need to allow young Nigerians to take over and continue his legacy.
“While thanking Your Excellency and indeed Nigerians for the opportunity to serve and contribute my quota to the development of our fatherland, I wish to seek approval of Your Excellency to be allowed to retire voluntarily on 18th August, 2015.
“This decision is taken with a view to allowing young bloods to take over the mantle of leadership of the Service in order to sustain and improve on my legacy,” he said.
The Customs boss who thanked Buhari for the confidence and trust reposed on him since he (President) was inaugurated on May 29 noted that by August 18, he would be six years in office as the Comptroller-General of the NCS.
He told the President that on assumption of office, he articulated six-point agenda which he vigorously pursued, even as he said the agenda had positively impacted on the efficiency and performance of officers of the service.
He noted that his agenda had drastically changed the negative perception of the service.
Abdullahi listed the six-point agenda to include capacity building, introduction of e-Customs, enhancing productivity through improved welfare package, moral rebirth for discipline and integrity in service, collaboration and partnering with stakeholders and international organisations, as well as fostering understanding of the Service in the eye of the general public using an intensified and a well-coordinated public relations platform.
The Customs CG said under his watch, the revenue collection into various coffers of government increased drastically.
He said the Service’s average monthly collection in 2009 when he took over was about N29billion, adding that the average monthly collection is currently between N90billion and N100billion.
Addressing State House Correspondents after meeting with the President at the State House, Dikko said the President told him to always make himself available anytime the country needs him for any form of counsel.
According to him, the only way the Customs can move forward is by sacrifice, to give chance to others so that they can continue with the legacy that had been put in place.
Fielding questions on the ongoing probe of his tenure, he said: “We have nothing to fear. The time I’m leaving is the time I feel those young ones that have developed the software can come up and manage the software. So that is basically the reason and I’m sending out this signal to all those who have stayed put.
“Don’t stay until you they ask you to go. When you feel you have done so much and you believe in the system you have built, then why do you stay? Why don’t be an umpire?
“Leave by the side and watch and give advice. The President has told me at any given time I feel giving advice as a revenue officer that I should not hesitate. So, which means I’m still around.”
Earlier yesterday, Nigerian Pilot learnt that Dikko had addressed officers of the Service, telling them his time was up and needed to quit. Though he neither named his successor nor any of the officers he had recommended to the President for consideration as his successor, the exiting Customs boss was philosophical in telling them that should the Presidency not announce his successor by this morning, the next most senior officer should act as the Service’s head.
According to relevant law, the Comptroller-General of Customs is responsible for the overall management and direction of the Service. He is equally the accounting officer of the Service and the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Customs Service Board, which is chaired by the Minister of Finance.
By virtue of delegated authority, the Comptroller-General is authorised to issue guidelines and prescribe internal instructions to Customs personnel in accordance with government’s rules and regulations as they affect the statutory functions of the Customs Service.
In the discharge of his duties, the Comptroller-General is assisted by six Deputy Comptrollers-General each heading a department. Together, they form the Service’s Management team that is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Nigeria Customs Service:
At press time last night, the following were the top officers from among whom a successor could emerge: John Atte, who is the current Deputy Comptroller-General, DCG in charge of Finance, Administration and Technical Services, FATS , Adewuyi A. Akinade, DCG Tariff and Trade, A. C. Nwosu, DCG Strategic Research and Policy and Musa Tahir, DCG Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection. Others include: Ibrahim Mera, the DCG Human Resource Development and G. T. Aliu DCG Excise, FTZ and Industrial Incentives.
However, observers posited last night that in picking Dikko’s successor, the President is not restricted to members of the management team. He may have to look for a suitable officer from the rank of Assistant Comptroller-General in line with his intentions and the demands of the country’s Constitution for balancing in teams of geopolitical representation among other consideration.
“If the President picks an ACG to succeed Dikko, it would mean that most of the current DCGs would have to be retired,” said a Presidency source late last night.
Born on May 11, 1960, Dikko who is from Katsina State like Buhari, became Comptroller-General of Customs on August 17, 2009.
He was reported to have shunned Buhari ahead of the 2015 election, when his support was sought and therefore his effort to now align with him (Buhari), after the March victory for the All Progressives Congress, APC.
It was also gathered that ever since President Buhari came into power, Dikko has made spirited efforts to be in his good books to no avail, including sealing the warehouse of a rice-importing company over backlog of default in clearing import duty.