Barley 48 hours after the voluntary retirement of former Comptroller-General, CG, of Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, Mr. John Atte, the Deputy Comptroller-General, has taken over in acting capacity.
But feelers from Aso Rock Villa indicate that top officials of the Service have started lobbying President Muhammadu Buhari for the plum job.
Dikko, in line with tradition in the public service, handed over to the most senior officer, Atte who is to act as the Comptroller-General until a substantive CG is appointed by the President.
A source at the Customs who disclosed this to Nigerian Pilot, said the handing over to Atte, who is DCG Finance, Administration &Technical Service, was under closed-doors without the media in attendance.
According to sources, journalists who had turned up to cover the handover ceremony on Tuesday were told the event was low-key, which did not require media coverage.
He said, “At about 12noon, newsmen who showed up were informed to leave because the event was not meant for coverage.”
But soon after this, it was gathered that the handing over took place without media coverage of the event.
The Customs Deputy Public Relations Officer, Assistant Comptroller Joseph Attah, confirmed that Atte had taken over as the Acting CG.
Abdullahi resigned as Customs Comptroller-General via a letter dated August 3 to President Muhammadu Buhari in which he notified Buhari of his desire to proceed on voluntary retirement from August 18.
The president approves and personally signed the request dated 14th August.
He thanked the NCS boss for his services to the county in the last six years.
However, a source told our reporter that except the presidency direct otherwise, Tahir Musa, the Deputy Comptroller-General, Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection may replace Abdulahi Dikko Inde as the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service.
The former CG was believed to be more comfortable with Tahir who had most of the time acted as the acting CG in the absence of Dikko, though the DCG Finance, Administration &Technical Service, John Atte is the most senior DCG.
Also, since President Muhammadu Buhari did not ask the CG to handover to the most senior officer in the service, the position of CG is still vacant until the President makes a pronouncement on it.
Meanwhile, Dikko, who left his post Tuesday said he was leaving behind a transparent system and that he has nothing to fear, stressing that he was voluntarily leaving office to allow the younger generation takes over.
The former CGS drew the curtain on a 27-year career with the commissioning Tuesday of an ultra-modern hospital built to provide basic and comprehensive medical care for men and officials of Customs and their family. It is located at Karu, near Abuja.
Abdullahi, who enlisted in 1988 as a superintendent, rose rapidly through the ranks, becoming an assistant comptroller-general within a few years and the Comptroller-General on August 9, 2009.
His disengagement draws the curtain on an exciting career which saw him serving at Tin Can Island Port, Apapa, Imo Command, Kaduna Command, Investigation and Inspection, Headquarters, Abuja, Badagry Area Command and Seme Border.
He distinguished himself as the ACG, headquarters, a feat which earned him the top position ahead of his peers.
Feelers from Aso Villa last night indicated that President Buhari, who personally signed Abdullahi’s letter of retirement, may re-assign him in consideration of his sterling performance as Custom’s boss in the last six years.
“Despite the high-wire politics surrounding that seat, his record of performance, especially on revenue generation, has endeared the man to the President,” a source in government circle said last night.
Besides taking the revenue of Customs from a monthly average of N30 billion to about N100 billion, Abdullahi is also credited for modernising the Customs service through far-reaching reforms he introduced in his six-point agenda upon assumption of office.
At the Abuja headquarters of the Customs, officers were seen yesterday discussing his departure in hushed tones even as some agreed that their boss is leaving with an impeccable record.
“I think the man has decided to bow out when the ovation is still very loud,” a lady assistant comptroller-general was overheard discussing with two other officers.
“He certainly made a success of his mandate, especially in improving staff welfare and giving the service some clout on the international scale,” another officer quipped.

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