Like the experience of most people, it is very unlikely to forget the year 2020 and its concomitant challenges and upheavals in the country and globally in a hurry. I had never imagined that anything could negatively impact our world as the Coronavirus pandemic has done. It is for this reason that I have continued to ponder on the theme of 2020 International Customs Day (ICD) celebration, “Customs Fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”, which is aimed at highlighting the actions that Customs Service all over the world is taking towards ensuring a sustainable future that caters to the social, economic, health and environmental needs of the people.
So IWA decided to take on some Customs Area Controllers in Nigeria on the theme. Their responses are as instructive as they are insightful. Comptroller Olugboyega Peters, the Customs Area Controller, Western Marine Area Command, Lagos, speaks on the efforts and activities of the Command in this challenging period:
Among so many other responsibilities and functions that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) carry out, we are the leading agency that collects the highest revenue for the Federal government of Nigeria, we lead the drive on the suppression of smuggling in Nigeria, and we also collect trade statistical data on behalf of the federal government for economic planning purposes. Without sounding immodest, you will agree with me that all these responsibilities and functions play a pivotal role in fostering socio-economic wellbeing and sustainability of Nigeria and Nigerians and also enhance their economic prosperity and the world at large.
The Nigeria Customs Service as a responsible member of the global Customs community has over the years, as spelt out by the World Customs Organization (WCO), continued to do everything it can to ensure a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs of Nigerians are well catered for at all times.
Although in this area command, we operate mainly on water, as it is obtainable in other area commands in Nigeria we also work closely with other government agencies such as the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), etc. to ensure a sustainable future that caters to the social, economic, health and environmental needs of Nigerians.
Therefore, it is easy for us, for instance, to seamlessly refer cases of illegal importation of arms and ammunitions to the Nigeria Police Force for further investigation. In the same manner, we regularly refer cases of substandard goods to Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and refer the ones bordering on foods and drugs to NAFDAC.
The Customs job is very dynamic in nature thus as the Area Controller, I ensure that all officers and men of this area command are constantly on the same page and whatsoever is done at the management level cascades down to everyone in the command no matter how low in rank the person may be. During our parades we pass information to everyone and very seriously too. I consider it expident to also state the fact that in-house seminars and trainings have become a tradition in the Nigeria Customs Service and this is to ensure that all officers and men of the service are frequently kept abreast of the ‘goings-on’ in the global Customs community.
We have a robust strategy in place for the safety of all the officers and men serving in this command; one of which is that my officers and men know and would not go on patrol unless they are fully kitted in COVID-19 protective gears and life jackets. The cleanliness of the surroundings of the area command is also a top priority because we are fully aware that our wellbeing is directly connected to a clean environment.