By Godwin Oritse
A peep into the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Headquarters in Abuja has revealed a new leadership style.
It is more significant when viewed against the backdrop that the leadership in question resides in a non-career officer, who arrived prepared to learn and committed to running a complex agency with a new vigour, new vision and determination to align the service with national growth.
Barely two years in the saddle, it needs telling how the Customs new sheriff, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), has shaken off the lethargy that appeared to have bugged the organization for years. Recall that given his military background, his appointment was received with mixed feelings by stakeholders in the maritime industry.
While some saw him as too old for the job, others saw him as a non-career officer who would not add value to the service. Two years down the line, however, to the amazement of many, Customs officers inclusive, Ali has not only shamed those who thought the NCS will amount to nothing under his watch, he has added more value than a career officer probably would have done.
Ali has recorded so many firsts as head of the agency, so much so that the morale of officers could not have been better boosted. For the first time in its history, Customs boasts of a leader who is gender friendly, with six women in the management team boasts of representing 30 percent of the 20-member management team.
For the first time too, promotions, deployments and appointments in the service are based on seniority, qualifications and hard-work and not on favouritism.
There is no gainsaying that this present leadership attitude has greatly restored and enhanced efficiency, discipline and productivity, inclusive of improved overall workforce.
Evidence shows that on the issue of discipline and sanction, no head of Customs has been as fair and firm like Ali. When it comes to wielding the big stick on erring officers, he does not consider tribe, religion or rank. For the first in the history of the NCS, 36 officers were reportedly dismissed for various offenses while another 17 were axed for drug related offenses. The CGC’s stance on indiscipline has made officers to sit up.
The fear of Ali has become the beginning of wisdom for indolent and corrupt officers. The level of discipline under the Ali administration is also believed to have trickled down the system with improved work culture that proudly promotes orderliness, discipline, efficiency and productivity.
To say the least, Ali has created a new work culture and, all things being equal, stands to support aggressive revenue generation spirit, accountability, growth and genuine service to fatherland.
Incorruptible as diamond, Ali stands tall in the history of nation-building from whom younger generation of Nigerians must learn from. Contrary to the belief in some quarters that Ali is disrespectful, those close to him say he is the most establishment-friendly person, who believes in doing what is right.