Customs

Milestones: Reflecting on One Year of CG Adewale Adeniyi’s Leadership at Customs

Milestones: Reflecting on One Year of CG Adewale Adeniyi's Leadership at Customs

 

 

By Segun Oladipupo

Happy Diamond Age

 

The past one year has been nothing short of extraordinary for our Customs Comptroller General, Mr. Bashir Adewale Adeniyi in office. Amidst the challenges and responsibilities that come with overseeing customs operations, his unwavering dedication and exceptional leadership have shone brightly, setting a new standard for excellence in the Service.

Within one year, the Comptroller General has spearheaded various groundbreaking initiatives and navigated complex situations with remarkable skill and foresight, garnering accolades and admiration from stakeholders.

In summary, between June 19, 2023 and June 19, 2024, Nigeria Customs Service has made several significant achievements, some of which include:

Increased efficiency in revenue collection: The NCS has improved its revenue collection processes, resulting in higher revenue generation for the government.

Streamlined procedures: The service has implemented measures to simplify Customs procedures, making it easier for businesses to import and export goods.

Enhanced anti-smuggling efforts: The NCS has intensified its efforts to combat smuggling activities, leading to significant seizures of contraband goods.

Improved trade facilitation: The service has worked towards improving trade facilitation by reducing clearance times for goods at the ports.

Enhanced collaboration with other agencies: NCS under Adeniyi has strengthened its partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, leading to more effective border control measures.

These achievements demonstrate the CG’s commitment to enhancing trade facilitation, boosting revenue generation, and combating illegal activities.

Join me as we delve into a year marked by superlative achievements and transformative leadership under the guidance of our esteemed Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi.

Pronounced as the Acting CG on June 9, 2023, the Customs helmsman, equipped with the wealth of experience as the longest serving National Public Relations Officer of the Service who have worked with several CGs, he hit the ground running.

To make a remarkable difference, the Comptroller General, emerging as the boss of the revenue generating agency of government, armed himself with three policy thrusts which include;
a. Consolidation
b. Collaboration
c. Innovative solutions

Working in strict adherence to the policy templates, in his first 100 days, he made some incursions that set the platform for achievement of his objectives.

One of such perpetrations is aligning Nigeria Customs Service activities with the Policy Advisory Document of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-Led Administration.

Without wasting time, he immediately set up a Revenue Review Performance Recovery Team

Determined to facilitate trade and conforming to the World Customs Organisation’s convention, he dissolved the existing Strike Force Teams that constituted the multiple layers of enforcement into the recognised structure of Federal Operations Unit (FOU). This was done to reduce the multiple checkpoints from about 5 Units of checks at every stretch to just 2 that should comprise the either the command or the FOU.

The workaholic CG was able to achieve these and many others in less than 100 days in office.

He introduced the Advanced Ruling System which represents a notable stride in aligning NCS operations with global best practices, in line with the recommendations of the WTO TFA (World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement).

The Inauguration of a Steering Committee on the Implementation of the Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) for Compliant Traders, with a clear focus on transitioning from the existing Fastrack 2.0 to the AEO concept, formed part of his efforts to reposition the Service and engender trade facilitation .

The Interactions with the international community – WCO, JICA, Japan Customs among others on the implementation of the Customs Laboratory, adoption of geospatial, conduct of a Time Release Study (TRS), reflects his sense of knowledge import for optimum delivery of services.

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The completion of 2 Working engagements with the Customs Administration of the Republic of Benin, each paid by both administrations, to address the existing gaps that sustains the activities of smugglers and revenue leakage.

The establishment of a committee tasked with revitalizing the zonal structures of the service, granting them the authority to rejuvenate the Service.

The reconstitution of a new management team, appointed strictly based on merit, upholding the principle of equitable geopolitical representation.

The commencement of the integration process for Customs Basic and intermediary institutions into the administrative framework of the Nigeria Customs Service.

Strategic reassignment of Customs Area Controllers, also rooted in merit and in adherence to the principle of equitable geopolitical representation.

Initiation of the development of a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy for the Nigeria Customs Service, harmonized with the goal of contributing to the government’s development agenda, fostering enduring and positive relationships with communities, elevating the NCS’s reputation as a socially responsible organization, and enhancing staff engagement and productivity.

Creation of an ideas bank comprising feedback and comments gathered during the operational visits to Customs commands.

Re-invigorating the activities of the National Trade Facilitation Committee through engagements and the hosting of a retreat to chat the way forward on Trade Facilitation in Nigeria.

Finalising arrangements with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to integrate vehicular registration systems and minimise the registration of smuggled vehicles.

Holding engagements with several stakeholders including government agencies, non-governmental agencies and the private sector, to mention a few.

Prompt clearance of arrears for officers, serving as an interim measure to boost their morale, while further incentives are under consideration.

Introduction of the Work-Life Balance (WLB) initiative, aimed at enhancing officers’ well-being and welfare

Enhanced Revenue Generation – a remarkable 70.13% increase in average monthly revenue collection from NGN 202 billion to NGN 343 billion

Recorded a total of 1,763 seizures, valuing a substantial NGN 11.9 billion Naira in Duty Paid Value. Successfully intercepted various contraband items, including arms, ammunition, illicit drugs, substandard pharmaceuticals, and other prohibited goods that pose grave risks to our citizens

Desirous to place Nigeria Customs on the global map, Adeniyi looked beyond the hitherto traditional revenue generation emphasis of the Service and put in place measures to ease trade which has.led to higher revenue generation afterwards.

His priorities for year 2024 include
a. Full launch of the TRS, AEO Pilot and Advance Ruling
b. Implementation of NCS Customs Laboratory
c. Establishment of a Command and Control Center
d. Establishment of Nigeria Customs University.

Far and beyond the achievements made within his 100 days in office, CG Adeniyi took some.other quantum leaps to reposition the Service. Some of the leaps.include engagement with relevant stakeholders both within and outside the country

To feel the pulse and tap into the knowledge of port community stakeholders and operators, he revived the rested CGC Annual Conference where deliberations on issues that bother on trade facilitation, port efficiency were at the forefront.

The conference which held in December, 2023, came after 12 years since the last event was held.

Other catalogue of the CG’ achievements include the hosting of the first Reunion of Retired Customs officers

Implementation of the Lagos-Continental Declaration – an outcome of the engagement with stakeholders during the CGC’s conference.

Recording a total revenue collection of NGN 3,206,603,417,315.47, marking a noteworthy 21.4% increase from the preceding year’s total revenue of NGN 2,641,616,673,501.83. This achievement was recorded despite Witnessing an 18.62% Reduction in Transactions for 2023 Year-End

A substantial shift in NCS revenue generation, with 62.26% (NGN 2.02 trillion) collected in the latter half and 37.74% (NGN 1.21 trillion) in the initial half. This is a departure from the typical pattern, akin to the previous year’s 48.91% and 51.09% distribution.

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NCS achieved a historic Conviction of 52 offenders of Customs Laws in 2023

For 2024, NCS launched the TRS, AEO Pilot and Advance Ruling, implementation of Customs Laboratory ,.Establishment of a Command and Control Center, Establishment of Nigeria Customs University

Increase in revenue collection in the first quarter (January to March) of 2024 compared to same period of the previous year.
Recorded the highest monthly revenue collection of N 506,642,193,019.05 in March 2024.

Got presidential approval for a 90-day window to owners of uncustomed vehicles to facilitate the payment of appropriate duties on previously imported vehicles into the country. The exercise resulted in a collection of an additional revenue of N 2,350,249,319.00 for the Service.

Introduction of quarterly press briefing sessions to provide insights to stakeholders and members of the public on the activities and performance of the NCS

Supported the redistribution of palliative/food items – rice and grains to needy Nigerians.

The NCS launched an extensive Time Release Study (TRS) with significant participation high-level delegates and relevant government agencies in the international trade chain.

NCS concluded the stakeholder engagement, marking a critical step towards achieving the Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) program, set to be launched later in the year. Participants in the AEO program stand to benefit from expedited customs clearance processes, reduced inspections, priority treatment, and enhanced predictability in customs procedures, ultimately enhancing their credibility and competitiveness in the global market. 7 beneficiaries, including importers, exporters, logistics companies, customs brokers, and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) are involved in the pilot stage.

Obtained presidential approval to decongest the ports area and improve Logistics around the port in line with the Nigeria Customs Act 2023.

New terminals were dedicated to the conduct of examination and ascertaining of the status of consignments. The exercise resulted in the decongestion of 1,705 overtime containers and 981 vehicles from the ports to free up space for fresh and expedient transactions. A total of N1,508,148,897 revenue was generated from the exercise.

In line with the presidential directive to enforce the 48-Hour Clearance, NCS commenced 24 hours clearance at the port of Tincan Island in Lagos.

NCS also designated the Port of Lilypond command as the dedicated export Terminal in line with the Policy Advisory Document of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

This resulted in a significant surge in the facilitation of export goods through the ports from 317 Single Goods Declarations (SGDs) – transactions to 7,464 SGDs through the terminal absorbing 19.49% of the total 38,294 export transactions recorded in 2023. As at first quarter 2024, the Service had processed a total of 10,786 transactions with 3,162 (29.32%) of the transactions processed though the dedicated export terminal.

Under the desire of the President to Execute country-specific strategies for accessing each of the top 10 target markets, NCS signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Customs Administration in May 2024 at the margins of the Global AEO Conference to further strengthen the resolve to facilitate trade for compliant traders.

With the Support of the Federal Ministry of Finance, NCS initiated interactions with the Central Bank of Nigeria to achieve a stable exchange rate for the clearance of import goods.

Between 2020 and 2024, the NCS was evaluated under PEBEC compliance and efficiency ratings. The EO1 Efficiency scale, which assesses service delivery based on adherence to service level agreements, costs and procedures, One Government directive, and Default Approval, saw NCS score an average of 18.45% from 2020 to 2022, ranking 28th out of 37 MDAs. In the first half of 2023, NCS scored 45.92% in transparency, ranking 41st out of 53. Combining efficiency (70%) and transparency (30%) scores, NCS achieved an overall performance score of 13.78%.

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However, with the current validation, NCS has significantly improved, achieving an overall performance score of 90.4% and optimistic that the rating will rise above 95%. NCS is now ranked 6th.

Between June 2023 and May 2024, NCS intercepted a total of 2,938,390 litres of PMS from smugglers. The alarming observation in the diversion and smuggling of petroleum products and the implication on National Security led to the recent launch of Operation Whirlwind on 31st May, 2024. The operation recorded an interception of 150,950 litres of fuel Within 7 days of operation, while simultaneous interceptions of 129,185 litres of fuel were carried out by other commands and structures nationwide.

NCS also recoded a combined seizure of N 4.1 billion Naira worth of illicit drugs comprising Cannabis Indica and Codeine in Tincan Island Port Command.

Towards fostering a vibrant economy for the country, the Service in March, 2024, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Joint Tax Board at the NCS headquarters Abuja.

It aims at laying a foundation for future endeavours and integrate fiscal policies to enhance data facilitation.

For enhanced trade facilitation in the African Continent, the CG expressed readiness to partner with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.

Lamenting the low trade volume in Africa, CGC Adeniyi said the NCS fully understood the importance of balancing trade facilitation and revenue while pointing out that Africa’s share in global trade is around 3–4 percent.

He expressed concerns about how the African trade system refuses to grow beyond 14–15 percent, estimated over the last three to four years.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) to foster bilateral relationship for the enhancement of Nigeria’s economic growth.

On Wednesday, 8 May 2024, Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Adewale Adeniyi led some of his management team to Shenzhen, where he highlighted the significance of knotting bilateral affiliation with China, which, according to him, will boost the two countries’ import-export operations and favour the businesses of MSMEs in Nigeria.

Capacity building

In a related development, a training program on Trends and Digital Solutions for Customs officials and the Trade Modernization Project (TMP) team was organised by Huawei on Thursday, May 9, 2024, which focused on equipping officials with the necessary skills to navigate the digital landscape of modern trade.

As the Comptroller-General of Customs championed the laying of a foundation for Advance Ruling to enhance trade in Nigeria, he revealed that the Service has made all arrangements to conduct workshops and sensitization sessions at Customs Area Commands to ensure that all stakeholders are well-informed and prepared to utilise the new mechanism effectively.

He, however, applauded the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and other partners for their unwavering partnership and continued support of achieving a significant milestone in trade facilitation activities under the Nigeria Energy Support Programme.

“It is essential to acknowledge that initiatives like Advanced Ruling necessitate investments in capacity building for both officers and stakeholders. We are committed to leveraging our internal capacity while exploring collaboration opportunities with external partners like GIZ.” He said.

As we reflect on the one year of Customs CG, it is evident that the focus on consolidation collaboration and innovative solutions has yielded remarkable results.

The synergy created through collaborative efforts has not only streamlined processes but has also fostered a culture of efficiency and effectiveness within the Service.

The innovative solutions implemented have not only addressed existing challenges but have also paved the way for future growth and development.

Going forward, the NCS is advised to build on this foundation, embracing new ideas and working together towards achieving even greater success in the years to come.

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