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MBA Musa: a silent working machine at Tin Can Customs

By Eyewitness Reporter


His mien gives him away as a harmless, non-assuming introvert.

But beneath his calm look lies a tough, determined and uncompromising work attitude that has distinguished the Tin Can command of the Nigeria Customs service as one of the biggest revenue baskets of the service.

Musa Baba Abdulahi(MBA), the  Customs Area Comptroller of the Tin Can command, bestrides the command like a gentle giant.

He presides over the command reputed as the second cash cow for the Nigeria Customs Service with unassuming dexterity and clinical efficiency.

Musa is not given to publicity. He hardly grants press interviews.

He loathes calling the press to flaunt his achievements at the command.

He believes that aspect is better handled by his equally versatile  Public Relations Officer,  Uche Ejesieme, who has equally mastered and emulated the work ethics of his boss.

While he leaves the talking to his spokesman, Musa marshals his officers to do the work he was mandated: revenue collection, trade facilitation, discouragement of anti- illicit practices such as importation of contraband and seamless Customs operations.

He believes his works and achievements are enough to publicise him.

So, while his colleagues enjoy generous publicity, Musa daily buries his head in his works, churning out impressive results which have consistently screamed the name of the command to the hearing of his superior officers at Abuja.

His consistent impressive performance at the command has however adequately compensated for his almost anonymity at the unit.

No wonder his no-nonsense boss, Col. Hammed Ali, the Comptroller-General of Customs, seems to have ” forgotten” to redeploy him from the command as the case of other area Comptrollers whom he changes at will.Against the norm of high mortality of the tenures of Area Comptrollers at the Commands, Musa has spent three years two months so far as the helmsman of the Tin Can Command.

And the CGC seems not in a hurry to look in his direction for a change yet except when it is time for his elevation to the next rank.

Whoever knows the practice of the CGC who shuffles his field commanders at the drop of his hat, then the ‘ long’ and running tenure of Musa is a feat “unheard of” under the administration of Col. Ali.

While all other commands, especially the ‘grade A’ commands,  have experienced multiple turnovers of the CACs in the past years, the Tin Can Command has enjoyed relative stability in terms of changes in helmsmen since February 2018 when Musa berthed at the Tin Can Command.

But it would be fallacious to assume that the eagle- eye, highly mobile CGC overlooked or  ‘forgot’ to include Musa in the litany of redeployments that have come to characterise his administration, but it seems Musa is “playing the match according to the match plan” of his coach.

In football, you don’t change a winning team.

At his resumption of office as the CGC in September 2015, Hameed Ali pointedly told his senior officers in Abuja about his unambiguous mission to the Customs.

“I have come to carry out the mandate of Mr. President to reform Customs, to restructure Customs, and to increase the revenue generation.

“I don’t think that is ambiguous. I don’t think that is cumbersome. It is precise and I believe that is what all of you are here to do” the CGC had then said six years ago.

So Musa has stayed this long because he knew and mastered the rules of engagement.

Statistics show why Musa has wormed his way into the heart of his boss, a feat that is almost inconceivable given the deadpan expression the CGC always wears which gives him away as someone who doesn’t indulge in needless emotions.

When he was redeployed from the office of the CGC to Tin Can Command on February 1st, 2018, Musa had a clear understanding of his vision and mission to the command.

“Part of my key mandates includes trade facilitation, driving of seamless ease of doing business, provision of coordinating roles in port operations, and strict maintenance of national security at the ports.

“The Command will continue to maintain lead in revenue generation which remains a core function of the Customs,” he said at his maiden press conference in 2018.

This has therefore been the driving force of MBA since he berthed at the Tin Can command where he has consolidated on revenue generation, trade facilitation, capacity building, and cordial working relationship with other stakeholders through constant engagement that has resulted in seamless operations.
In 2018 when he took over, he met N62 billion in the revenue coffers bequeathed to him by his predecessor out of the N354 billion target for that year.
But he went on to surpass the revenue projection.
In 2019, he brushed aside the N342 billion revenue target with more than N4 billion in excess when the command generated N346.508 billion.
Expectedly, the command was greatly challenged in its 2020 revenue drive due to the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic which affected importations.
Ironically, that was the year the command, relying on its track records of revenue successes, confidently raised the N504 billion target given to it by the Customs headquarters to N540 billion, which was about 70 percent higher than the previous year’s.
The command started on a brighter revenue note in 2021 despite the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic when it raked in N112.7 billion within the first three months of the year, a figure that was N21.1 billion higher than the N91.6 billion realised within the same period in 2020.

“The comparative analysis of quarter one revenue collection from 2018 to 2021 are as follows: in 2018, N76,789,721,107.42; in 2019, N78,857,106,168.27; and in 2020, N91,635,998,490.73,” the customs boss said

“This improvement is despite the twin threat to lives and livelihood posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The command has inspired their officers to continue to work hard while observing all the safety measures to achieve the best of performance.

“We kept our lines of communication open and concerted effort was made to ensure that the supply chain is not disrupted,” Musa said of the geometric increase in revenue performance since he took over.

The success of Musa lies in his heavy deployment of technology to track revenue, plug revenue leakages, and reduce excessive physical contacts between officers and the trading public which he believes will minimise corruption.

He also put much emphasis on building human capacity as he believes well-trained and motivated officers will enhance efficient service delivery.

As a result, officers are being trained on a regular basis on some of the core functions of the customs in the areas of classification, risk management, and data management, the areas in which Musa himself is well versed as a Mining Engineer who joined the service as a Cadet Officer in 1990,  and had undergone several trainings in Valuation and Classification, which are the core duties of the Nigerian Customs Service.

Trade facilitation holds as much passion for Musa as revenue generation.

This was why at his resumption of duties in 2018, he reinvigorated the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) which he personally heads, and made his PRO the deputy to sit daily and resolve all issues arising from valuation within six hours.

This was unlike the previous arrangement when the committee sat two times a week.

He also deployed and beefed up the Time Release study tool to determine the actual time required for the release and clearance of goods right from the time the cargo arrives to the physical release from Customs’ control.

Time Release study was a strategic tool that was capable of identifying bottlenecks in the trade value chain and creating an enabling environment for effective and efficient customs operations.

Musa made judicious use of all these tools and methods which create a conducive, customers- friendly environment that facilitate the quick clearance of goods and which in turn boosts his revenue drive.

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Customs collects N1.7trn  revenue in 8 months

CGC, Ali


–embarks on aggressive revenue hunts to meet target

The Eyewitness reporter

The Nigeria Customs Service has collected a whooping sum of  N1,755,386,486,390.02  as revenue in the first eight months of the year spanning January and August.

The service made the highest monthly earnings of N241,903,781,854.46 in August as the service intensifies its aggressive revenue drive to meet the expectations of the Federal Government which has come to rely on the revenue from the service to fund its critical project.

This follows the diversification of government to non-oil sectors and expands its tax base due to the dwindling revenue from the oil sector.
The revenue in the first eight months of 2022 is N363,436,321,614.95 higher than N1,391,950,164,775.97 the customs collected in the corresponding period of 2021.

Abuja has increased its focus on non-oil revenue sources, prompting higher expectations from revenue collection agencies such as the NCS, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), among others.

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Why we adopted direct auction sale for scrap vehicles—-Customs

seized vehicles waiting to be auctioned


The Eyewitness reporter
The Nigeria Customs Service has explained the reason why it recently disposed of scrap vehicles under its control through the direct auction sale method.
In an exclusive interview with our reporter, the National Public Relations Officer (NPRO) of the Service, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi, explained that no sane person could purchase those damaged vehicles for use except those who melt them into metal as raw materials.
” Yes, the vehicles we auctioned through direct sales were all scraps. They are vehicles used by smugglers which are purposely built for their nefarious activities.
“These vehicles are damaged beyond repairs and the service could not upload such vehicles on its auction portal to the general public.
“That was why we sold them directly at very ridiculously low prices to iron smelting companies who will melt them into iron.
“These vehicles litter all our commands in the country and are constituting an environmental nuisance.
“So we needed to evacuate them from those places for the safety of our officers who are constantly being faced with the danger of attacks from snakes and other dangerous reptiles which hide under the cover of these scrap vehicles”, Bomodi declared.
He said his explanation was meant to clarify what he described as false information and misconception being peddled to the public by auctioneers.
The auctioneers have accused the Customs of branding about 6000 seized vehicles as scraps before selling them off at cheap prices to their cronies.
The aggrieved auctioneers have further claimed that the Customs conducted the auction of the vehicles without open competitive bidding as it’s enshrined in the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act, 2007.
“So far, about 6,000 vehicles have been sold to their cronies through the so-called direct auction allocation.
“The vehicles, which could have fetched the government huge revenue, were sold as scraps at giveaway prices.

“We all know that it is a ploy to enrich their favoured contractors at the expense of the government.

” The government is being denied the revenue it would have realised from open competitive auctions.
” If this government is serious, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali should be answering tough questions from either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the National Assembly by now,” the Auctioneers claimed.
They further alleged that instead of selling the confiscated goods through public auctions as mandated by the law, the NCS had been selecting the dealers it sells to.
“What the BPP Act says
Section 55 (3) (5) of the BPP Act stipulates that open competitive bidding shall be the primary source of receiving offers for the purchase of any public property offered for sale.
“For the purposes of this Act, public property is defined as resources in the form of tangible and non-tangible assets (ranging from serviceable to the unserviceable).

“According to a letter from the NCS to a company, AMEX West Africa Limited and dated March 25, 2022, with reference number: NCS/ADM/MGT/012/S.2/C, signed by the Chairman, Direct Disposal of Scraps Committee, Comptroller A.D Sanusi, titled, ‘Direct auction allocation of scrap vehicles and other items,’ it was indicated therein that 338 vehicles were sold for N3,380,000 through direct auction allocation in Abuja.
It read, ‘’I am directed to inform you that the Comptroller-General of Customs, acting on the provisions of Customs and Exercise Management (Disposal of goods) Act, CAP C46, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, hereby allocates the under-listed 338 lots of various scrap vehicles domiciled at Katsina State Area Command to your company as auction sales for the purpose of disposal, smelting and fabrication into raw materials for production valued at N3,380,000 only.

“All vehicles disposed of must be evacuated from the premises within 10 working days after payment or risk forfeiture.

” Furthermore, you are to note the following: Application for replacement of allocated vehicles would not be entertained. All allocation letters transferred or sold by the allottee to a third party shall be at the buyer’s risk.’’
However, Bomodi stated that the auctioneers were only being mischievous and clever by half in their claims as the vehicles auctioned through the direct disposal method were actually scraps and not branded as such.
He disclosed that Customs still conducts open bidding auction exercises on its auction portal.
“The last time we conducted the auction of serviceable vehicles on our portal was early this year and another round of the exercise will soon be conducted” he disclosed.

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Anger, frustration among freight forwarders as government increases Customs exchange rate again

CGC, Ali
The Eyewitness reporter
There was a wild wave of anger, despondence and frustration among the freight forwarders Monday as they were slammed with yet another increase in the Customs exchange rate.
Our reporter gathered that Customs brokers woke up Monday to find a new exchange rate on the Customs portal, different from the one left there last Friday.
From the screenshot of the portal shared with our reporter, the rate has been increased from $409 to  $422. 3, a difference of $13.
Confirming the increment, Mrs Onome Monije, the Public Relations officer of the Tin Can chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), said the change in the exchange rate was dumped on the agents without any prior notice.
Mrs Monije declared that the increment would automatically lead to higher costs in goods clearance and the value of goods in the market.
While absolving Customs of any blame since “they were merely implementing government fiscal policy as directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)”, she however appealed to the authority to always give freight forwarders prior notice of such changes.
The ANLCA chieftain admonished her colleagues not to cut corners but intimate their importers of the new development in order to comply with the new changes in the customs exchange rate.
However,  there was angst among a cross-section of freight forwarders who expressed frustration and disappointment over the latest increase.
They expressed anger that it has become a normal practice by the government cum Customs to slap such increases on them without prior notice.
They feared that the latest increase will further lead to astronomical increases in the cost of clearance, especially vehicles, which costs, they said, have already been jerked out of reach of average Nigerians.
According to Onome, the increment will result in a minimum of an additional 40,000 on a single small vehicle while it will result in a minimum of N100, 000 or more on a big vehicle whose clearing cost prior to now, is over a million.
She said the additional cost will be graduated depending on the volume of the consignment.
The new change, which has already taken immediate effect, may lead to a momentary delay or sluggishness in clearance procedure as the importers and their agents may have to adjust to the new reality.
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