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Adewale Adeniyi: The new Sheriff in Customs.

The Eyewitness Reporter
The last eight years in the Nigeria Customs Service have been characterised by undulating performance.
It has been a mixed bag of fortunes and misfortunes, rise and fall and tragicomedy in the performance of the service.
During those years, the rating of the service plummeted in the eye of the public and the stakeholders who were detached from the cold attitude of the top hierarchy of the Customs were not amused.
Most of the policies and actions of the service, most of which were devoid of human face, brought the agency into direct conflict with the public and the stakeholders due to the leadership style of the man who directed the affairs of the service for those years.
During those years, the officers were muffled and the stakeholders were ruffled.
Then came Adewale Adeniyi, the new Sheriff in Town.
Adeniyi ascended the high stool of Customs as the Customs Comptroller General at a time when the morale of officers was at the lowest ebb.
However, his coming, within the short period of three months, has brought hope, joy and renewed enthusiasm among the officers while it has sparked off a newfound love among the stakeholders who are elated over the crowning of the home-grown officer.
The fortune of the service which dipped during the last eight years and its public rating which plummeted within that period due to the rein of a non-customer officer as the head, have now suddenly sprang to life with the coming of the new Sheriff.
In June 2023, the appointment of Adeniyi as the new CGC by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu marked a turning point in the affairs of the Customs.
It signalled a rebirth of the service which has been grappling with unfavourable public opinion.
As expected, the appointment of the new Sheriff sparked a spontaneous jubilation and exhilaration among the staff of the service and the stakeholders.
This was expected given the professional acumen of the new CGC and his impressive track record in a service he had held sway for the past 30 years.
Adeniyi, as a thoroughbred professional in customs administration and human relations, immediately brought remarkable changes from the stiff and top-of-horse leadership approach of the last eight years.
As an astute public relations expert, Adeniyi immediately went on an extensive engagement with all his officers and critical stakeholders.
He first engaged the powers that be with his direct engagement of Mr President, Governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwolu and the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu.
He also paid homage to the traditional rulers, including the Oni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi.
He thereafter engaged the officers, one-on-one at the Headquarters, interacting with them in their various offices under the air of camaraderie, displaying a rare leadership style that was alien in the last years in the service.
He then followed this up with a tour of the commands where he met with the officers before he headed to the border communities where he made a lot of efforts to create an atmosphere of mutual trust, support and harmonious relationship with the host communities and the customs, a vital ingredient that have long been lost to the last eight years of deep-seated suspicion and acrimony that were engendered by the the unfriendly posture of the last regime.
Not done, the new CGC also engaged the members of the maritime media, his constituency during his almost two-decade-long impressive rein as the super public relations officer of the service.
Adeniyi was not unmindful of his counterpart across the border in the Benin Republic to whom he paid homage in a bid to foster a harmonious working relationship that would promote trade and discourage smuggling between the two West African neighbours.
The lawmakers were also not left out in his extensive and strategic engagement as he hosted the members of the Senate Committee on Customs.
In addition, members of various government organizations and private bodies tasted the irresistible lure of Wale’s hospitality.
He didn’t leave the freight forwarders out of his public engagement as he made direct contact with them in their area of operations.
Adeniyi also reinvigorated the  Corporate Social Responsibility(CRS) of the service by visiting a motherless baby home in Ibadan where he promised to reactivate the milk of human kindness in the Customs under his leadership.
There was hardly any segment of society that Adeniyi did not court its cooperation and support to have an inclusive administration that is anchored on the goodwill of the people.
That is the hallmark of leadership excellence.
Adeniyi, as a versatile public relations expert, achieved a dual purpose with this extensive and strategic engagement.
First, he used it to reunite the customs with the critical stakeholders who had hitherto felt alienated by the detached managerial style of the last administration in customs.
Secondly, it used the engagement to launch the customs into a new path of operational rebirth where the new management he leads will carry out its onerous task with full cooperation and collaboration of critical stakeholders.
Similarly, the disbandment of the controversial CGC strike force and streamlining of the mushroom customs checkpoints has also endeared the new Sheriff to the stakeholders, especially the freight forwarders, who had had cause to complain in the past about the excesses of those special forces.
Adeniyi also showed his vast understanding of customs operations when he made trade facilitation the fulcrum of his administration.
All over the world, the Customs has duties to facilitate trade, collect revenue, detect and prevent smuggling, with none of the functions running counter against the others.
But over the years, especially in the last eight years, trade facilitation has been subjugated to revenue collection to the chagrin of stakeholders, but the decision of the new CAC not to injure trade facilitation in pursuit of revenue and smugglers is welcomed by the appreciative freight forwarders.
It is more gratifying to note that the new CGC has promised to break away from the past crude method of anti-smuggling tactics which had led to the avoidable death of officers and innocent people.
He hoped to achieve this by relying more on the deployment of technology which will maximise performance and minimise casualties.
The triumph of brain over brawn.
As the 14th indigenous Comptroller-General of Customs and 31st since its establishment in 1891, Wale Adeniyi, a brilliant public relations expert who is well grounded in Customs operations, Adeniyi is fast becoming a new face of the customs, a beckon of hope for the officers and stakeholders who have been yarning for a change from the last eight years of mutual suspicion and acrimony between the customs and its publics.
Stakeholders have therefore hailed the  Nigerian Customs Service Act, especially Section 14(1)(a) of the Act,  which states that “The President shall appoint a career officer from the Service, not below the rank of Assistant-Comptroller General (who shall be responsible for the overall management of the service) and be accountable for all revenue collections and all expenditures made under this Act”.
It was this new Act that enabled President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to discover and unleash the talents and professional acumen of Wale Adeniyi on the customs for maximum impact.
Until his appointment, Adeniyi was in charge of Strategic Research and Policy at the Customs Headquarters in Abuja.
A professional who is conscious of the need to build a solid image for the agency, Adeniyi once served as customs spokesman for almost two decades until January 2017 when he was redeployed to the Apapa Area Command as a Deputy Comptroller.

He was promoted to the rank of Comptroller in 2017 and appointed Deputy Commandant of the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja.

In 2019, he was redeployed to serve as the Controller of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Command, Lagos.

He was promoted to the rank of Assistant Comptroller General in February 2020 shortly after he supervised the seizure of $8.07 million cash being illegally taken out of Nigeria through the E-Wing of the international airport tarmac. He was subsequently posted to head the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja as Commandant.

In recognition of his service, former President Muhammadu Buhari, on October 11, 2022, conferred the national honour of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) on Adeniyi.

Stakeholders are unanimous in their conviction that the Nigeria Customs Service will witness a galloping development, turn around of fortunes and professional excellence under the stewardship of  Adeniyi.

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Performance of Apapa Customs scanning officers excites Comptroller Jaiyeoba

The Eyewitness Reporter
The Area Controller of Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba has lauded the uncompromising attitude of the officers of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology Unit (NIITU) which he said has been invaluable to the overall success of the command.
Comptroller Jaiyeoba, who was on an unscheduled visit to the scanner site, reminded the officers of the importance of teamwork as a strong basis to sustain the gains of compliance and revenue collection recently recorded by the command.
He thanked Deputy Comptroller Salamatu Atuluku, the Officer in charge of the scanning site and encouraged the unit not to be deterred by complaints coming from persons who were made to pay accurate duties to the government after issuance of demand notices
According to him, no business person who is made to part with money will be happy with officers who refused to compromise the ethics of their job
” The main reason for me coming here is to appreciate you. I may not see you but I have seen your work and I won’t keep quiet about what I have seen about your work.
“You are doing very well. I just want to encourage you to work as a team. If you don’t work as a team, you give room for outsiders to come in and when they come in, they divide you and when they divide you,  achieving success will be very difficult
” Do your work without blemish. Once you keep your arm straight, you can stand before anybody. Your work as a customs officer is to ensure that you do the correct thing
” For those of you doing an intervention in the form of Demand Notice(DN), there is no body who part with money that will be happy with you.
“They will want to play intelligent by hiding somewhere. When you fetch them from their hiding place, they become your enemy. Whatever they write about anybody here will still come down to me and if anybody works well, the onus on me is to defend such a person.
“Just have it at the back of your mind that you owe yourself the duty of doing your work diligently whether anyone comes around as a friend or enemy.
“It is not enough for you to rest. The reward for hard work is more work. These demands require sacrifice so that you can maintain the status” he said.
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Apapa Customs contributes 36.3 percent of N1. 347 trillion revenue generated by the Service  in three months

Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba
—– as the flagship command grosses N489b in Q1
The Eyewitness Reporter
The Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service has continued to live up to its status as the Customs’ cash cow as it garnered the sum of N489,614,095,022.15 in the first three months of the year.
The amount, which was 100 percent higher than the N212.5b collected in the corresponding period of 2023, was 36.3 percent of the total earnings of the service in the first quarter of 2024 which stands at N1, 347,675,608,972.75.
In a press statement signed by Abubakar Usman, the Chief Superintendent of Customs and the Public Relations officer of the command, the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the command, Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba, commended the officers and port stakeholders for their cooperation towards the attainment of the laudable feat and called for sustained compliance by government and private sector stakeholders.
According to the statement, Comptroller Jaiyeoba reminded them that the Apapa Command of the NCS is playing a critical role towards the realisation of the N5.7tr annual target of the NCS in 2024 and as such all hands should be on deck to achieve it.
“The almost N 2 trillion target the command is expected to collect in 2024 is attainable through diligently abiding by the service books of instructions like the Nigeria Customs Service Act (NCSA) 2023, government import/export prohibition lists, Common External Tariff and Federal Government approved Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)” the Customs chief said.
While thanking the officers for their punctuality, diligence, and non-compromise in the discharge of their responsibilities, Jaiyeoba reminded them of the CGC Bashir Adewale Adeniyi and Customs Management confidence vested in them.
The CAC reminded them that the present customs management has created room for multiple benefits for those who comply with the rules.
He stated that the recently launched AEO is one of such benefits.
Jaiyeoba described the command’s first quarter collection as a bold step towards the realisation of the target and reminded all port users about the importance of compliance, which, according to him, comes with multiple benefits.
“I want to urge all stakeholders in Apapa Port to keep supporting us in achieving an efficient system where everyone plays by the rules to achieve smoother, seamless, and faster import/export cargo clearance
“Making honest declaration puts the declarant at a vantage position to have a credible reputation and enjoy the benefits that come with earned integrity such as fast track and possible migration to the authorised economic operator(AEO)
” Such attitude of compliance saves time and money as examination officers would find the cargo less cumbersome to process and other units of the service including sister government organisations would not need to flag such cargo for seizure or arrest of the importers/exporters. The cargo gets cleared on time, and payments for penalties after demand notices are not necessary as no DN is issued on compliant import/export.
” I will continue my weekly engagement of stakeholders at various levels to sustain the tempo of our achievements and consolidate on the gains from regular enlightenment of every member of the port community.
“As we step into the second quarter to end the first half of 2024, I am convinced we will do better in revenue collection, facilitate more trade through our port and prevent smuggling under any guise,” the CAC said.
It is on record that the 2024 revenue target of the Apapa Customs put at about N2 trillion is 35.1 percent of the total revenue target of the whole service for the year put at N5. 7 trillion.
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Customs laments effects of fluctuation in exchange rates on operations, cargo volume

—praises efforts of Finance Minister to stabilise the market 
The Eyewitness Reporter
The Nigeria Customs Service has lamented the difficulties posed by the fluctuation in customs exchange rate to the clearance of consignments at the ports as well as its militating effects on cargo volume in the first quarter of the year.
Adewale Adeniyi, the Comptroller General of the Service, while giving the scorecard of the service in the last three months of the year, recounted the damage done to the confidence of the trading public as well as the repercussions of the unstable exchange rates.
According to him, the first quarter witnessed a total number of 28 rates as determined by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which governed the clearance of goods at the ports.
“Additionally, significant fluctuations in exchange rates applied in the customs clearance of consignments posed considerable difficulties.
“As per protocol, the exchange rate utilized by Customs in the clearance of goods via the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) is based on the rate determined by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“In the last quarter, a total of 28 rates were directed by the CBN, ranging from NGN 951.94 per USD 1 in January 2024 to a peak of NGN 1,662.35 per USD 1 in February 2024.
“While a singular exchange rate of NGN 951.94 per USD 1 was maintained in January, February witnessed 15 different spot rates ranging from NGN 951.94 per USD 1 to NGN 1,662.35 per USD 1.
” March saw a total of 13 different spot rates applied, ranging from NGN 1,303.84 to NGN 1,630.16. These fluctuations resulted in an average applied exchange rate of NGN 1,314.03 per USD 1 in the clearance of Customs goods during the quarter”
Adeniyi disclosed that the unstable rates, apart from disrupting the operations of the customs,  also have far-reaching consequences as they sent worrying signals to the market operators and the industry stakeholders.
“The repercussions of these fluctuating rates have sent concerning signals to our stakeholders, affecting and disrupting activities.
” Beyond the speculation regarding potential gains it may have on NCS revenue, the implications on transaction volumes are significant and outweigh any possible benefits.
“These concerns are already manifesting in current activities, with the potential for lagged effects in the coming months” the customs boss lamented.
He however praised the efforts of the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, whose support for the customs made the agency engage the CBN in periodic consultations that eventually restored sanity to the system.
“Mindful of these implications on the trading public and the overall economy, the NCS, with the support of the Honourable Minister of Finance, has initiated periodic consultations with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to mitigate the potential impact of exchange rate fluctuations on import activities.
” The relative stability in the past days can be attributed to the interventions of the Honourable Minister of Finance and the Governor of the CBN.
Adeniyi further rued the campaign of calumny launched against the service by those whom he described as malicious non-state actors to undermine the integrity of the agency.
He vowed that the service, under his leadership, is resolute in solving genuine, evidence-based complaints and observations but will not succumb to cheap blackmail.
“The NCS encountered non-operational challenges stemming from deliberate attempts by malicious actors to undermine the reputation of the Service.
” It is crucial to underscore that the NCS remains resolute in addressing genuine, evidence-based observations, as we have consistently done in the past.
” Constructive, fact-based criticisms channeled through appropriate means are always welcomed by the Service, as they keep us vigilant in fulfilling our commitment to the crucial responsibilities entrusted to us.
” Despite these challenges, we are steadfast in prioritizing transparency and accountability in all our operations, reaffirming our dedication to serving with integrity and excellence” he pledged.
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