Uche Usim, Abuja
Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali on Friday charged his officers and men to deepen their knowledge of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), as there will be no room for non-ICT compliant staff in the next 18 months.
Speaking on Friday at the graduation ceremony for participants of Senior Course 3 held at the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Ali noted that ICT was not only the official language of global business but also the future of the world, stressing that anyone or organization that wants to succeed in the fast-paced 21st century must deeply embrace ICT.
He said: “In the next one year or one and a half years, if you don’t have deep ICT knowledge, you would lose relevance in NCS.
“Your performance record will be online and your bosses will assess you online. You will do all your operations online. The paper works will go. It’s part of the e-Customs project already approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The processes of declaration and revenue collection will be fully automated using ICT. That’s where we are headed”.
The Customs boss also revealed that the Federal Government has approved the upgrade of the Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada to a world-class training institution that will offer an array of broadened paramilitary courses using latest technologies as obtained in developed climes.
He said that the upgrade was a confirmation of government’s determination to retain manpower development as the engine room of the Service, even as he noted that the institution was now headed by a Deputy Comptroller-General unlike in the past where an Assistant Comptroller-General was in charge.
Ali said 40 officers selected from various Customs formations participated in the five-month Senior Course 3 programme at the college.
He, however, expressed sadness over the demise of one the participants, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, A. K Bello.
He added: “We’ve secured the upgrade of the institution, it’s now headed by a DCG. We need this sort of institution to develop capacity, without it, we wont grow.
We’re now in the era of technology and artificial intelligence and so we need constant upgrade of knowledge. We’ve to evolve ways of meeting with the challenges of a fast moving society. This is where research comes in and we will invest in it. Already, we’ve approval of Mr President to deploy e-Customs”.
On the lingering issue of border closure, Ali said the border drill will continue for a while and lay the foundation for Nigeria’s economic growth by sanitizing the land frontiers.
“If not, when AfCFTA kicks off, Nigeria will be a dumping ground.
We just need to sanitize our borders so our industries can thrive”.
Earlier in his remarks, the Kaduna State Governor, Mr Nasir el-Rufai hailed the federal government for shutting down the land borders, stressing that neighbouring countries were using the open gates of the Nigeria to turn her into a dumping grounds of some sort.
He urged the government to sustain the tempo until such a time when neighbouring countries will demonstrate sufficient respect for all trade treaties with Nigeria.