The Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, has denied sacking 400 officers in the ongoing restructuring of the service.
Speaking to newsmen on Monday in Abuja, he said he was rather holding meetings with stakeholders to strategise on how to achieve better service delivery in the country.
He said, “I am not aware of any sacking; you are just telling me; I don’t know.”
Ali said that the essence of his visit to some stakeholders was to create a common platform that would drive the mandate and enable the service to achieve its set goals by the Federal Government.
He said that there was need for Nigeria to focus more on export than import, adding that Nigeria could not grow as a nation if it kept on importing goods and services.
Ali said there was need to review policies so as to focus on how to regenerate exportation.
“We must begin to focus on export than import; we are used to importing more.
He noted that 99 per cent of NCS business was clearing of imports.
He said only little was being exported and “we cannot grow as a nation if we keep importing”.
“Anytime we import, we are spending money out to somebody. We are growing somebody else industry; we should look at the policy in order to grow our economy.
“Therefore if we want to grow our economy, we have to put more emphasis on exportation than importation.
“We are doing restructuring; I have mandate given to me by Mr President to reform, structure and to raise revenues.
“And in the course of restructuring, a lot of things will have to happen and the visit is one of them,’’ Ali said.
Ali visited the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) where he called for assistance from the institution to enable customs to build its capacity and train officers to handle procurement based on the Established Act.
“We are here because procurement is one area that needs no mistake; I can afford to make mistake in some areas but there are two areas that I dare not make mistake, accounting and procurement.
“I realise that we in customs have some deficiency when it comes to capacity to be able to handle procurement.
“We want to get it right this time and the only way we can get it right is to come and learn from BPP.
“We are here to discuss with you to know how best we can further strengthen the synergy and also to have your support; so we can together drive the set objectives of this administration,’’ he added.
Responding, the Director-General, BPP, Mr Emake Eze, said that 350 officers from various agencies of the federation would undergo two weeks certification conversion course starting from Tuesday.
Eze said that the essence of the course was to train the procurement officers to be well established as professionals.
He advised the service to always recruit applicants with some qualification on procurement so that they can grow on the line.
Eze added that this would help the service to build a better department to handle its procurement activities.
“We have about 350 officers across the federation that applied for conversion and the officers were screened and only 168 was approved to undertake the course.
“I will like to appeal that in line with government circular, customs should get a separate department to be fully responsible for procurement.
“I am happy about your commitment to do the right thing because that is what drives any nation.”
He said that with the commitment of the leadership of the service, “I hope customs will witness improved services much more than you met the service.”
The BPP boss presented a legal framework guiding the operations of public expenditure in Nigeria to the comptroller general of customs as a tool to enhance the service in the area of procurement.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the customs boss also visited the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, National Automotive Council and others.