Dissecting Adewale Adeniyi’s Midas Touch As Customs CG

Comptroller General Of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi 
In this report, we chronicled the transformation agenda of the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, in the last one year in office.  The trade reforms, modernisation, seamless cargo facilitation, restructuring, increased revenue generation, anti- smuggling among others would be deconstructed and put into proper perspective.
In one year that President Bola Tinubu appointed Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, as the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), there have been a lot of reform, modernisation, renewed anti-smuggling war, restructuring that has helped reposition the service for global competitiveness.
Adeniyi was appointed acting CG on Monday 19th June, 2023 and since then, he has hit the ground running by returning the service to professionalism, trade facilitation, revenue generation and stricter enforcement of border security.
Since Adeniyi’s appointment, the service has enhanced  Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) at the country’s seaports, airports and land borders.
For instance, Adeniyi immediately after his appointment assured President Bola Tinubu, Nigerians and potential investors of a more effective and innovation-driven service.
“In the last eight years, the NCS has gone through a period of transition; in some areas, we recorded progress – we made remarkable progress in e-Customs. We made a lot of breakthroughs in capacity building, but the NCS can still live to its full potential when we bring in more innovation to drive Customs operations,” he said while taking over the service mantle of leadership.
 Adeniyi further added that all encumbrances and other obstacles to trade facilitation will be dismantled while we  foster a new culture of consultation and compliance
He also stated that the service would leverage on technology and innovation to break new grounds in its operations.
To this end, the acting CGC, have embarked on the following strides to reposition, reform and enhance revenue for the country.
Removal Of Bottlenecks Against Seamless Export At The Seaports
At a time the country is facing foreign exchange challenges, the country needs accrual from export proceeds.
However, to make export seamless and the process free of encumbrances, the service and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), collaborated to drive exports as part of measures to support the federal governments economic diversification effort.
Doing so, the Customs CG and the NPA MD, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said, will improve Nigeria’s export earnings and facilitation of export cargoes onboard ocean going vessels.
Part of the strategies was to streamline export desks to make facilitation of cargoes onboard vessels seamless.
“We in Customs believe that port efficiency would help to facilitate trade and also, NPA through all these programs is trying to promote the competitiveness of our ports this aligns with our vision because Nigerians are diverting their cargoes to neighboring ports and we must do everything to ensure that our ports remain competitive.
“The Nigerian economy is driven by our ports and finally we want to make our ports more efficient because when the ports are more efficient it would translate into better efforts in revenue generation so anything and everything that would help to reduce the time and the costs are what we would be exploring,” he stated.
He continued, “if we go through all of these areas that have been mentioned they all speak to ensuring that we have better ports, more efficient ports, more competitive ports that speaks to our needs.”

Assuring Foreign Investors Of Trade Facilitation, Ease of Doing Business 
Departing from the old norms, the service under the CGC, Adeniyi, assured foreign investors of trade facilitation and Ease of Doing Business (EoDB), at all times.
Adeniyi said he will collaborate with foreign and domestic traders, stating that his main priority was to take proactive measures to facilitate trade.
He also assured the delegation of the service’s unflinching cooperation in opening doors for any investor that may wish to invest their business in Nigeria
“The Nigeria Customs Service is aware that you are investors, and you would want your investment to be protected as well as to yield some dividends. Thus, if we can achieve the objectives of your coming to Nigeria, then I consider this as a good starting – and it is going to be a win-win collaboration for the parties involved,” Adeniyi stated.
Renewed Anti-smuggling Operations Across the Country 
The service acheived milestone in fight against smuggling have achieved impressive results as the service intercepted contrabands that serve as great risk to the country.
The CG also mentioned that in the first quarter of 2024, the service seized 572 items worth N10.59 billion in Duty Paid Value (DPV) and arrested 22 suspects.
He highlighted that rice was the most seized item, making up 39% of the total, followed by petroleum products at 26%, and motor vehicles and textiles at 9% and 6% respectively.
Adeniyi emphasized the service’s commitment to combating smuggling and addressing harassment of its personnel, outlining plans to enhance anti-smuggling efforts with tools like the Geographic Information System.
According to him, “One notable initiative is the integration of geospatial technology alongside the utilisation of satellite imagery and Artificial Intelligence tools and techniques. These efforts were initiated upon my assumption  of office to combat the longstanding issue of smuggling and enhance the NCS’s enforcement capabilities for effective monitoring of our extensive 4,000 km borders.”
“Additionally, this initiative will establish a Command and Control center to monitor activities along our borders comprehensively.”
Dissolution Of Ad-hoc Enforcement Teams Inhibiting Trade Barriers At Seaports 
As a mark of ensuring trade facilitation and promote best practices at the seaports, the acting Customs CG ordered the dissolution of CGC’s Strike Force Teams.
The CGC equally directed the federal operation units of Customs to take over all the responsibilities of the dissolved units across the country.
The CGC gave the Federal Operation Units and other anti-smuggling formations a marching order to use all the instruments of law available to discharge their duties.
He also directed strict adherence to enshrined standard operating procedure and rules of engagement while dealing decisively with economic saboteurs.
“To ensure transparency and accountability, all anti-smuggling formations have also been mandated to boldly ascribe their names on all operational vehicles to checkmate the possibility of excesses, misconduct and human rights abuse.”
Establishment Of Revenue Review Recovery  Team
In a bid to further strengthen the NCS’s revenue generating capacity, the customs boss, established a Revenue Review Recovery (RRR) Team.
The Revenue RRR Team‘s primary role is to identify operational inefficiencies, human errors, and fraud. The team was also mandated focus on recovering lost or uncollected revenues due to these factors, ensuring compliance with customs regulations, laws, and procedures. The team will also ensure that all available income streams are collected and documented, adhering to the relevant customs regulations and laws.
The team tracks and analyzes revenue performance to identify potential bottlenecks or delays that may need attention
The team was also directed to develop strategies to improve overall performance and recover lost revenue.
Harping on effective stakeholders collaboration, the team will work closely with various stakeholders, including customs officers, importers, and exporters, to ensure the successful implementation of revenue recovery strategies
By focusing on these key areas, the Revenue Review Recovery Team aims to optimize revenue collection and contribute to the financial health of the Nigeria Customs Service.
Customs Revenue Rises By 122.35% In Q1 2024
The decision to facilitate legitimate trade and block revenue leakages have continued to yield positive results under Adeniyi as the service generated over N1.3 trillion in revenue during the first quarter of 2024.
Despite low income due to the volatility of the exchange rate, the revenue generated represents an increase of 122.35% compared to the figure for last year.
The CGC stated, “The total revenue collected during this period amounted to N1,347,675,608,972.75. The collection for the first quarter represents a substantial increase of 122.35% compared to the same period last year, where N606,119,935,146.67 was collected.”
Furthermore, the C.G detailed the revenue growth, citing a significant increase in January 2024 with N390.824 billion earned, marking a 95.6% rise from January 2023’s N199.81 billion.
He continued by noting the revenue growth rates for February and March 2024, which stood at 138.68% and 132.76% respectively when compared to the same months in 2023.
Officers’ Career Development
Under his reign, a number of capacity development programmes have been organised locally and internationally for officers. During the second half of 2023, a total of 6000 officers travelled abroad for different capacity programmes. He also facilitated the completion of the promotion exercise for its staff where over 2,400 officers have benefited from the scheme.
For 2024, the NCS boss said he has a vision of using staff motivation to achieve a N5.1 trillion revenue target.
“We need to motivate our officers a little bit more because the last time we reviewed their salaries was over five years ago and I think we are due for another review and we will also take a second look at some of the allowances have been taken to do their jobs. We will also look at exit packages for officers who are retiring so that they will concentrate on the job while they are on active service, “he stated.
Under his watch, 50 Officers of Junior (Course 16) graduated from the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College in Gwagwalada, Abuja. The feat was of the commitment of the staff college’s dogged efforts to refine the work efficiency of the Officers and Men of the Nigeria Customs Service through training and re-training.
Stakeholders Reaction 
Stakeholders, however, applauded the giant strides of the CGC, saying he brought sanity and increased efficiency and effectiveness at the seaports.
Speaking, the paramount ruler of Yewa Land and Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, commended the gradual return of professionalism to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) since the appointment of the new Controller-General, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, and urged the NCS to remain focused and not allow their profession to be messed up again.
Acknowledging the reign of peace at the borders since the new CGC returned the service to professionalism, he said the service had been militarised. “Now you have the responsibility to promote professionalism and not allow others to take over your profession.”
He further stated that though frictions still exist, especially given the harsh economy and high unemployment, there had not been killings as before.
Also speaking, the President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Emenike Nwokeoji, applauded the customs boss in terms of stakeholders engagement.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Alhaji Ayokunle Sulaiman, the ANLCA President commended the Customs CG over the staggering N4.49trillion revenue he generated in one year.
He further stated that under the current Customs CGC, various commands have been holding periodic engagement with stakeholders as stipulated in the new Customs Act.
“We want to appreciate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for giving us a round peg in a round hole, a seasoned and well trained officer to man the position of Comptroller-General of Customs. Remember that he is a PR guru, he was the former National Public Relations Officer of Customs, meaning that he must have gone round to know the challenges. Apart from Customs training, the challenges of stakeholders and how to move the service forward.
“We heard recently that in his one year in office, he has generated over N4trillion and this is unprecedented. In terms of technology, he has done tremendously well. In area of border security, he is also trying his best. Often times you see different stories coming from the commands that they were able to arrest some arm dealers and importers of ammunition.
“In terms of stakeholders engagement, in the Customs Act 25 of 2023, it is well stated there must be stakeholders engagement at intervals, and from all indications, all Customs Commands and their Area Controllers have really keyed into this agenda of the CGC to make sure that stakeholder engagement does not have a set back.
On his part, the President, Association of Marítime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi, commended the Customs CG,
for ensuring that containerised trucks belonging to innocent haulers are now being released by the customs.
The trucks, many of which had been trapped at the Federal Operations Unit of Customs across the country are usually impounded as means of conyeyance alongside seized cargoes.
Chief Ogungbemi assured the Customs CG, that AMATO as an umbrella body of truck owners in Nigeria would continue to support him to achieve his vision and mission of trade facilitation at the ports.
He said, “Mr. Bashir Adewale Adeniyi is an epitome of Renewed Hope Agenda, a man of vision and mission with passion for result and excellence on duty.
“The philosophy of his sterling administration anchored on Renewed Hope Agenda of the Federal Government in the last one year witnessed a tremendous increase in the Nigerian Customs Service revenue generation, rapid expansion in the frontiers of trade facilitation, friendly stakeholders engagement policy and ease of doing business in the Nigerian Maritime ecosystem.
“Without iota of doubt, the principles of CG Bashir Adewale Adeniyi is catalyst for rapid national economy growth and development. AMATO is poised to support the CG customs to achieve his vision and mission of his administration. We wish him more successful and prosperous years ahead.”

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