Speaker of the House of Representatives , Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, monday tongue lashed the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, for boycotting the public hearing on a bill to repeal the Customs and Excise management Act of 2014. A visibility angry Gbajabiamila expressed his displeasure over the apparent nonchalance of the Customs boss in his non appearance at the public hearing said it was totally unacceptable. The Speaker said ‘ this public hearing is more important than any event which may have prevented him from the public hearing. I had to delay the resumption of plenary to be physically present with you’ , said.
He explained that the bill when passed would reposition the Nigeria Customs Service in tandem with international best practices and make the Service more result oriented. Earlier in his opening remarks, Chairman of the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Hon Leke Abejide, listed the legislative initiatives on the bill to include ; Collation of all Customs and Excise legislations into a single compendium of the Customs and Excise Act to facilitate easy reference;The Act will position the Nigeria Customs Service to be financially stable in order to recruit the required number of officers they need to man our porous border stations and provide legislative imputs in the appointment of the Comptroller General of Customs as is done in the appointment of Service Chiefs. Other obsolete laws the Committee want reviewed include the rejigging of the Board with competent and result oriented technocrats for smooth and fast operation of the Service , among other sundry issues. Hon Abejide further explained that the present workforce of 15,349 falls short of the about 30,000 officers and men required if the Service must perform optimally.
The Committee Chairman explained that the present 7per cent cost of duty collected allocated to the Service was barely enough for recurrent expenditures, not to talk about capital projects and that the new bill seeks a 4per cent FOB , according to international best practices. Three Deputy Comptrollers General, Assistant Comptrollers General and other top management staff of the Nigeria Customs Service attended the hearing.