By Abe Kolawole
It is that time again when hard work and dedication to duty and fatherland is rewarded. When I learned of the Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna Legacy for True Leadership Awards as put together by the Arewa Youth Council, I leaped for joy for very obvious reasons. Chiefly amongst them is the fact that the award would seek to promote hard work and dedication to duty of its recipient.
I went into deep thoughts on who is deserving of the award in the avalanche of people that have been nominated. I was somewhat confused because the various nominees have indeed distinguished themselves in service to the fatherland. But one name struck me so hard that I had to devote substantial time to study him and his contributions to the growth and development of Nigeria. In my research on this notable individual, I was astonished on how he has made a mark in the sands of time within three years. Enter the world of Hameed Ali, the incumbent Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service.
Under his watch, the Nigerian Customs Service has posted brilliant results regarding revenue generation. In 2017, The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, recorded its highest revenue collection ever of over N1 trillion as against N770 billion target set for 2017. According to the Public Relations Officer of the NCS, he stated that the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), undertook some strategic measures regarding restructuring and repositioning the service for efficient service delivery which resulted in this historic revenue figure from the service this year.
Also, in May 2018, the NCS recorded its highest-ever monthly revenue collection of N100.1billion. The list is quite inexhaustible and a testament of the numerous reforms that was introduced by the Comptroller General. I must add that I was also surprised that all of these could be achieved in a sector that has been hijacked by a notorious cartel. Previously we were witness to the shady deals in the Nigeria Customs Service. It was so bad that we fear that at some point, the country would collapse before our very eyes because of the criminality ongoing at the borders and ports.
But fast-forward to 2018, the exploits of the Nigerian Customs Service has improved tremendously that accolades are not in short supply. Also, the operational effectiveness of the NCS improved tremendously that we witnessed lots of interceptions at the seaports, airports and land borders. Worthy of mention are the several interceptions of rifles, ammunition, military uniforms, military hardware and other dangerous items by men of the NCS.
What this tells us is that the days of the jackal are over. And sanity restored to the system. I must also add that it is only a brave heart that can embark of such a mission considered suicidal in a way given the various interests represented there. But Col. Hameed Ali proved his mettle. He also showed that the era of business, as usual, has ended regarding undue interference by political institutions and office holders.
A good example was seen in his rift with the Senate of the National Assembly where as usual they tried to intimidate him into surrendering to their whims and caprices by resorting to blackmail and other untoward means. But guess what, he didn’t succumb to the threats and stood on the path of the truth. What impressed me was that if he was someone that had skeletons in his cupboard, I am sure he wouldn’t have taken the tough stance. Instead, he would have negotiated and sort for relief. That speaks a lot about integrity and service to the fatherland. I recall at a forum, Col. Hameed Ali stated that “I took this job because of my commitment to serve this country selflessly, having earlier done so in the military. So, nobody can tell me that am not a committed Nigerian,” and I could not agree less. This commitment to the Nigerian cause is what endeared him to my heart that I decided to pen this article.
The Arewa Youth Council should do well to recognize the gift of Col. Hameed Ali and look no further for that individual that fits the award. I say this with all sense of modesty because there must have been a reason why President Muhammadu Buhari so appointed him the head the NCS. And in my opinion, the reason was to sanitize the NCS and confront the vicious cartel that has held the country to ransom. And it is to the credit of Col. Hameed Ali that the NCS has bounced back to operational efficiency and recording improved revenue generation.
It is thus my considered opinion that Col. Hameed Ali is all deserving in recognition of his invaluable contribution to the fatherland. And to think that since he was appointed the Comptroller General of Customs, there hasn’t been a single scandal in the operations of the NCS. If this is not phenomenal, I do not know what to call it.
And so, the Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna Legacy for True Leadership Awards fits his cap perfectly in my opinion. It is hoped that men like Col. Hameed Ali would be given the due recognition that they deserve in a country like Nigeria because they need to be encouraged to continue to render selfless service for the continued growth and development of Nigeria. And who knows if this award can further spur him to greatness.
*Kolawole, former PRO, National Association of Nigerian Students [NANS] wrote from Lagos.