Hamid Ali takes Nigerians on Border 101

 


Border 101 is a first year or fresher course in the study of Citizenry Administration, which is a degree that qualifies a Nigerian as a patriotic and law abiding citizen. This Bachelor of Arts degree actually makes the holder of the degree as a Nigerian, to be able to work anywhere in the country – and of course in any establishment or private organisation. Essentially, it teaches one how to mark and configure our country’s borders, such that they become the only gateways through which people, goods and services, come into our country. Border 101 also teaches us how to effectively manage our seaside entry points or ports aa they are called, whereby goods are properly and adequately calibrated, and the appropriate revenue from the influx of the goods and services are collected and stored by the Nigeria Customs Service. 


When Col. Hamid Ali (Rtd.) was announced as the Professor to handle the course at the Nigeria Customs University, there was apprehension from Nigerians over the choice of a soldier to head the customs. The National assembly probed the matter and even tried to make him wear a customs uniform (forgetting customs is also para military isn’t it?). It looked like the custom’s officers themselves were a bit hesitant or reluctant to give the CG their co-operation, but eventually, Col. Ali had brought in updated and upgraded course materials, including e-learning and the use of some applications for course content storage and management. The officers sensed that there was a new approach to their degree programme and they needed to step up, step in and learn more from the promising new professor. 
The revenue generated by the Nigeria Customs Service has skyrocketed and with the closure of land borders, this revenue is headed for the stars. Why? Our very porous land borders have allowed goods, services, terrorists and bandits to come in and out of our oil rich country with agriculture and solid minerals; as sectors that are even richer than the oil, if properly handled and policed. Revenue from a lot of natural resources is leaking away like an Agege broken sewer line. The leakage seems to continue unabated without any sign of a solution nearby. Col Hamid, the CG decided to close the borders and as the months passed by, crimes of kidnappings, banditry, terrorism and the like were on a continuous decline, while government revenue through the duties and taxes via the customs collections at the ports were on an encouraging rise. It was rising like Ijebu garri. ‘De tin full plate, wata dey comot from the sides’. Even the handle of the revenue container was overflowing with water and the handlers couldn’t hold and lift the revenue box.


Some towns in the outskirts of Adamawa state were consuming 100 trailers of petrol daily. The border closure has caused for that to reduce to 30 trailers. The 70 were ‘awoof’ and no one was crying wolf! From 60 million litres daily local consumption of fuel, we are now back to the roughly 35 million litres daily consumption of fuel. Banditry attacks and terrorist activity are on a down low and the over 1400 terrorist attacks of 2015 has also declined tremendously to barely 400 in the last year and probably lower this year. Elements that work towards destabilising Nigeria come through the borders, inflict criminal activities within our borders and flee back through those channels. Hamid has locked up those borders.
Locking the borders doesn’t mean rice cannot be imported as some mischief makers want to deceive Nigerians that the border closure is targeting some states, while opening up business to some states. The fight against illegal import-export is a very challenging war where billions of naira are made illegally and all mechanisms are in full throttle to keep the business going. So therefore, all kinds of tribal sentiments would be brought into play, so as to disrupt the border strategy that is causing importers to go through the ports, declare their goods and pay the proper duties.


Clearly, our neighbors have been running us down and have contributed to the downfall of the value of our Naira against the dollar. With Hamid’s Border 101, Customs have generated 100 billion highest revenue in May 2019, with a total rake-in of N1.002 Trillion Naira in just 9 months. This signifies that with the proper measures at the borders, customs could make up to 2 Trillion Naira in a year!
General Muhammadu Buhari has just inaugurated the AfCFTA Action Committee, with a view to getting Nigeria to compete favourably with its West African neighbor countries, who are a little more stable in terms of infrastructures in place. This committee will ensure that the West African Trade Protocols are observed and respected by all members of the ECOWAS.
The recent commissioning of some security equipments and gadgets of the Nigeria Police Force – which includes 139 surveillance trucks/ vans, by President Buhari is such that: criminals that hitherto robbed and kidnapped innocent Nigerians are caught and brought to book. Mobile CCTVs are mounted on the trucks and would be positioned at strategic hotspots of these crimes. With closed up borders, the ready corridors for criminals roaming in and out of the country at will, are no longer available; or in the interim, atleast reduced to a minimum, which is a work in progress. 


The master stroke move that is – at the same time solving the problems of other government agencies both in the forces and in the financial sector, is the Nigeria Customs Service’s border closure. Hamid is showing and proving to Nigerians the benefits of border closure as a benefit to all, not the way the assembly is misconstruing it. The measure is strengthening the Naira, supporting CBN policies that are aimed at promoting local production and local employment which shores up our GDP positively, and removes our over dependence on oil revenues, while improving non oil revenues. The border closure 101 is surely a course that will improve the learning and overall understanding of Nigerians, of the workings of the Nigeria Customs Service. Hamid has done well, and so has every officer of a new Nigeria Customs Service. 
Tahir is Talban Bauchi