Customs controversy: Senator wants non-career persons barred from heading govt agencies

Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali
Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali

A senator, Sabi Abdullahi, says he will move for a law that will make only career civil servants head government agencies and parastatals.

Mr. Abdullahi, who is the spokesperson of the Senate, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

He was reacting to Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali’s refusal to wear the service’s uniform and on the proposed policy for vehicle owners to pay duty on their vehicles.

He said it was a disservice for civil servants not to be given the opportunity to head organisations they laboured decades to build.

The lawmaker added that bringing people from outside to head the agencies and parastatals had done more harm than good to the organisations.

According to him, some of the appointees have little knowledge of the workings of organisations they head, and this leads to anti-people policies, reduced productivity and other problems.

“I have a Bill I am working on; I am trying to bring my experience of how little things have brought the public service to what it is now.

“There has been reform but it has not changed anything.

“It is a disservice for me to be eyeing a career peak and just when I think the opportunity for me to get to that career peak is going to come, something happens.

“And, it is not just this one happening in the Customs, it happens in many parastatals; that is the fate they suffer unfortunately.

“So, we have to begin to choose between what is a career peak and a political appointment.

“Even within the career peak, for example, the Head of Civil Service; it is a political appointment but it is done among those who are in the career service,’’ he said.

On concerns by some Nigerians that allowing civil servants to rise to the point of heading organisations could lead to corruption, Mr. Abdullahi said it was not a good reason to deny them the opportunity.

“The question there is that, is the system not having a way of sanctioning and discipline? There is a way of sanctioning and discipline; every career does.

“In companies, the private sector, if you are doing the wrong thing there is a discipline for you and if it means taking you out of the system, they take you out of the system.

“My take is that it is a wrong thing that I serve as officer, maybe grade level 8, rose to grade level 16 or 17, without a query, and I have very good record of performance, with promotion and everything.

“Just at that last stage, you say that if you give it to me I am going to be corrupt.

“The person who is brought in, what will he protect in the system. But the career person has contributed to the system, has defended and protected it, and has promoted the system.

“So, those who are in service have more to protect for the interest of the system than those who are brought in because they have nothing to lose,’’ he said.

He gave some instances of where heads of organisations, who were appointed from outside, did not contribute meaningfully to the sustenance of the organisations.

“I have a lot of examples while in service. We were managing about 26 research institutes and colleges.

“I will tell you that over the past 10 years or 15 years that I know in the research institutes, for example, all the executive directors brought from outside remained the worse executive directors in those institutes.

“The case of Cocoa research is there, you can go and investigate; Lake Chad Research Institute is also there, just as Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin. There are many examples.

“We have many people who are brought from outside and they just come and mess the whole place up and mess those people who have given their whole life to a system,’’ he said.

The lawmaker said that it was time such disservice was corrected, adding that in most cases, people who were appointed from outside an organisation worked contrary to the mandate of such organisation.



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  • absam777

    Another backward thinking Senathieve. It’s all about them.

  • okpada

    Make laws that give maximum punishment for corruption instead of destroying the existing ones

  • Sword of Damocles

    this proposed bill makes life easier for the common man how?….. nothing else needs to be said

  • OGK

    Yes, Sabi is an acolyte of Saraki whose imported car has been caught in forged Customs papers web. Now, because Alli is refusing to play ball, as usual they want to scatter everything. What is required of them is to explain the latest corruption mud their ‘king’ is swimming in.

  • wode

    See these guys oh! They are always reactive in their approaches. They hardly think anything through before making move. This is exactly what played out when SLS challenged the vested interests, even in the National assembly, then, They started to think of laws that would “clip his wings” forgetting that he (Sanusi) was just an individual heading an institution and that he would one day leave the position and another person would be there.

    Let somebody inform this impulsive and thoughtless Senator to ensure that whatever bill he is sponsoring takes care of everything, the ministries, the agencies and parastatals of Government so that no minister or DG of any Ministry or Agency of Government would be appointed apart from those already in the ministry or the agency. And come to think of it, who would be mostly affected, Is it not the same politicians like this Senator that would be looking for Government appointment?

    These people are just so disgraceful and always ready to throw away the baby and the bath water whenever their grandstanding posture is challenged.


    where are d likes of area father charly boy,,it is time we rise up and occupy NASS,,dey are just taking us for granted,wat kind of bill is dis for GODS sake???hw many of d so called senator have moved a bill for capital punishment for currupt persons,dey are just making bills for dere own selfish interest it is time we take ouir destiny by force,becos those idiots cant do nothing for us dat is d basic truth,,PMB is trying his best but dey are frustrating his efforts,,enough is enough,,bunch of selfish and irresponsible thieves,,MAY D WRATH OF GOD STRIKE ANY SENATOR DAT IS WORKING AGAINST D PROGRESS OF NIGERIA

  • Tunde

    Sorry senator, but it’s the civil servants that have destroyed the system! You are focusing on a red herring! Please bring the many old laws up to date and stop wasting tax payers money on trivia!

  • Ado Abdul

    What you need is a nincompoop that you can hoodwink to allow you deny our country the much needed funds. Shameless.

  • Du Covenant

    What a mad dog, had the Nigerian civil servants done their respective jobs for the past 54 yrs, Nigeria would have been a much better place. The people this man is rooting for are the very people that engineered the stealing of this country dry!, Hello!!!..If the civil service was not broken why would anyone look for an outsider?. Frankly, this is yet another proof that democracy is not meant for everyone. You cried military rule was not good and look who is craving for uniform wearing people to be in places of authority. When it soothes these scum bags the cite what goes non in America, today the FBI Director testified in congress in his suit and tie etc., what type of people are we?.

    • Tayo Johnson

      I can’t understand these people at all…It is generally accepted that the Nigerian Civil Service is the cesspit of institutional corruption. So how can they ever perform well? It is also generally accepted that academicians, for example, are not as corrupt as career civil servants. Take the case of Professor Attahiru Jega. By this Senator’s suggestion, a career civil servant will always be the head of INEC. I will never agree to that. His is just a total knee-jerk reaction. No objective rationale. Typical. Not that I expect anything better from these people. We do need a civil revolution to chase out all these mediocre dullards from the Nigerian political terrain.

      • Du Covenant

        Thank you my broda, I am for everything necessary to chase these bunch of retards out of town but, unfortunately with the current mindset of most Nigerians, I doubt we shall win. I frankly do not know what else needs to be done to Nigerians so they can wake up and do something to our so called elite. Just look at what took place in South Korea recently, the people made sure the President was impeached. We inherited a reasonably good country with all the basics to be a great from the British, the Nigerian civil service made sure this never happened. Heads of states, Presidents, Ministers etc come and go, the career civil servants stay put and destroy everything good about Nigeria. It is only in Nigeria where an 80 yr old former civil is still dipping his hands the public coffers without remorse. My recipe is to replace all, we have plenty of graduates roaming the streets doing nothing, why these people be in those positions?, our lives have never and will never improve with the Nigerian civil service intact. If our young graduates replace these quacks and continue the culture of corruption then we are truly cursed and doomed!.

  • Gary

    God’s speed Senator, please expedite action on your proposed bill. The nation needs it now more than ever with politicians bringing in cronies and friends to supplant career civil servants in MDAs.
    The federal service was not helped but decimated by the imprudent mass sackings undertaken by the Murtala Muhammad regime. It was a mere exercise in playing to the gallery about weeding out corruption in the civil service and it backfired badly on competence, morale and integrity.
    Any Police AIG or ACG of Customs has no incentive to maintain a work ethic or reject opportunities to amass illegal wealth when unsure of his job security or career advancement before a political hack is brought to displace him or prematurely end his career. Hameed Ali knows squat about the operations of the Customs Service and disdains wearing its uniform yet he now holds the promotion of long-serving professionals in the agency in abeyance.
    That is simply unconscionable. Same applies to political appointees being Permanent Secretaries in federal and state civil services as patronage while the professional cadre is expected to dutifully serve these brigands brought in to steal through budget padding and diversion of allocations and contracts. If you want to know how and why corruption thrives in the MDAs, there you have it. Ask students of Public Administration in Nigeria and they will confirm this.

    • Uzoma

      Thank you, sir, for your contribution. Because, to tell you the truth, to read some of what other commenters are saying below, you would wonder if they even bothered to read what the senator is proposing. How can anyone not see the aberration in a system that will parachute a politician to head a specialized agency about which they know nothing, over the heads of career people who have spent all their professional lives being groomed to hold such positions?

      • Gary

        Pay them no mind. Most of them are regime propaganda operatIves who come online to attack perceived critics or open opponents of government policies. They are now shilling for Ali.

  • Eldorado

    This particular senate is actually childish.
    Do we really need bicameral legislation?
    Methinks it’s a waste of resources and a cog in the wheel of our development.
    Nigerian senate, stop dragging us back and increasing the peoples suffering


    The senate should also ensure that, the position of the Senate President and Speaker shall be occupied by persons with knowledge of constitutional law and must have be a SAN or attained the position of a High Court Judge .The senate should also amend the electoral law to read as follows-` (a).No incumbent shall be allowed to contest for any other position except the one he/ she is currently holding.
    (b)If such a person being an incumbent desires to contest for such a position, he/ she should resign at least 90 days prior to the date of the election.
    (c).Without prejudice to any persons, positions or sections of this Act, No incumbent Governor of a state, shall be allowed to contest for the position of Senator, House of Representative or President without resigning from his post 90 days prior to the date of the election
    d. No Incumbent Senator or House of Representative member , state House of Assembly member shall be allowed to contest for the position of Governor, Deputy Governor, President of the Republic without resigning from his current position 90 days prior to the election.
    e. No Councillor, LGA Chairman or person shall be allowed to contest for any other political position other than the one he or she is currently occupying with out resigning 90 days before the date of the election.
    This is greatly sanitize the political system and break once and forever this backward and forward political integration and political shifting cultivation that has been going on Nigeria since 1999.

  • Micha

    Useless senator..I blame we Nigerians that allowed you guys to be messing up with our future. I don’t blame you I blame the poor masses..

  • Salmanu Gwarzo

    This is more mature than embracing a senior citizen

  • truth

    You senators want civil servants you can easily cow and threaten. God will not allow it.

  • Isaac Azor

    Envious bunch of looters at work. Always perfecting strategies to have a hold on the system and get away with their loots.

  • Ade Omowest

    Another useless law that will not see the light of the day. Why can’t Senator Sabi Abdullahi also include the National Assembly to be led by a career civil servant instead of the Senate President? At least in USA, no Senator leads the Senate, as the senate President is also the Vice President.

  • Sadiq Garba

    Such positions are political, just like yours.