I’m happy the Senate did not succumb to Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali’s implausible pretexts of avoiding either appearance before the Senate or wearing the service uniform.
Since his illegal appointment as Comptroller General of Customs on August 27, 2015, Hameed Ali, a retired army colonel, flies the service aircraft, earns the service highest salary, occupies the top service office, but looks down upon the service uniform. He wants all the privileges attached to the office, except that grey uniform with green beret.
That military elitism of looking at the police with disdain, the paramilitary with derision and civilian with contempt is still running in Hameed Ali’s veins. Haughty, asocial and absolutist, Ali is a terrible oddball under a democratic setting.
But if Ali thinks their uniform is demeaning to wear, as his regimented, intemperate ego tells him, he should quietly leave the job for career officers or someone who could abide by the rules. It is not a matter of doing your job well, which is also put to question particularly by your senseless retroactive order on car duty payment. Ali’s order on mandatory duty payment for old vehicle owners is akin to forcing pre-JAMB era degree holders to sit for UTME and score 200 to validate their certificates or risk revocation of their degrees.
On the uniform, Ali should be reminded that discipline as essential in military as it is in paramilitary service. As it depicts discipline, commonality and solidarity in military service, so it does in paramilitary service. When Obasanjo appointed a retired army general, Haldu Hananiya, as head of Federal Road Safety Corps, he wore the corps livery to show that he is part of it.
To demonstrate how proper dressing symbolizes discipline, officers are even promoted instantly on the basis of how well they dress. What will Ali tell a senior officer found donning beret while eating or wearing No 2 customs uniform without tucking? How could you instil discipline when you are appearing in mufti, bearded like Mufti Menk, and expect others to look clean-shaven and appropriately dressed?
Regulation 31 of the subsidiary legislation of the Customs and Excise Preventive Service Regulations provides that “clothing and equipment shall be of such pattern and worn in such manner as the Board shall determine.”
On the illegality of his appointment, the law provides that the appointment of CG of Customs shall not be made except with the recommendation of the Minister of Finance, and among Deputy Comptroller Generals, Assistant Comptroller Generals and or Controllers, in the Nigerian Customs Service. When Ali was appointed, ministers were not even appointed. The Buhari administration, in its congenital procrastination, is also yet to appoint the Customs Board. Promotion is stagnated, decisions are taken arbitrarily, welfare and service motivation are at their lowest ebb. One need not be told that absence of motivation and welfare breed corruption.
Again, take a look at Section 3.11:1 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No 24 Vol. 89 of 25th March 2002, which provides that the choice of the comptroller-general of customs shall be by “appointment of a suitable Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs (General Duty)”.
But someone whose appointment was a clear violation of the law is the one cautioning the Senate on the illegality of asking him to wear uniform.
Hear the man in a letter to Senate on Thursday: “Regarding the wearing of uniform, I wish to advise that the Senate avails itself of the legal basis of its decision to compel me to wear uniform.
“I am similarly seeking legal advise (sic) on this issue so that both the Senate and I will operate within the proper legal framework.”
Which proper legal framework is this man talking about?