Dikko Abdullahi: Exit of a colossus

I cherish seeing people leave office in peace than in pieces which seem to characterize most public officers in Nigeria. People are appointed or elected into different positions of responsibility and they play their roles on the basis of many circumstances among which are the environment to function, the character of supervisory authorities, the capacity of the individual actors among many others.
Many at times people are appointed and or elected to positions and at the long run the story turns bitter. Again many reasons are responsible for that but the important issue is that the system that Nigeria has run over a long period of time has been infested with tragicomic failures and problems arising from the character of the state, its structures and the social formation.
Very many have put in their best but were consumed by the failures of either the structures and institutions or those they work with. Conversely a few others have seen through the turmoil of the bedeviled system and came out with resounding reformations that have changed the ways of doing things and propelled the institutions to greater heights. I am of the view that those who achieved such a feat were not necessarily extra human but rather a mixture of hard work, luck and perseverance. Incidentally the motto of our college in Kaduna is “Success through perseverance.”
This is the time to celebrate Dikko Abdullahi, who on Wednesday the 18th of August gracefully pulled out of the services of the Nigerian Customs, an institution he has served for more than two decades and led for more than half a decade. I doubt if in recent times there was any Comptroller General that has served this long.
The ecstasy isn’t even about the length of service but the catalogue of achievements by way of transformation that the Service has undergone and achieved in the last six years. I am certain that the breakthrough in the area of revenue generation and blockage of those leakages that denied the government and people huge resources will go down in history as a lasting legacy whose impact has increased the inflow of cash to the Nigerian government.
Someone told me on authority mid 2014 that the bulk of the resources that government was using to pay salaries and meet its obligations were those collected by the Customs Service and not the oil sector which we all saw as the mainstay of the national economy. The documents are there for all to see and verify no matter how ill anybody may feel about the reality.
Dikko has excelled in not just revenue drive but importantly the projection of staff welfare to the fore which obviously has contributed tremendously in boosting the morale of officers and men and the incidences of theft and corruption amongst the rank and file thus minimized than ever before.
I think if leaders in public offices would make staff welfare a priority, we will succeed in taming the tide of endemic corruption. People are likely to work and depend on their legitimate earnings and by implication retaining intact their integrity than this culture of grab that has dragged the nation in the mud for a while.
The changes brought to Nigerian ports management in the area of Customs administration in the last few years has rekindled the hopes of importers and thus raised the level of income previously gotten by neighbouring countries. Equally is the management of imports, which previously suffered theft, vandalization among several other problems that made importation through the Nigerian ports unattractive.
I think Dikko has left the Customs Service a reformed institution, better than he met it whose capacity to do well had dominated national economic and social discourse. Today, I dear say with no fear of contradiction that the most that is required for the incoming CG is to keep the momentum and possibly proceed in progression until Nigeria Customs Service is ranked amongst the best in the world.
I saw the Customs Staff College in Gwagwalada. It is one of the best staff colleges in the country. I have always known Prisons Staff College in Kaduna, Immigration in Kano, apart from that of Police in Jos and the Military in Jaji. Nigeria Customs Service had one only in the last four or five years. That initiative which is a reality I understand serves as a regional center and for all those who care to know should try a visit to Gwagwalada to see the imposing the edifices on ground and the quality capacity building going on.
I am not out to catalogue the achievements of this gentleman but what will remain a reality in the times coming is that the Customs Service in Nigeria has had a focused leadership and an administration at a time when most of our national institutions were decayed and in dilapidation due to poor leadership.
There are lessons to learn from such great people whose thoughts are diametrically opposed to the dominant in the society at a time of great national challenges and crises. There is the need to unveil and possibly share experiences with those in service and intending or will be leaders for the good of the country. Our institutions are in comatose and require innovations to move forward. Dikko was an example in quality leadership and practical change in an institution that was in serious stress before his ascendency.
The time to celebrate life is when it is accomplished. I am of the strong view that Dikko Anbdullahi came, saw and transformed the service of his choice. A high flyer that reached the peak of the profession in good time served a long tenure and left when the ovation was loud. That is the way to leave.
In Nigeria, officials have to be forced out. Whatever anybody may say, the reasons given by Dikko for leaving are germane and in the interest of the service he has transformed. Those who are his colleagues and juniors must rise to realize their full potentials. I agree that the time to go is when one is convinced that he or she has put in his or her best. I share the view that DIkko has and the time to retire is now.
I congratulate and celebrate with my friend and classmate for a successful life of service. No wonder Dikko looked older than his age from the time he became the CG till Wednesday this week. I believe and hope his physique will be resuscitated soon.
Congratulations Dikko and may the lessons of service that is purposeful water the seeds of change which Nigerians desperately desire and work for.


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