Controversy is trailing the ongoing 2019 recruitment exercise of the Nigeria Customs Service one week after its takeoff over the decision of the Comptroller General of the service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) to award a multi-million naira contract to an undisclosed consultant to handle part of the recruitment exercise.

Recall that the service had on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 opened its portal for online applications under which it plans to recruit a total of 3, 200 personnel comprising 800 to fill spaces in the support staff for Superintendent cadre category, while 2,400 spaces will go for Customs Inspector and Customs Assistant cadre in the general duty category, bringing to a total of 3,200 personnel.

Competent sources close to the service in Abuja at the weekend hinted that the CG enlisted the services of a recruitment consultant because he does not have ‘implicit confidence’ on the top hierarchy of the service to conduct the exercise to his satisfaction.

Meanwhile, National Public Relations Officer of the service, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, in a swift reaction, said there is no iota of truth in the report of the involvement of a consultant, saying the service has one of the best Information Communication Technology ICT platforms in the country.

According to the sources, the CG had since assumption of duty over three years ago not shown confidence on some top officers of the service, as he believes that many of them are corrupt and therefore cannot be trusted completely.

It was however gathered that the involvement of recruitment consultancy firm may not augur well for merit and federal character principle of the country, raising fears that some regions of the country may be favoured to the disadvantage of others.

A stakeholder, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, argued that over the years the service has carried out series of recruitment exercise successfully without the involvement consultants or external agencies.

He expressed reservations that the decision to engage a consultant may be for some ulterior motives, arguing that this decision is also an indictment on the officers of the service, who have organised similar exercise successfully over the years.  

The PRO, when contacted via the telephone said there was nothing like that, insisting that he is a member of the committee that worked out the details of the recruitment exercise, which was also put across to the public by the DCG Human Resource Development during a pressing briefing.

According to him, the service has its technical partners that provide the platform for the National Single Window and has over the years carried out duties that are more challenging than the recruitment exercise, which makes the engagement of a consultant unnecessary.

“What you are saying is completely strange to me. I advise you get the text of the briefing by the DCG Human Resources, where all the guidelines were explained and which we have followed through and through. As a journalist I know you know that the information is baseless”, DC Attah also said

Acting Deputy Comptroller General (DCG), Human Resources Development, Sanusi Umar, had during a media briefing at the headquarters of the service in Abuja Tuesday last week, said the recruitment exercise had been approved by the Federal Executive Council and would be in tandem with the requirements of the Federal Character Commission.

DCG Umar had assured that the service was actively engaged with the commission as part of efforts to ensure that the process earns a certificate of compliance on merit.

Further explaining the process, he said the recruitment will be conducted to fill 800 spaces in the support staff for Superintendent Cadre category, while the 2,400 space will go for Customs Inspector and Customs Assistant cadre in the general duty category.

 “We are determined to conduct an exercise that is credible, fair and transparent. We will deploy all machineries within our powers to ensure that the integrity of the exercise is not compromised.

“By 12:00am of Wednesday, we will open the portal for the recruitment of 3,200 officers and men to fill existing vacancies which will last for the next three weeks.

“Members of the public are therefore enjoined to beware of fraudsters and criminals who may be operating illegal sites and portals and collect money from unsuspecting applicants”, he said.