N1tr revenue: Lack of funds stalls deployment of Customs’ $500m boats
The inability of the Nigeria Customs Service to make funds available to the Nigerian Navy for the installation of guns and other equipment on its two patrol boats meant for the Marine Commands has stalled the deployment the boats acquired more than two years ago at the cost of $500million (N182.5billion).
The service had generated a whopping N1trillion for the 2017 fiscal year, which is its highest revenue ever and N241.68billion higher than the projected N770.5billion for the 2017 fiscal year, out of which it gets seven per cent as its statutory funding.
The two patrol boats christened; ‘Customs Pride’ and ‘Group of Nine’ were acquired since 2015 for the Eastern and Western Marine Commands of the service are currently wasting away at the Marina Jetty in Lagos more than two years ago by the former Comptroller General, Abdullahi Dikko due to the failure of the service to put them into effective use.
It was however gathered that the current Comptroller General of the service, Col. Hameed Ali, as part of measures to ensure that the boats were put into effective use to curtail the increasing menace of smugglers across the nation’s creeks and other waterways imported some guns to be mounted on the boats.
Smugglers and other criminals operating on the nation’s creeks and inland waters, it was further gathered are currently having a field day since none of the two Marine Commands of the service has a single patrol boats with the attendant loss of revenue that would have accrued to the country.
Investigations show that the guns which were shipped through the Calabar Ports are still lying idle more than six months after they arrived at the ports.
Sources further disclosed that the service contracted the Nigerian Navy for a fee less than N5million to mount the guns on the boats to pave way for their deployment and commissioning, which has been stalled owing to the failure of the service to mobilise the Navy to commence the job.
Meanwhile, Customs Area Controller in charge of Western Marine Command, Comptroller Sarkin Kebbi, who confirmed the development in a telephone chat, said the service has contracted the Nigerian Navy for the mounting of the guns but has yet to release any mobilisation.
He also noted that the as soon as funds were available, the Navy would be mobilised to commence the job, assuring that as soon as that was done, the boats would be deployed and commissioned and put into effective use.
However, stakeholders have chided the Federal Government over what they described as its lack commitment to its major sources of revenue, wondering why an agency that generated more than N1trillion for the 2017 fiscal year be struggling to execute a contract of less than N5million.
They also cited the seeming reluctance of the government to fix the port access roads through which it nets several trillions of naira annually through the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and even Customs, among several others.