The problems associated with provision of adequate welfare facilities for officers and men have been a recurring issue in Nigeria Customs Service. In recent past, complaints from the rank and file has bothered on the inadequacy of befitting office and residential accommodation. Though this problem was noticeable in all Customs commands, nationwide, it is more acute in the border areas.
In addition to this, absence of an insurance scheme, comprehensive in nature and scope and commensurate with the grave dangers Customs Operatives are exposed to in the course of their duties have been a source of worry to officers and their dependents. Limited access to basic medical facilities, absence of recreational facilities and non-competitive take home pay are some of the other indices of a poor welfare package for officers.
Conscious of the overall effect of this situation on staff morale and productivity; management of the Nigeria Customs Service had decided to embark on a series of projects and schemes aimed at boosting staff welfare. Though most of the details are currently being finalized, the Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs in charge of Corporate Service and Economic Relations, Abubakar Malam, used the occasion of commissioning of one of the projects last week to unfold a broad outline of Customs Management’s welfare programmes. He explains the objective of Customs management’s welfare policies.
Officers who suffer permanent incapacitation or the families of those who die on active service are now entitled to an amount three times their annual basic salary;
Early retirees, that is, officers who withdraw their services before putting 10 years of service are entitled to 50% of their basic annual salary; while those who spend 10 years and above are entitled to 100%;
Family of all categories of officers is entitled to ₦80, 000 burial expenses;
Each Junior Officers is entitled to an annual medical /accident benefits of ₦50,000 while Senior Officers are entitled to ₦100,000.
Customs Management is also making steady progress in the area of Barracks accommodation. Last Week, a new 23 Unit one bedroom flat was commissioned in Abeokuta for the immediate use of officers and men of the Ogun Command, by the Comptroller-General of Customs. During an inspection of the facility, Comptroller Rasheed Taiwo urged Customs management to provide additional funding for provision of infrastructures like erosion control and electrification of the barracks.
Other Barracks projects completed and waiting commissioning are:
The 20 units one-bedroom apartments at Customs barracks, Airport Road, Abuja,
46 units one-bedroom apartments flats at mile 4 and Ebubu barracks, Port Harcourt Rivers State, and 23 units one-bedroom flats in Kano.
Similar projects are nearing completion at Banki Border Station, Borno State. Ilela in Sokoto State and Warri, Delta State. The Customs Training Colleges in Lagos and Kano are also to benefit from the projects as construction works for Auditorium and 63 room Hostels are in advanced stages of completion
To compliment these efforts, other schemes aimed at individual officers are being fine tuned to add value to the welfare programmes. These include the new Customs Cooperative and Thrift Society, established by the management, provision of motorcycle loans, and access to Housing loan up to the tune of ₦5 million through the instruments of the National Housing Fund (NHF).
In addition to the establishment of a full-fledged Customs Medical Unit which administers over 12 clinics nationwide, officers are now entitled to refunds of medical expense, while sponsorship for overseas treatment could also be granted when situation demands.
Existing Customs Nursery and Primary Schools in Idiroko, Kano and Kaduna are now to be fully acquired by the Service, while new ones will be established in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja.
The comptroller-General however stressed that provisions of these facilities and scheme are closely linked to the policy on posting, whose thrust is to move officers around whenever the situation demands it.