Nigeria’s outgoing President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday in Abuja commissioned the new headquarters of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) built at the cost of N19.6 billion.
The building, known as Customs House, is located in the Maitama area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The building has a 12-floor tower with five floors on both wings of the tower.
The project was conceived in 2002 to provide a comfortable and conducive working environment for staff and authorised visitors to the building.
While delivering his keynote address at the event, the President said that the policies taken by his administration were deliberately made for the development of the country.
Buhari said that such policies became legacy programmes because they later became the delight of the people and the country.
He said the ban on the importation of foreign rice, for instance, was one such policy.
“I deliberately closed the borders. I said it is either you eat what you grow or you grow what you eat and later Nigerians appreciated it,” he said.
On corruption, Buhari said he had nothing to hide.
He said, “Those who are following Nigerian leaders to condemn them for misappropriation and misbehaviour will have a problem with me.”
The outgoing President emphasised the need to maintain cordial relationship with neighbouring African countries.
“When I became the President, my first visit was to Niger, Chad and Cameroon because if you do not secure their confidence, you will be in trouble,” he said.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the new customs headquarters was a symbol of the present government’s commitment to effective service delivery.
She said the Customs Board under her leadership prioritised staff welfare, ensured regular promotion of personnel and training.
She thanked President Buhari for signing the Nigeria Customs Act 2022, saying it would go a long way in enabling the service to meet up with international best practices.
Earlier, Comptroller of Customs, Hameed Ali, said he ensured the building was completed to create a conducive environment for personnel to effective perform their jobs.
“When I assumed office in 2015, I was resolute on implementing the three Rs – reform, restructure and raise the revenue profile of the service. In view of this, I was not in doubt that a conducive environment is important and that is why I ensured the completion of the new corporate headquarters,” he said.
Ali said the building was technologically friendly with the necessary facilities to monitor activities at the different borders and commands across the country.
Ali said the building, which sits on approximately 25,000 square meters, was designed and constructed by indigenous firms.
He said although there were challenges of variations in the course of the project, the service was proud to erect one of the most cost-effective edifices in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.