Alright guys, the verdict is out:
Nigerians really don't care if Customs Comptroller General, Hameed Ali, dons the agency's uniform or not.
Most say he shouldn't spot a uniform.
Ali is being compelled by the Senate to wear the uniform of the agency he heads.
Appointed as Nigeria's Customs Comptroller General by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 27 2015, Ali is yet to be caught wearing the Customs uniform.
In his defence, the stern looking and tough talking boss of one of Nigeria's biggest revenue earning agencies, says since he is a retired army colonel, he has no business spotting the uniform of another agency.
The Senate has been miffed by this stance.
Senators Dino Melaye and Solomon Adeola have been most vocal in asking Ali to wear the Customs uniform.
The Senate has gone as far as asking Ali to resign if he can't wear the uniform.
"If retired Colonel Ali cannot respect the Customs service or he's ashamed of wearing its uniform and rank of his position while appearing before peoples’ representatives, then he should honourably resign," the Senate said in a statement signed by Adeola last weekend.
The Senate further put forward its case in the following paragraphs:
"Military and paramilitary uniforms inclusive of ranks are part of the symbol of legitimate authority conferred on the wearer to carry out certain duties on behalf of the government.
"Except in covert operations, an officer in these organizations operating without uniform could be taken to be performing illegal duty or worse, be taken as not representing the institution at all.
"And as stated on the floor of the Senate in plenary, the Comptroller General is a rank that can only be worn on uniform and not on mufti".
Ali has been summoned to appear before the Senate in his uniform, today, Wednesday, March 15, 2017.
“The Senate will take a resolution and an agency of government will have the temerity, will have the guts and strength to blatantly disregard the Nigerian Senate. It is a very dark day for democracy,” Melaye fumed during one heated session on the subject of Ali's uniform.
“I'm a member of the customs committee, I want to educate some of us today. The position of CGC is rank. I asked him (Ali) in the committee why he is not wearing uniform rank and he said ‘uniformed men don't wear uniform twice’.
“I reminded him that he retired as a colonel and General Ananiah retired as a General and was appointed as the corps marshal of the FRSC, who wore proudly the uniform of the Road Safety".
In his response, Ali dared the Senate and said he was not appointed to wear the uniform of Customs but to get the job done.
“Does uniform work or the person behind the uniform? Am I doing my job or not? I think that should be what should worry the National Assembly,” Ali said.
Here's the thing--the constitution says Ali should wear the Customs uniform.
The 2nd schedule in Section 38, Regulation 13 of the Customs and Excise Service Regulations (1963) says the boss of Customs, like every other officer in the agency, should spot the uniform.
President of the Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL), Abdul Mahmud Esq, says the subject shouldn't be one for debate.
According to Mahmud, "Please tell CGS Ali to read Regulation 31 of Customs & Excise (Preventive) Service Regulations, 1963. He can't appear in civvies at work.
"Regulation 31 reads: 'Clothing and equipment shall be of such pattern and worn in such manner as the Board shall determine'. Ali is a law breaker".
On March 12, 2017, this writer carried out a Twitter poll with the following question: 'Should Customs boss, Hameed Ali, be forced to wear the agency's uniform by the Senate?'
The options were:
A) Yes, he should wear the uniform.
B) No, it doesn't matter if he wears the uniform or not.
C) I really don't care, to be honest.
D) Does it affect garri price?
Out of the 1,015 Twitter respondents for this poll, 20 percent said Ali should wear the uniform, 46 percent said it doesn't matter whether Ali wears the uniform or not, 11 percent said they don't really care about the uniform subject; while 23 percent wondered whether the uniform debate will affect their financial fortunes or lower soaring commodity prices.
Voting in this poll closes tomorrow.
As the debate over Customs uniform rages on, Ali told the Senate he'll be seeking legal advice.
“Regarding the wearing of uniform, I wish to advice that the senate avails itself of the legal basis of its decision to compel me to wear uniform. I am similarly taking legal advice on this issue so that both the senate and I will operate within the proper legal framework,” Ali said.
The Customs Comptroller General is billed to appear before the Senate at the time of filing this.
Not since the Osun school uniform debacle, have Nigerians being treated to a debate over uniform as this one.
What are your thoughts on the subject?
About Article Author