Nigerian Customs Service: Plus Ça Change?

The Nigerian Customs Service (“NCS”), together with the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the now unbundled Nigerian National Petroleum Company, are arguably the most important state controlled parastatals in Nigeria. In 2015, the NCS generated NGN 905 Billion in revenue, an amount that dwarfs the combined revenues generated by other countries in the Economic Community of West African States.  The organisation employs in excess of 12,000 employees, across all 36 states in the country and is a key stakeholder in the fight against Boko Haram and the illicit drugs trade. In addition, for many decades, it has also been well known for being institutionally corrupt. In many respects it is a barometer for measuring the economic health of Nigeria and in particular the progress of President Buhari’s pre-election promise to eradicate corruption as a cause of economic dysfunctionality and social inequality. Its importance cannot be overstated in such an import dependent economy where the GDP per capita is a mere US$ 2,758[1] and GDP growth is forecasted to be only 2.3% in 2016[2], far lower than the 6-7% GDP growth that is required.

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