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Published On: Fri, Mar 17th, 2017

Hameed Ali Vs Senate: Who Wins The ‘Ego War’

Boss of Nigerian Custom Service, Col Hameed Ali inspecting guard of honour mounted by officers of Nigeria Custom Service on mufti

Boss of Nigerian Custom Service, Col Hameed Ali inspecting guard of honour mounted by officers of Nigeria Custom Service on mufti


LAGOS MARCH 17TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), must be on an ego trip. He is fighting an ego war with members of the Nigerian Senate. He sees them as a bunch of irritants who must be treated with utmost disdain. The retired army officer does not think he needs the Senate in the discharge of his duties. For him, they are interlopers whose meddlesomeness must be rebuffed and contained.
Ali is particularly incensed by the demand of the senate that he should wear the uniform of the NCS. The CG does not understand how this can be the business of the senate. He has since told the upper legislative chamber that he was not employed to wear uniform. He has argued that as a former army officer, who dressed in uniform throughout his years of service, he would not wear the uniform of another agency of government. This is gringo arrogance at its most banal.
Significantly, the senate has debunked Ali’s claims on uniform. They have drawn his attention to the fact that Halidu Hananiya, a retired major general of the Nigerian army, readily and happily wore the uniform of the Federal Road Safety Commission when he was its chief executive. Indeed, Ali’s disdainful displays are not lost on the senate. They are taking full notice of his lack of regard for the institution of the senate. And they are calling his bluff. That is why the senate is insisting that the CG must appear before it fully dressed in the uniform of the NCS. While Ali sees the order from the senate as a slight, the senate views his refusal to wear the uniform as an affront; a slap on the face of the upper chamber.
The senate has since bared its fangs. But Ali is responding with equal ferocity. Rather than write to the senate, as a sign of respect for the institution, he delegated one of his subordinates to do so on his behalf. He said he would not appear before the senate on the day they had chosen because the invitation clashed with the management meeting of the NCS. The man, certainly, does not reckon with the senate.
But the mindset that drives Ali’s action is a familiar one. It is in the mould of that of a typical member of the executive arm of government, who normally feels that the legislature is always in the habit of drawing the executive out for a drag-out fight.
No doubt, our polity is replete with a long history of executive-legislature brushes. The legislature is always driven by the feeling that members of the executive appear before it to derive legitimacy only to bolt away once they are cleared. The legislature has always been ill at ease with this set-up. Members of the executive, particularly ministers, are, more often than not, given to the feeling that the legislature is always trying to breathe down on them. That is why they do not like the legislature and its oversight functions. They feel that the oversight job is an avenue for the legislature to extort and make unnecessary demand of the executive. The result of all this is the antipathy that we witness from time to time between the executive and the legislature.
However, in the case of Hameed Ali and the Senate, the principal issue at stake is the uniform. Ali sees himself as a big man of sorts. He does not understand how a house made up of mostly “idle civilians” can dictate to him on the way he must dress to work. Ali’s refusal to subject himself to the dress code of the service may also have something to do with the manner of his appointment. As part of the messianic pretensions of his administration, President Buhari went out of his way to appoint an outsider, who has no training in customs and excise duties to head the NCS. As an outsider, who was appointed to superintend over the NCS, the assumption is that this Col. Ali is the best man for the job since no career customs officer was considered good enough for the rescue operation.
Given this background, Col. Ali was bound to see himself as a messiah in his own right.
News Express

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