Kebbi Gov 2019: Who is Afraid of DCG Ibrahim Mohammed Mera?

By Mahmoud Sadiq Abubakar, Ph.D on July 6, 2018

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Current events in the politics of Kebbi State ahead of 2019 suggest that it will not be business as usual because of the ongoing intense political horse-trading in the two dominant political parties-the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Keen watchers believe that due to incumbency, the battle for the governorship ticket will be fiercer in the APC than in the PDP which lost the government house in the 2015 elections. 

Expectedly, political gladiators in the APC have kick-started the battle employing old-fashioned tactics such as crass blackmail, intimidation, character assassination, misinformation, etc. Political events in the country prove that performance and the integrity of candidates will define the outcome of elections next year. 

Specifically in Kebbi State, the people will, for once, decide who will lead them come 2019 by asking critical and probing questions about the antecedents of aspirants who seek their votes. The people will pointedly interrogate aspirants and candidates on their capacity to deliver. In other words, performance will be on the ballot.      

Non-performing and clueless governors seeking tenure extension will be made to tell the people how they or did not change the destinies of their people for good. Incumbency will take backstage for capacity to take centre-stage. Blackmail deployed in the media with the people’s patrimony will not work. Hate-driven attacks on perceived political rivals such as was unleashed last weekend in a Lagos-based newspaper on Ibrahim Mohammed Mera, Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs, now retired, amount to nothing.

It is easy to link the publication to persons close to the government house in the state who have shown too early in the race that the governor is indeed afraid of the likes of competent, capable, influential, accomplished and formidable aspirants like Ibrahim Mera in next governorship race in the State.    

For the avoidance of doubt, I am not an Ibrahim Mera apologist but I am also involved in the search for the development of Kebbi State because Yauri is the place of my birth. Our paths first crossed at a Multi-Dimensional Leadership Course in 2010 in Toronto, Canada and again, at a Change Leadership Course in London in 2011 both of which I attended as a Diaspora scholar. I was astonished by his depth of knowledge, intellect, affability and leadership skill. Above all, I was fascinated by his deep concern for the well being of the people of the State. 

Of course, I was very delighted to meet such a promising young personality of royal extraction from Argungu, a notable emirate in the Northern part of the country. We have not met again after that pleasant encounter but I was indeed glad that I met such an admirable personality. What I read about him in the publication is clearly at variance with what I eventually gathered from quarters which I think are credible.  

The insinuation that he voluntarily retired in frustration after rising to the enviable rank and position of Deputy Comptroller General, in my opinion, holds no water. This is because the man I met did not look as an officer who sees retirement from public office as the end of life. He has no reason therefore to go into hibernation because someday, every public officer must retire from public office. 

So far in my present experience of fruitful sojourn in foreign land, public officers are eager to leave public office to face their private eyes. It is anathema to retire voluntarily in Nigeria. Ibrahim Mera voluntarily retired when the ovation was loudest, an act which compels commendation and not condemnation as the shameless sponsors of the publication, in their vicious blackmail, sought to do. 

Let me confess that the publication, rather than provoke sour sentiment has re-awakened my interest in this man whom I see as the face of the new Kebbi State in the nearest future. In my search for credible details on him, I gathered that his enlistment into the Nigeria Customs Service on June 5, 1989 as a Superintendent of Customs was not accidental. 

He was once quoted sometime in 2005 by a now-rested newspaper, The STEWARDSHIP, as saying in an interview: “In everything I do, I see an opportunity to excel. Wherever I find myself, I always try to leave it better that I met it. Where there are no challenges, I create one because a smooth sea never makes a good mariner. Great men are made through great struggles”.

Palace historians in Argungu Emirate of Kebbi State where Ibrahim Mera holds the prestigious traditional title of Ciroman Kebbi (Crown Prince of Kebbi), believe that he is merely following in the familiar family tradition because his late father, the immediate past Emir of Argungu, Aihaji Mohammadu Mera, lived a life that did not see public service as a profession but as a way of life. He gave his all to public service because he saw it as a duty to give back in the spirit of give and take. No wonder he became a model and it is one of the signature lines that the Meras are remembered for across climes and times. 

In the customs service, aside from his excellent performance record which earned him a presidential commendation, the principles of integrity, hard work, sound discipline, decorum and demeanour, strict adherence to work ethics, rules and established professional conduct are the best element which many associate with Ibrahim Mera’s public service years especially in the Nigeria Customs Service where his peers and subordinates knew where he stood anytime across all the sensitive places he served as an intelligence officer, revenue collector, smuggling buster, trade facilitator, forensic expert and administrator.  He was frank to a fault as far as his job was concerned.

In 2005 when he was barely one year as a substantive Comptroller, Ibrahim Mera made big news as Kano/Jigawa Customs Area Controller when he led his men to the Sharada Industrial Area of Kano to smash a gang of smugglers of 253,000 bales of imported textiles with duty paid value of over N4 billion. He reportedly rebuffed a bribe of over N1 billion which the smugglers offered him as bribe. It is code-named the SHARADA SMASH in the Nigerian customs history.

The operation was the largest single haul of textile in the 120 years of the customs so it instantly earned him a commendation by the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who saw Ibrahim Mera as the poster boy of his highly-hyped anti-corruption crusade. It was also indeed one of the outstanding advertisements of his public service reforms and the achievements of the Administration.

Ibrahim Mera’s exploits at the Kano/Jigawa Customs Command soon began to attract instant attention because he met a comatose command that could not meet revenue target for 10 years and while meeting revenue target was a mirage. Three months of his arrival changed all that. His record there was the best ever. 

Mera set out to make history again. He met high-scale staff absenteeism, weak management feeding on abysmal legal system, delays, policy inconsistency, delays and non-compliance with approved clearing procedures. 

Two months of his deployment to Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML) which had just been carved out of Tin Can Island Port, saw the smashing of 113 foul deals at the new command. Sixty-Two (62) fake documents of “machine outside” (i.e. forged documents to clear imported consignments) were detected including 14 cases of bank receipts forgery, 37 fake vehicle papers and 11 fake clearance papers for containers. His sustained war of aggression against the racketeers at PTML also attracted instant media searchlight with screaming headlines. 

At the Tin Can Island Port where he was later deployed after his accomplished mission at PTML, he raised the monthly revenue collection from N3.8billion to N11billion in four months of his arrival. 

A House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise which was led by Hon. Yakubu Dogara (now Speaker) which had earlier criticised the command’s infrastructure at the time lbrahim Mera resumed as Customs Area Comptroller came back two months after to describe it as the best in the service

Mera’s strength, according to close watchers, is in his quietness for which he detests noise making. He has a sharp mind that is easily traceable to his long years as an intelligence officer, a trait that has obviously helped him to detect frauds, smash syndicates and expose criminalities.

Hear him: “I do not make noise. People easily try to take advantage of my quietness because they don’t really know me. I do not blame them. I study people and use my experience to penetrate them, discover them and move in to neutralize them. It is not possible for anybody to approach me with financial inducement because I have not placed myself in such a position. I am always careful not to place myself in a vulnerable position for blackmail. Even if you are my friend, I will insist you do the right thing. If you don’t, I will use you as an example”, he said in another interview.

His grasp of his job as an intelligence officer particularly stood out when he became the Comptroller in charge of Customs Intelligence Unit in Abuja, an office he held at two different times. His membership, association and training with leading global organizations such as the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts, the Law Enforcement Intelligence Union, East West Institute and the Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers in United Kingdom has been very handy. It is to his credit that experts from such agencies were invited to the country to train and certificate customs officers in the key elements of diligent intelligence and investigation.

As Comptroller in charge of Investigation and Inspection, he streamlined its operation with the activities of the Legal Department to create the capacity for seamless investigation and prosecution of customs court cases. He also created a forensic investigation unit and opened a forensic laboratory with fruitful discussions with the Canadian authorities. This is in line with the global trend of data retrieval from cell phones.

It is little wonder that when he became an Assistant Comptroller General on June 6, 2011-seven years after serving as Comptroller-he was retained in the Inspection and Investigation Directorate where he created ingenious system of preventing, detecting and preventing fraud and fraudulent practice in the service.

As Deputy Comptroller General of Customs in charge of the Human Resource Department, he created a tidy, merit-based staff promotion procedure, initiated and actualized MOUs with private sector firms to procure 10,000 owner-occupier customs staff houses and assisted 10,000 customs personnel to own private cars for enhanced productivity. He also created a comprehensive human resource automation to reduce human contact with personnel records in order to protect old personnel records electronically and allow easy access to records on web-based platforms. 

Certainly, his exemplary accomplishments and stewardship to his fatherland earned him the prestigious National Honours Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger, OON, conferred on him on September 29th, 2014 by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR. This is in addition to several other commendations obtained within and outside the customs. Many now see him as a man destined for a higher office and responsibilities come 2019 which, from all indications, is the Kebbi State Government House. Why not?  

 

Dr. Mahmud Sadiq Abubakar, a Diaspora scholar, sent this piece from the United Kingdom.

 

Source Soundbite News

Posted on July, 6 2018

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