By Dera Nnadi

It is with heavy heart that I received the news of the death of DCG Rtd Umar Sanusi mni, fsi. A gentleman officer and an erudite Nigerian.

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My first encounter with the senior officer was in 2003 or so at the CGC conference in Calabar Cross River State, where, as an Assistant Comptroller of Customs, he presented a report as the APM Apapa Command.

It was not common then to present papers and reports in PowerPoint, but he did. This was not the only remarkable thing he did at the conference.

The then AC Sanusi was detailed in his report, which was a departure from what others presented.

He was factual and honest and admitted it where things were wrong in NCS operations at Apapa Command and highlighted them in writing during his presentation.

This was shocking to the entire audience as it was rare then for admit that his acts while discharging his duties were not optimal. Some attempt by the moderator to stop him was rebuffed by a lone voice.

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One man and indeed the Boss was that voice. The then CGC now Gbon Gwom Jos Da Elder Jacob Gyang Buba overruled everybody and urged him to continue and to even say more if he has facts. He gave him more time than the alloted 30 minutes. There was pin drop silence.

AC Sanusi earned a place in the Service after that encounter. He also earned my admiration as a young Deputy Superintendent of Customs.

Our path was to cross again when I was posted to Apapa prior to the commencement of the second phase of the NCS and NPA port reforms, which coincided in 2006. AC Sanusi was the APM and I was the PRO of the Command.

The NCS reforms included migration from basic ASYCUDA to ASYCUDA 2.0, the use of the precursor to PAAR called Risk Assessment Report RAR, the introduction of e- Payment regime and the introduction of Non Intrusive Cargo examination- Scanners all with Apapa Port as the pilot Command.

On the other hand and going on simultaneously was the port concession which saw NPA handing over to private sector owners of the port facilities.

The challenges then were enormous, but we survived all through DCG Sanusi’s diligence with the then Comptroller Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo. It was a milestone for me and indeed for the senior officer then AC Sanusi. I learnt a lot from him.

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Yet another remarkable encounter with DCG Sanusi, mni, fsi was at the NCS Headquarters when he was appointed ACG Headquarters.

I had gone to greet him and pay homage when he did the “unthinkable” at least in my little understanding of life then.

After taking my compliments, he offered me a seat and of course I refused to seat in his presence as an Asisistant Comptroller out of courtesy.

He said Nnadi, I have observed that we are not close anymore and I think this is an opportunity for me to adress it. I was shocked and said it wasn’t so.

What he said next shocked me. He said ” I know I offended you but I want to use this opportunity to apologise and request that you work closely with me. As ACG HQ I will need you around me since you are in SR&P”.

I responded that I did not know that he offended me being his junior who respect and admire him. He said never mind.

He offered me a gift, stepped out, shook my hands and gave me a hug.

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I left his office confused, overwhelmed with emotions and thereafter held in greater esteem and awe. His loss is a personal one to me.

Farewell DCG Umar Sanusi, mni, fsi. NCS and indeed Nigeria lost a gem.

Dera Nnadi, a Comptroller of Customs writes from Lagos

Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses.

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