The New ‘War’ At The Association Of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents 

 

This is not a particularly good time for the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA). Its members are currently sharply (and unfortunately) divided across tribal lines as to who should be the chairman of the association’s Board of Trustees (BoT). They are caught between Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha and Chief Henry Njoku.

The rivalry has been intensified following the emergence of Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike as the association’s National President. He defeated Mr Emenike Nwokeoji in a fiercely contested election, and since then the camp that lost out has been calling for a review of the leadership of the board.

Presently, some members of the association have approached a Federal High Court in Lagos to seek nullification the April 13, 2018 supposed election that produced Taiwo Mustapha as the Chairman of the association’s Board of Trustees. Instructively, the suit was instituted by Osita Madueme and Lawrence Uba.

To further compound the issues and taking advantage of the court case, the embattled Chairman of the BoT; Chief Henry Noku   on July 23, 2018, also wrote to the National President of the association; Tony Iju Nwabunike not to recognize the new contentious headship of the BoT by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha. Njoku cautioned that doing so would amount to taking over the function of the Federal High Court by the National President.

Painfully, all that is currently drawing ANLCA back started as soon as Prince Olayiwola finished his statutory two terms of eight years as the National President of the association.

Although, there may not be accurate records as to when it was actually founded, its current leaders and members quote 1954 as its birth date.There is however, no doubt about the fact that the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) is the oldest umbrella body for all licensed customs agents in Nigeria.

Dr Rafiu Oladipo, who is now known more as the president general of the Nigerian Football Supporters’ club is credited as being the first president of ANLCA, older generation members of the association also say that there was a an interregnum for some years before Alhaji Sani Kamba later stepped-in to become the national president of a new-look association at that time. 

Alhaji Kamba’s tenure was followed by that of Mr Peter Okocha, Aare Sanni Shittu, Alhaji Inua Mohammed and Chief Ernest Elochukwu as national presidents (in that order). 

Prince Olayiwola Shittu was the seventh national president of the association. He has now been succeeded by Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike as ANLCA’s eight national president.

Arguably, ANLCA has transformed from its pre-2010 image of an isolated and a ‘threatened’ association to a new brand that is the envy of all licensed customs agents, perhaps worthy of the confidence that its teaming members reposed in Prince Shittu when he in 2010, went seeking for their votes.

Certainly, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has transformed into a good example of how a freight forwarding body should be. It has changed from being just an assemblage of clearing and forwarding agents (as of old) into an internationally-recognised body of professionals, all these under the watch of its immediate National President; Prince Olayiwola Shittu, who has turned the fortunes of the oldest freight forwarding association round.

The journey from Dr Oladipo to Kamba to successive presidents saw ANLCA move from a group of untrained and unqualified practitioners to a body of certified and internationally recognised customs brokers.

The transformation that ANLCA went through didn’t come easy. It took thrust in the leadership of Prince Olayiwola Shittu, his competence and transparency, to rebrand ANLCA.

It is a surprise that the incumbent leadership is watching all these go down gradually. In case it does not know, the association which was bequeathed to the Tony Iju Nwabunike team is gradually losing it. The recent election into the Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) is a clear testimony of how the association is rated. 

Rather than allow an inconsequential matter as the headship of the board to tear it apart, the leadership of ANLCA, especially its National President; Iju Nwabunike should rise above partisanship and tribalism in the larger interest of the association.

In like manner, it is incumbent on the feuding factions in the board to think less of themselves. Unless there is more to it, what value is the membership or even headship of the board of ANLCA adding to their lives? The board has no direct relevance to the day-to-day running of the association. It is a pure ceremonial body!

What should be paramount in the mind of ANLCA members is moving the association up from where the immediate past President and his co-executives left it. Unknown to it, rival association(s) are already praying for ANLCA’s further fall, so that they can gain more prominence.

How can ANLCA forget so soon events prior to the 2010 emergence of the immediate past leadership of the association?

It was not until Chief Ernest Elochukwu came on board   as President that expectations became high that perhaps the association would begin its match towards regaining its lost glory. He was in charge for four years, after which he handed over Shittu.

Some people have argued that since the exit of Alhaji Kamba, the association has not been fortunate to have a purposeful, goal- driven and altruistic leadership, that is until Shittu came on board.

According to these people, successive leadership has always looked at the office as a means to their self-serving end and not as a means to a new lease of life for ANLCA. Others have also pontificated that the problems of the association stemmed from the loss of its previously unrivalled status as the only voice of teeming number of licensed customs agents. To these people, the emergence of NAGAFF and Council of Managing Directors, coupled with type of leadership which had been previously foisted upon ANLCA were the contributory factors to its long sojourn in irrelevance.

 As a maritime media firm, we can boldly say that the calibre of persons who currently occupy the office of the association’s Board of Trustees, is  perhaps the loudest  confirmation of the fact that ANLCA has really moved far above its projections; pre-2010.

Without necessarily sounding patronizing, we are encouraged by how good a brand ANLCA has become.

Yes, the secretariat is a befitting legacy, an indelible achievement, but Prince Shittu brought discipline, candour, honour, robust engagement and accountability into ANLCA. He dwelt less on tribes and tongues.

These are the legacies that Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike needs to sustain for the association to regain its status. 

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