ANLCA’s one year of Tony Nwabunike’s ineffective leadership 

As leading maritime media organisation, we have used all our platforms to highlight the challenges that the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) is facing. This is the second time this year that our Editorial will be devoted to the crisis in the association.

Before we forget, it may be worthwhile to recall that the crises did not start today; in fact, it didn’t start during the eight years tenure of the immediate past National President of the association; Prince Olayiwola Shittu.

The current face-off which has seen various factions go in and out of courts and in and out of police cells is embedded in the unwritten part of the association’s constitution.

For years, perhaps decades, it has been accepted as  unwritten part of the association’s constitution that positions must rotate between tribes, and as such the positions must be shared between the two ethnic nationalities that dominate the association, that is the Yorubas and the Igbos.

Safe for the testy period after the exit of its former President Alhaji Sani Kamba, when there was battle for the soul of the association by the Board of Trustees (BOT) and some powerful individuals, ANLCA has never found itself in this kind of deep-rooted imbroglio. 

It is so deep that more than one year after it was inaugurated, the Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike-led executive council has been ineffective. 

In its history, ANLCA has at different times had Dr Rafiu Oladipo who is credited as being the first president of ANLCA. Older generation members of the association also say that there was an interregnum of 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 is officially, the seventh national president of the association. He was succeeded by Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike as ANLCA’s eight national president.

 It is a fact that since Tony Nwabunike took over, there has been no love lost among the leaders of the association, from chapters to zone and to the national executive, and most disturbingly the BoT.

Initially, it started as a mere issue within the association’s Board of Trustees (BoT),  it was simply between two combatants for the board’s headship; that, is Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha and Chief Henry Njoku.

Painfully, the face-off started immediately Prince Olayiwola finished his statutory two terms of eight years as the National President of the association.

No doubt, under Shittu, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents was transformed into a good example of how a freight forwarding body should be. It changed from being just an assemblage of clearing and forwarding agents (as of old), into an internationally-recognised body of professionals.

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

It is a surprise that the incumbent leadership is watching these achievements nosedive gradually. In case it does not know, the association which was bequeathed to the Tony Iju Nwabunike-led executives has lost the respect of stakeholders in the nation’s maritime and allied sector.

We hope the gladiators realise that the doors that were widely opened for ANLCA during the immediate past leadership of the association are gradually been shut. 

Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike has not (as the National President of ANLCA) led his team on a visit to any chief executive of relevant government agency. None even knows him in that capacity.

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!

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 struggled to hold he association together for four years, after which he handed over to Shittu.

We dare say that, until the emergence of Prince Olayiwola,  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.

Without necessarily sounding patronizing, we are encouraged by the good ‘ANLCA brand’ that was handed over to Nwabunike last year.

Apart from the befitting secretariat that was handed over, Prince Shittu also handed-over attributes, such as:  discipline, candour, honour, robust engagement and accountability. He dwelt less on tribes.

These are the legacies that Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike has had no respect for in the last one year since he became President.

Just as we pleaded in our previous Editorial on the crises, we want to call out and appeal to Prince Olayiwola Shittu, Sir Ernest Elochukwu, Aare Sani Shitu, among others to lead the match towards peace for ANLCA. If they fail to do this, it could only mean that they are party to it. And if they are, then the part to reconciliation is very far for ANLCA.

We are aware that the opportunity for arbitration has been opened; this can only work if the parties believe in it. Arbitration only comes in when ego of gladiators refuse to bow for peace to reign.

Sadly, when the battle is over, the grounds that have been lost, the respect and honour that have eluded the group may require another leadership to regain.