Before we forget the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents 

The current seemingly intractable crises which have engulfed the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) 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.

It is unwritten that positions must rotate between tribes, and that positions must be shared between the two ethnic nationalities that dominate the association, that is the Yorubas and the Igbos.

Even though there is no accurate record as to when it was actually founded, its current leaders and members quote 1954 as its birth date.

There is also 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.

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 has now been succeeded by Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike as ANLCA’s eight national president.

 And 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.

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

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.

No doubt, 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, all these under the watch of its immediate National President; Prince Olayiwola Shittu.

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 is gradually losing it.

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 had 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.

Sadly, the crisis is festering because of the vested interests of the leaders of ANLCA, especially its past Presidents. If they are not party to the crises, why the quiet, it is shocking and suspicious that none have them has come out to either condemn the gladiators or called for a peace meeting.

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.

If the thinking is to wait until the incumbent President wins or loses the quest for a seat in the House of Representatives, by this week, a clear picture will emerge. But, then it may be too late!