“ANLCA gives NAGAFF less than 10% of all the revenues generated at the airport”
Mr. Segun Musa is the pioneer of Murtala Mohammed International Airport Chapter Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF). He is currently the Vice Chairman, Western Zone NAGAFF. In this interview with Anozie Egole, he spoke extensively about his sojourn in NAGAFF and other issues.
“NAGAFF can pride herself as having the highest number of members as far as the airport is concerned”
What will you say were your achievements as Murtala Mohammed International Airport chapter chairman of NAGAFF?
My achievement were not that much, but first and foremost let me start with the fact that I came on board as a sole administrator and I inherited about 10 to 12 members. And unfortunately at that time, people hardly appreciate being identified with the association called NAGAFF and also the unfriendly attitude of the other sister association, ANLCA. Once they identify you as a member of NAGAFF, they will intimidate you, attack you and beat you and all that. So people were like if I am a NAGAFF member let it just be in me, I should be the only person that knows that I am a NAGAFF member. Just about three to five persons were able to openly say that they were members of NAGAFF, the rest hid their membership.
So that was the first thing I was able to tackle; I was able to engage ANLCA diplomatically and put off that threats so that the members can begin to have a sense of belonging and be able to associate freely without being intimidated by ANLCA. And after that a lot of people began to say that they will like to align themselves with that, some of them began to join NAGAFF. We also have to change the orientation; we have to make people believe that NAGAFF is a selfless organisation that will assist you without asking for anything in return. If you have any problem, they will help you.
At a stage it may interest you to know that when our members began to increase we designed an identity card then and we established a good working relationship with security agencies at the airport. That when there were arrests within the airport and both ANLCA and NAGAFF members were arrested once you get to the police station and you identify yourself as a member of NAGAFF, the police will ask you to go, but when you identify yourself as member of ANLCA they will put you inside the cell. So a lot of people began to say look, it’s like the police and other security agencies are giving more respect to NAGAFF than ANLCA. So a lot of people started joining NAGAFF.
And again there is this approach that always assist us; the approach of being your brother’s keeper. When you are in need, NAGAFF does not look at you as whether you’re a member of NAGAFF or not, they will go all the way to solve your problem for you; no matter what the problems are. We were also been able to organize the first of its kind, a two-day seminar in 2009 which involved all the stakeholders in the industry, it was organized under my leadership and it was a huge success. We have also been able to face all the threats and melt down all the threats and as we speak today, NAGAFF can pride herself as having the highest number of members as far as the airport is concerned. Again we have been able to put a structure in place even though the structure is probably the least of our achievement, but we were able to put international standard structure.
It is international standard based on the fact that we have an MoU with the airport authority that incase in the future the federal government decides to give us another place or a permanent place, we can collapse the old building and assemble it elsewhere. Unlike other people that are using brick, our own is international standard and we engage our members in trainings and seminars and all that, we have added value.
What were the challenges you had during your tenure there?
There were so many challenges and threats, part of them were assassination attempt, threat to live and so many of them. But to God be the glory, I was lucky and I have always been a grass root person. So it was easy for me to equip myself with most of those things and I was able to settle myself in between and while doing that, I was able to carry long with my members. And throughout my 12 years tenure I was never embarrassed or regretted being there or disgraced by my member or anybody.
As a non-Igbo, how were you able to cope going by the impression that NAGAFF is an Igbo-dominated association?
Interestingly all of us had that opinion abinitio, but when I joined I was able to remove that from the mindset of people because as a Yoruba man, I have been given such responsibility and also a free hand to operate. Because throughout my tenure, I was operating as independent chapter and most of the things that are coming up at the headquarter now were actually what I set in motion like the biometric ID cards, the data banks and all that. I had this free hand to operate and do what I wanted and I was able to do something. When I was giving the opportunity I was able to convince people that they shouldn’t look at the association as an Igbo association, this is an association that has given me the opportunity to showcase myself and they have also given me the free hand to operate. And as far as I am concerned that encouraged a lot of people. At the airport as we speak, we have more Yorubas than Igbos; we have more Yorubas and other ethnic groups than Igbos. I was able to convince a lot of people that it is a national association and for the fact that I was given the opportunity shows that it is a national association. And after that a lot of people started coming to join.
Now that you left office what is your next plan?
Presently I am the Vice President Logistics Western Zone; it is also a challenging office. My role is that of supervision over the chapters under my jurisdiction which is the western zone. I play supervisory role where I try as much as possible to assist chapters under me so that they will get it right. Also when there are internal crisis, I can come in and see how I can resolve it for them and also see how I can continue propelling the association to the next level. This is the supervisory role.
Having served as airport chairman, before your new position, what is the comparison like?
It will interest you to know that I am about to clock my 30 years working experience in this industry. And when I started in this industry, I started from the seaports, I spent a whole time in the seaports, I left the seaport in 2001; since 1989. So I am quite exposed to the activities within the seaport. Coming from the airport back to seaport is like coming back home, there is not much difference outside the fact that the ports have been concessioned, the port is smaller than it used to be those days and there are some little changes.
But my understanding is that the port is not as business-friendly as it is used to be those days, when we were there. And I was able to align myself with the realities on ground, so it is like going back home.
Back to the airport, how were you able to raise funds for that secretariat I learnt that there were supports from NCAA and some terminal operators?
We couldn’t get support from anywhere, one thing I used to tell my people is that I pride myself with the fact that I don’t go to meet any organization to give me financial assistance or beg for that. As an association we have to be able to catalogue and design our source of revenue.
Our source of revenue has always been our members’ contributions; there is contribution that our members do make on their imports and we generate revenue; although ANLCA takes the lion share of the revenue. ANLCA gives NAGAFF less than 10% of all the revenues generated at the airport it was within the range of 5% before I raised it up to 10%. I was able to create the platform for us to further negotiate. Before I left office my membership have got to a stage that we can negotiate for something better and we established the negotiation of NAGAFF 70% and ANLCA 30% and I am sure the negotiation is still on up till now, because presently we control traffic at the airport. The numbers of our membership have increased more than that of ANLCA. When we got the money was when we froze the account of the association and the contribution accumulated into volumes and at the end of the day, the money was released.
The leadership of ANLCA appealed that we should release the money so that it can be shared but unfortunately when we release the money, they ran away with the cheque. And an effort to get our own share from them it was just a peanut that was released to us and that peanut was what we used to start that structure. And after then, we started with little resources coming in, we continued building up to the level the structure is today.
The system of collecting money at the airport seems to be working better than what we have at the ports today with the POF. What do you have to say about that?
Interestingly, seaports generate more revenue than the airports. It may interest you to know that the volume of all the cargoes that come to the airport in one year comes into the seaport in a week or less than a week, so seaports generate more revenue. But unfortunately most of these revenues are being shared. In my own chapter during my tenure as a leader, I never encouraged sharing of revenue in my chapter. What I do is, I re-invest the revenue back into the association, I reinvest it on my members in terms of trainings, capacity building, structures, paying salaries, maintenance of the office amongst others. Not that I don’t actually give my executives allowances, but we limit what we take home because we are all business men and professionals. I never encouraged a situation where money comes in and it will be divided and shared and everybody goes home; I never encouraged that.
What I always did was that 10% will be shared while the remaining 90% will be used to service and continuously position the association and that was how I did it.