“We are going to participate in the CRFFN election but our participation might not be that we are standing for election”
Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila is the National Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA). Speaking with Shipping Position Daily’s Assistant Editor; Dapo Olawuni at the national secretariat last week, Mukaila touched on issues bothering on the crisis rocking the Board of Trustees (BOT) of ANLCA and what the constitution says on the matter. He also explained why the association has not taken a definite position on the CRFFN elections.
“People are playing some dirty politics, they believe that hanging on to the BOT issue would give them latitude and leverage to launch back their relevance”
Is there a crisis between the BOT and the National Executive? We heard that BOT members were banned from National Secretariat
The issue is very simple, there is a lot of rumor and hearsay going on, today I am the National Secretary, if there is going to be a meeting of such, I should be aware of it. Just like you mentioned it that they were not allowed to have their meeting, I have also been hearing it, and nobody is disturbing anybody from holding meetings, we all agreed to associate but there are procedures. Last two weeks, the western zone had a meeting and all the BOT came in there and partook in the meeting, so I don’t know why there is rumour now that the same people that walk in here freely to join a meeting that is not even their own would now be stopped, how? It is about politics, people are playing some dirty politics, but it is allowed, this is an association thing, there are camps and groupings. At Enugu during our elections, some block of camps, different interest groups all have candidates, but one way or the other, the election has come and gone, some people lost, so now, everybody is trying to realign, they are looking for a base and they believe that hanging on to the BOT issue would give them latitude and leverage to launch back their relevance, there is no problem about that. They are using every means to be relevant in a group formation. If I tell you that I am not aware of the rumours flying everywhere, then I will be lying, I am aware of a lot of acrimony, people saying that they are coming to hold meeting at the secretariat and nobody can stop them, as if anybody is stopping anybody; the secretary of the board has not even communicated with me.
Were the BOT members supposed to be at the Western Zone meeting that you mentioned?
They were not supposed to be at that meeting, it was a Western Zonal meeting, but the national BOT decided to gatecrash into the meeting, we cannot send them away because they are members of ANLCA, they must have their reasons for not coming to a national meeting to declare themselves, but they came to a western zone meeting. If I were them, after they have taken a position as the BOT, they should call for a meeting. Today, we heard that Henry Njoku is visiting Owerri and solving a problem and yet the board wants to meet. How would you react to reports that ANLCA is being militarized?
Something happened, a guy was arrested here with a knife, police arrested the guy and took him to the station, at that point we all came out to see what was going on at our gates, they did not allow the guy to make any statements, and they just said they are taking him away. We had to call the police because we don’t know what is going on, we informed them to come over and they came, after some time, we observed the area is cool and calm so we asked them to go. What is the position of the NECOM on the BOT crisis?
The board is having issues and this is in the public domain, it is over the purported removal of their chairman. If you want me to speak to you on that, the position of this NECOM (National Executive Committee) even though I am not the Publicity Secretary, our position is that we are not against anybody, provided they have done it through a democratic procedure, ANLCA is one of those few associations that does their elections as at when due, so if the board because of administrative convenience decided to have a new chairman as somebody that directs their meetings, it is all well and good. But ANLCA constitution does not recognize anybody as BOT Chairman, the constitution only recognize nine BOT members, but for administrative convenience, I believe that within themselves, they chose somebody to preside over their meetings, and also at their own convenience, they set their rules, I have been told that it is based on two years rotation, if they have agreed on the two years rotation, ANLCA is not aware of it, what we are aware of is that nine people have been elected and they are going to be together for six years. It is written clearly in section 13 that “the association shall establish a board of trustees referred to as ‘The Board’ which shall be incorporated on the provisions of CAMA, it shall become a corporate body, shall have perpetual succession and a common seal. A person shall be elected as a trustee of the association at a general meeting, whereupon the CAC shall cause not more than nine members to be registered as board of trustees. Their function is to administer the association for one month in case there is election impossibility, their tenure shall be six years. On the removal of the board, if anybody does anything contrary to the ANLCA constitution, a notice shall state the offence…” So there is nowhere you can find it in our constitution that anybody is referred to as Secretary of board or Chairman of Board. However unlike them, the constitution clearly states out the NECOM, the President, the Vice, the Zone, the National Secretary, all clearly stated. So if for their administrative convenience, they have asked somebody not to preside on their meeting again, the position of NECOM is that they should go and resolve their issues, when they were agreeing on their board chairmanship, we were not there, it was a gentleman agreement among the nine of them, so if they want to change the way they hold their meetings, they should decide among themselves. Now that Henry Njoku has refused to step down, would this not send wrong signals that ANLCA is in post-election crisis?
There is no crisis in ANLCA, I believe that most of them have their personal interest within the board, because in a normal setting, it should have just been nine people sitting and one presiding over the meeting, we have told them that whatever their differences might be, ANLCA remains supreme. Lock yourselves in a room and resolve it, somebody has been your chairman for six years, he re-contested, he was made a member, you appointed him again, it is not an elected chairmanship position, if not you would have known who are the people contesting for chairman, and that person would have known that his tenure is six years, you cannot come and tell Tony Nwabunike now that he should rotate his presidency because he contested to be president, but these guys contested to be board members and not chairman or secretary. Our position is for them to go and resolve their differences. We have given them that rope and we are taking the initiative away from them now, I can tell you clearly that the NECOM has set up a meeting with them tomorrow to say that now that you guys cannot resolve your problems, come and put it on the table and let’s hear from you, everybody is guided and bound by the ANLCA constitution. Maybe, the board should be rotating or decide who would be chairman per meeting and who would take the minutes, every meeting should have a different chairman. The bottom line is that there are few of them, who are ready to work, and there are some that are just there to cause trouble, this is my take. What is the position of ANLCA on the CRFFN elections?
The position of ANLCA is that, we have gone through the elections guidelines, ANLCA instituted a court case against the CRFFN, and the guideline states clearly that any association that has taken CRFFN to court should not participate and that anybody that is holding elected positions in any association should not participate, what this simply means that because we took them to court, anybody from ANLCA should not participate. Secondly, even if they wave that, once you are elected in any position, you should not participate, no national or chapter chairmen should participate, so tell me, who are the leaders of the association? The guideline was clearly crafted to edge out ANLCA members. We are still looking at the options, CRFFN has come to stay, it is a government initiative and we need to abide by the rule of the land, but then, if you feel that your right is being infringed upon, there are so many opportunities open. So, on the issue of CRFFN, we are still looking at the options before ANLCA because I am privileged to have seen the guideline and it was so crafted to show that clearly, ANLCA is the target, we are still studying and putting all options on the table, we don’t have a position on it yet. ANLCA would take a definite position by Tuesday next week.
But ANLCA will definitely partake in the CRFFN elections?
We want to obey the law of the land, the CRFFN is a government institution, it is an Act of Parliament, it is the law, but we are not happy with the guideline and we would take our position, we are going to participate in the CRFFN election, but our participation might not be that we are standing for election.