Baring any unforeseen circumstances, by the time you are reading this piece, elections into the various chapters in the western zone of the association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents would either have held or would be about 24 hours away.
The elections is remarkable for ANLCA in that on at least two occasions when attempts had been made to conduct the elections, dangerous weapons were used on opponents at election venues. These attacks led to severe injuries that were sustained by some members of the association.
Before the present association electoral committee (ASECO) was constituted, the body had been led by highly – respected former national president of the association, Alhaji Inua Mohammed who had to resign owing to the determination of entrenched interests to frustrate his efforts
The presence of OPC at the venue of the last elections and the level of violence were some of the unofficial reasons that were adduced for the postponement. This is in spite of the fact that was obvious that the entrenched interests’ forces were bent on enthroning their puppets and circumventing popular wish.
It is disheartening that despite the water-tight arrangement, the election could not hold at a highly fortified venue such as the Command Guest House (a military premises) in Apapa, simply because some ‘powerful’ forces within the Western axis of the association pressed buttons and reportedly got the ears of the Army authourities to stop the use of the guest house for a purpose which the authourities had been adequately informed and for which permission had been granted.
Apart form this, another set of senior members of the association; also from the West had placed a ‘caveat emptor’ on the whole exercise via a paid advertorial in a national newspaper in which they claimed that there exist a court order forbidding the election.
In addition to these, there was a high presence of hired members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) who stayed close by waiting to unleash terror on their paymaster’s supposed enemies.
It is obvious that certain forces are bent on frustrating all efforts to fully democratize the western zone of the association, but we have noticed the enthusiasm of the electoral committee which is headed by Prince Olayiwola Shittu and we can only appeal to all members of ANLCA not to let this election to go in the way of the ones before it.
The question is: Why on earth will some people frustrate genuine attempts to democratize like other chapters and the answer is: selfish interests. Why should a group of people stand as stumbling block in the match by an association to regain its lost glory; the answer again is selfish interests.
The Western Zone of the association which used to be the rallying point has gradually lost that enviable position as tribal warlords reach for the soul of the chapters while stakeholders, especially young and up- coming members of the association watch helplessly.
While commending the efforts of Prince Shittu and members of the association electoral committee for their commitment, we urge that they should remain focused and be more resolute to see the process through. History may not be fair to them if the elections are not conducted, but history will be harsh on current leaders and political gladiators in ANLCA if this second efforts fail.
From what we have seen, the process is as transparent and all-inclusive as possible. What is left is for the players to play by the rules.
If this effort fails, ANLCA may never regain its lost glory. It has already lost more than enough of its relevance to rival associations which sprang up from it.
The association still remains the oldest umbrella body for licensed customs agents in Nigeria. Dr Rafiu Oladipo (presently of the Nigerian Football Supporters’ Club) remains the first ‘documented’ president of the association.
As old as ANLCA is, it has only managed to have five national presidents since the exit of Oladipo who was succeeded by Alhaji Sani Kamba. Alhaji Kamba’s tenure was followed by that of Mr Peter Okocha, Aare Sani Shittu, Alhaji Inua Mohammed and Chief Ernest Elochukwu.
Unless, this week’s elections hold successfully, it may be difficult to elect zonal executives and may become almost impossible to proceed from there to elect a new set of national executives. And if these happen, the reality is that the board of trustees will continue to lead the association against the wish of several members of who may not necessarily be in a position to ensure that this all-important election holds.
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