By last week when Chief Eugene Nweke handed over to his successor, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) moved into another phase under its fourth President.
Founded in year 2000, when the association started from the two-room office of its founder, who became its pioneer president and later its pioneer chairman of Board of Trustees (BoT); Dr Boniface Aniebonam, the NAGAFF has indeed come a long way.
By last week’s symbolic handover, Mr Oluwole Adeyemi has made history by being NAGAFF’s first President from the south western part of the country.
After Dr. Aniebonam, came Mr Usman Sanusi, then Chief Nweke and now, Mr Adeyemi.
For lovers of history, Dr Aniebonam cannot but be synonymous with NAGAFF. History will forever remember him for fighting all odds (including frequent visitation to Police stations and subsequent humiliation and harassment) to ensure that the NAGAFF dream did not die.
The story of NAGAFF cannot be separated from the sojourn of its founder in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), where he served, first as Chairman of Customs Agents’ Relations Committee of the Apapa chapter of ANLCA, under the then- chairman; Mr Onyebuchi Katsina Uzor.
He was later to be elevated; albeit in the same position at the national level of ANLCA by the then- national president; Alhaji Sani Kamba.
It was from ANLCA that NAGAFF sprang out.
It can be argued that the birth of NAGAFF gave ‘its mother’; the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents enough reasons to buckle up. Were it not for NAGAFF and the challenges it gave, ANLCA would probably have been a dead association by now.
Those early years, when NAGAFF, through the robust propaganda and public relations instrumentality of its founder was enjoying soaring prominence, ANLCA was being erased from prominence. Expectedly therefore, when ANLCA regained its consciousness, it saw NAGAFF as a festering sore.
Contrary to what obtained prior to his emergence as NAGAFF President , Eugene Nweke went all out to seek the friendship of his counterpart at ANLCA; Prince Olayiwola Shittu.
We recall that when both leaders featured jointly on our Monday Interview page, a lot of divergent comments followed; while some haters in ANLCA felt that Shittu had committed abomination by dining with the association’s enemy, others in NAGAFF suspected the new President’s motive.
But, for six years Eugene Nweke positively used the infamous Machiavellian ‘end justifies the means’ to refocus NAGAFF. As at last week when he left office, NAGAFF had become as much respected as ANLCA by stakeholders, so much so that, whenever ANLCA was recognized, NAGAFF enjoys equal measure of compliments.
And while on a reminiscence of his tenure, he said: “So, there were challenges but with commitment, trusting God and believing in the vision one has cut out for himself pursuing it with zeal, commitment and the fear of God. That is why we are where we are. I can’t tell you there were no challenges, there were some of them but we are where we are today to the glory of God”.
To cap it all, he stressed that his legacy cannot be quantified in monetary terms, especially in the area of capacity building for members of NAGAFF.
And that brings us to the present, little is known about his successor; Mr. Oluwole Adeyemi. May be known in the aviation sector, but the maritime sector from where NAGAFF draws its strength will have to begin to know him.
The NAGAFF didn’t do well by treating the change of baton as if it was just the usual activities under the tree shed at the association’s headquarters. To make matters worse, the incoming President was not even in attendance!
The manner in which the handover was done, suggests two things. It is either NAGAFF is broke or there is a deliberate decision to diminish the achievements of Eugene Nweke.
By down-playing what ought to have been a big public relations and image boosting forum, NAGAFF may have advertently welcome the new President with a cold shoulder and sending forth its outgoing President with ingratitude.
Whichever it is, the new helmsman may soon find out that it isn’t easy to lead NAGAFF, especially at this time when there are so many issues in the maritime industry.