Prince Ozoh Chukwura is a chieftain of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents. He is also the Vice Chairman of one of the two Board of Trustees of the embattled association. In this interview with Oluyinka Onigbinde, he speaks of the more-than-four-years crises that have crippled the association.
Why do you think your association’s AGM was put off?
We were not envisaging this Naira designing problems and the NECOM was given power to run the association and conduct election up till April and they were doing the day-to-day running of the association. You know before they use to come and lock the secretariat. It is no longer possible. But after the first meeting we had in a Hotel in Festac, the two parties agreed to continue. So the NECOM in their own wisdom started planning for the Annual General Meeting. It is the AGM that will take certain decisions that will bring the final peace. But unfortunately, the timing was not okay to many people. Even me Prince Ozo Chukwura, I’m currently in Asaba and it pained me that I could not have been in the AGM. Thank God they postponed it. I told him the NECOM that I had already booked my appointment for 6th February. So I traveled out of Lagos and won’t be back until 8th of February. The second side is that you know that we wanted to do it in Benin but the crisis came for Benin about fuel crisis. We attempted to get a place in Asaba, but I told them that these people traveling from Port Harcourt and never calls to Asaba from Owerri because of the insecurity and is not possible to fly to Lagos before flying to Asaba and there’s no flight to Benin from Port Harcourt. So we weighed so many options. Before then, they have issued the circular out and I told him that the real thing is to postpone it especially now that the general elections is very close. The monetary policy is not favorable. Some people will be coming from Kano and Abuja. How much is their flight ticket to and fro? The association cannot afford it now. So the monetary policy and the fuel crisis contributed to the postponement. The other faction was not really satisfied having this NECOM. So we will go back to the drawing board and see how we can meet them again and agree on a collective date to move forward. We will go to the drawing board and see how we can meet them again and agree on a collective date to move forward.
When will elections hold. Is it after the meeting with the other faction?
The NECOM is meeting in April, the nation’s general elections will be ending on the 11th of March. Both Governorship and Presidential elections, everything will end on the 11th of March. So hopefully by 17th of March, we are still good to go if we start planning well. After the national election, we can still fix our own. So throughout 17th of March to the end of March, we should be able to come up with something and their tenure is ending on 15th of April, so we can squeeze out any election. We can have our AGM by the 17th of March or before then. Then all of us can agree to put in the new ASECO; which we have discussed. The ASECO will be given that one month to do a fresh elections only for the NECOM. That is for national and not for the chapters.
We also learnt that the two factions have agreed to sheath their swords and to fuse their Board of Trustees into one
I am not aware of that. Morally speaking, the truth remains that all of them in the other board know when their tenure expired and they did not participate in the new board that produced our own. So we will discuss whether to expand the board in the AGM that we can extend the board to 13 from 9 by absorbing only four of them. Taiye Oyeniyi tenure has expired twice and he cannot go for a third term. This is the truth. He knows that and everybody knows. So if he is coming for the third time, good luck to him. Prince
Is this what the board is willing to offer for these crises to end?
They are saying they need four of them to join four of us. Who is going to step down, is it people from our board? It is not possible. They have spent their six years. The four of them are entitled to another four years. But when we call the meeting in Owerri, they did not participate. Now to bring peace, we said they should join the ones that were elected. So if they know the five people that will step down for them, they should go and talk to those people and not me.
Are you not worried that that ANLCA is dying?
There are so many democratic parties that have died and some are still surviving. They are all associations. Association means the coming together of a few people who have agreed to work together for the interest of their profession or whatever they belong to. So they agreed to associate. The association can die and it can survive. If people are bent that it will die, to God be the glory, let them go ahead. If somebody is praying for the association to die, he will go into history with his record that you contributed to the death of the association. And those who fought for the association to survive, then record will show that they tried and made their efforts and it did not work. There is nobody in the association today that will see the next 60 years. Nobody! Anybody that is about 30 or 40 years now, it will take the grace of God to see the next 60 years. Within that 60 years, many are entitled to 20, 30, 40 or almost 50 years. I was estimating a maximum of 60 years for those who are currently 30 years. So they don’t have monopoly of what they are doing. All of us will fizzle out. So if they want the association to die, may God help them but history will not help them. History will have them recorded. I am not a philosopher, prophet or pastor but naturally, I will talk like a man who have seen things. We don’t want the association to die but if the power that want you to die is higher than us, let God take decision. These are my final thoughts. Solomon was having the sword to share the child and one woman was shouting asking him to go on and share the child. The other one said he should not kill this child that when the child grows, he will know his mother. Who made Solomon a wise man? It was not God but that woman. It was that woman that told Solomon to do this and that. It was that woman that made Solomon a wise man. But there was a little girl who told Herod she needed the head of John the Baptist after Herod requested what she wanted after dancing. Herod was not ready to do it, but he has been tied to his promise. He beheaded John the Baptist and when he gave it to the girl she did not collect it from him. Herod regretted doing it but he had already done that act foolishly and stupidly. So there are things we can do. It is either we behave like the girl who requested for the head of John the Baptist and could not use the head, or like the Jews who requested for the head of Jesus Christ and Potius Pilate choose to wash off his hands. Was that enough for him? And also the person who ask Solomon to spare the child. That decision made Solomon rich in wisdom. It was a poor woman who gave him the idea but the Bible did not recognise her as a wise woman. It is circumstances that bring invention. It is conditions that brings forceful inventions. For example, the Naira policy is teaching many people wisdom. I came to Asaba with N100k and I have been managing it. Before I do come with N400,000 or N500,000 and would not manage it. It is condition that makes crayfish to bend bend. We have learnt our lessons but in a good way. Whoever thinks he has monopoly of violence is entitled to it. But God bless them.
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