By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Tony Iju Nwabunike led executives of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) yesterday clocked two years in office, even as members of the association have commended the president for his resiliency and for weathering the storms.
DAILY TREND NEWS recalls that no sooner had the executives been inaugurated in April 14, 2018 that crisis of supremacy broke out within the association.
The first battle Tony Iju was confronted with was the battle for power, relevance and position among the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the association. The gladiators; Chief Henry Njoku and Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha and their supporters polarised the association in their quest to determine who becomes chairman of BOT.
Apart from the crisis in the BOT, tribalism and ethnicity played a major role in the crisis that confronted ANLCA under Tony Iju. Majority of the Igbo’s formed an Eastern block within the association and queued up behind Henry Njoku while the Yoruba’s supported Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha.
Suffices to say that ANLCA, established in 1954 also had other tribes including Hausa, Edo, Effik among others, with a lot of pressure groups within the association. These pressure groups are; Oodua Maritime Forum, Igbo Maritime Forum, Arewa Maritime Forum, Edo Maritime Forum among others.
In the battle for the soul of ANLCA, some of the so called Igbos, and Arewas apparently were equally supporting Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha as the most preferred BOT Chairman, as his opposition, Henry Njoku was alleged to have perpetuated himself in office for more than ten years.
A stakeholder once said that “Anybody that can rule as President of ANLCA can rule Nigeria, because ANLCA is a mini Nigeria, there are lots of powerful mafias and power brokers in the association”
Nothwithstanding all the distractions which was apparently beyond the control of the National President, he was able to hold down the roof from falling with the support of his entire executives.
Tony Iju in 2019 took a major step to restore peace into ANLCA and reconcile all warring factions by bringing all stakeholders to a roundtable for discussion. A “Moving Forward Committee” was subsequently set up. Our correspondent through investigations gathered that these peace moves have started yielding positive fruits.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS on the event of Tony Iju’s two years in office, former chairman of the Muritala Muhammed Airport Chapter in Lagos, Mr Alloy Nze Igwe said it would be wrong to assess the performance of the executives because of the crisis in the association.
Speaking he said “This NECOM came in with high hopes, it was a blend of old and new, seasoned ANLCA members that would take up from where President Shittu stopped, unfortunately, what is happening in the association from then till now is there for everybody to see”
“Assessing their performance based on the crisis on ground, one would be very wrong in his judgement”
“The aspect I want to appeal is for the gladiators in this crisis to see reasons, whatever is the cause of the crisis, whoever may be wrong or right, we should see it that ANLCA is bigger than all of us and they should make sacrifices”
“Look at the turnout of events in the world today, who would believe that a single sickness (Coronavirus) could lockdown the whole world? It is enough for us to begin to see beyond the way we were seeing before and drop whatever malice and misgivings we have for ourselves, we supposed to drop it and move forward, this is what ANLCA needs right now”
“The crisis had not given the NECOM the opportunity to showcase their potentials, but within the confines of the crisis, they were able to do what they could, I would give it to them that they have tried their best because the association have not sunk, they have been able to keep it afloat”
“I want to appeal to the gladiators to bury their hatchet, let us give the executives the benefit of doubt for the remaining year of their tenure, nobody among us could boast that they achieved anything within two years of the crisis, we should use this anniversary to drop our misgivings and move forward ” Alloy stated.
Also speaking with our correspondent at PTML Chapter, Public Relations Officer of the chapter, Comrade Ayokunle Sulaiman commended Tony Iju led executives of ANLCA, saying that despite the crises that engulfed the association, they have started catching up and moving with the tides.
“Tony Iju Nwabunike has been working assiduously, but I believe he can do better. He has had it very tough and rough at the beginning of his tenure, but of recent, I think he is catching up and he is almost getting it right”
“The NECOM is not about the President alone, every other executive must have hands on deck if they want that government to succeed”
“The Vice President of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto is doing great as well, and the National Secretary, Babatunde Mukhaila is the most electronic person we have had in the history of ANLCA Secretary, he is a man of technology, they are all working, but there is no way that we won’t have challenges”
Speaking on the recent move by Tony Iju by calling all the gladiators together for a peace meeting, Comrade Sulaiman reiterated that their was a committee constituted to reconcile everybody.
He however said that the committee is yet to submit its report.
Comrade Sulaiman said that “While waiting for the committee, Tony is working, the purpose of the committee shows that Tony meant well for ANLCA”