By DAPO OLAWUNI
Chairman of the Registered Board of Trustees of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha has lamented how the politics of bitterness allegedly being played by the court-suspended National Executive Committee (NECOM) led by Tony Iju Nwabunike has killed the spirit of one-love and conviviality at the associations national secretariat.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos recently, Alhaji Mustapha recounted how, during the immediate past President Olayiwola Shittu, Licensed Customs Agents would always retire back to the National Secretariat as a rallying point for relaxation.
He alleged that today, the ANLCA National Secretariat is a shadow of its old glory, and that even the present occupants do not have any peace of mind because they are constantly looking over their shoulders.
“At the National Secretariat, they have been standing on their toes in the last 3-years. When Shittu was President of ANLCA, by this time of the evening, you would see almost every agent would retire back to the Secretariat to go and relax.
“But since the suspended NECOM came, have they been able to do that? Up till tommorow they are still on their toes, you have a house, and yet you are entering through the back door”
“Why is it that they cannot open the Secretariat front gates freely? When you have a house and you are using the back door, it means you are a 419. They do not have any hold” he lamented.
Mustapha however assured that the association is warming up for another election, adding that the tenure of Tony Iju Nwabunike expires in February 2022.
After the NECOM election has been conducted successfully, he assured that some other chapters whose tenures have elapsed, their elections would follow.
Meanwhile, the ANLCA BOT Chairman recounted how the shutdown of oil rigs due to Covid-19 affected freight forwarding sector and that affected members who deal on oil and gas cargoes are yet to come out of it.
“A lot jobs have suffered, a lot of people have lost their jobs in millions.
Coming back to the freight forwarding in Nigeria, when there is production going on in the rigs, simultaneously, there are lots of providers that goes along with that production, we have those who supply the chemicals, those based on the electrical aspects, mechanical aspect and other various services. If you have ever visited any oil rig before you would know that it is really massive.
“So, when you shutdown an oil rig, it takes a minimum of ninety days to six months for that oil rig to come up again, it is not like a well that you closedown, and when you want to continue to fetch water, you just open and continue to fetch. It is not equally like the borehole where you just open and water pumps out, it takes a lot for an oil rig and an average oil well to come back to normal production.
“What happened was that during the Covid-19, a lot of oil rigs were shutdown, the oil industry almost collapsed.
“What we were doing in 2021 was a kind of backlog of items that were ready in the supply chain from the previous year.
“If an oil company places order for certain items, it takes some months for the production of these items to be ready. Apart from this, it takes months again for the items to get to Nigeria.
“So, some of the items were already produced in the warehouse, while some were already at the ports before the economic shutdown due to Covid-19.
“When the economy opened again in 2021, these items started coming in again, and that was why didn’t feel the impact immediately because it was a supply chain.
“Getting towards the 3rd quarter of 2021, these items were already getting exhausted at the warehouses, meanwhile, manufacturing of new items have not started.
“When it got exhausted, our own work here started going down.
So, as it is today, we are hoping that the Omicron would not affect the new production that they just started.
“Most of the producers and manufacturers of the oil well equipment were just returning back to work, it would take some time before sending in these items and before the rigs would continue to work normal.
“This takes us to why the economy and the freight forwarders were affected so badly, I am not seeing it as something to end in one week, it is not a tea party for the situation to return to normal.
“We are hoping that in few months to come, the Omicron would not affect production” he concluded