By DAPO OLAWUNI
The crisis that has bedevilled the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) for the past four years is gradually coming to an end as the two warring factions; Board of Trustees (BOT) and the National Executive Committee (NECOM) on Tuesday sat down and reconciled their major differences.
DAILY TREND learnt that the reconciliation meeting which held at the State Command of Nigerian Police Force in Ikeja Lagos, was presided over by the Commissioner of Police, at the instance of Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba.
The meeting had in attendance, Chief Henry Njoku, Chief Peter Obi, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha and his board members, as well as other big wigs within the association.
At the end of the meeting, investigations by this medium revealed that major areas of contention that was resolved includes the extention of tenure of office for Hon Tony Iju Nwabunike for a single tenure of five years.
Recall that the ANLCA Constitution was amended in 2020 at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) conducted in Owerri, Imo State. This constitution extended the tenure in office for NECOM officials from four years to five years single term, while chapter Executives will spend four years instead of three years.
Apparently, both parties have agreed to allow the constitution amendment to remain, while other NECOM members like Mr Joe Sanni, the National Publicity Secretary, Chief John Oforbike, the Western Zone Cordinator and others can resume back and finish their tenure alongside Tony Iju.
Recall that Sir Oforbike, Joe Sanni and others had pulled back from the NECOM, following a court order in 2019 that directed the entire NECOM members to stop parading themselves in office.
Apart from the foregoing, the issue of Board elections conducted at the same AGM in Owerri have also been resolved.
The old BOT headed by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha would now be merged together with the new board to work together.
However, our correspondent learnt that some persons would have to be excused from the new board constituted in Owerri.
Our correspondent gathered that there is only one major area of contention to be resolved and this is the Western Zone elections and positions at the chapters.
The Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha faction’s argument is that those Chairmen under its control, who were already serving in office should be allowed to complete their single term of four years in office, in line with the newly adopted constitution.
The tenure of these chairmen have elapsed in January 2022, but going by the constitution amendment, they are to spend one extra year to complete stipulated four years.
After this, fresh elections can now be conducted into the chapters.
But the NECOM side, though not totally opposing this move, but they are handicapped by the demands of their parallel chapter executives whom were elected last last year to operate a parallel government at the chapters.
Sources confirmed to DAILY TREND that the parallel chairmen were the major reason while the ANLCA crisis have lingered.
The demand of the NECOM is that Western Zone chairmen under Taiwo Mustapha should be allowed to enjoy six months extra in office, while their own Chairmen should take over and continue.
Another outstanding area is the Tin Can Island Chapter and the Airport Chapter which is considered very volatile areas that needs to be looked into and resolved amicably.
Meanwhile, a 4-man Committee has been set up to address and resolve the remaining grey areas. Members of the committee are; Dr Kayode Farinto, Prince Segun Oduntan, Sir John Oforbike and Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila.
Speaking exclusively with DAILY TREND on the major resolutions, Patron of ANLCA, Chief Henry Njoku expressed satisfaction that finally, the four years old crisis is coming to an end.
Henry Njoku said “We have resolved almost all the issues, the commissioner of police asked me to preside over the meeting which I did, and all the request made were carried, except for the Western Zone, the election conducted, this is where the issue lies.
“They ( Taiwo Mustapha’s BOT) were asking the people we elected to step down for their own people, and I told them it is beyond me, I can not handle that. The one of the BOT, we can still amend, those of them that wants to be in the board can remain, and for the NECOM, those who were there before, they can return back to their offices and end up when the current NECOM is ending up.
“The only contentious issue is the Western Zone election, we have appointed Kayode Farinto, Mukaila, Segun and Oforbike to look into it.
“It would be difficult to tell those who have won election to step down, I told the commissioner that I cannot handle it. Every other demands they made, we are almost through with it” Njoku stated
On the BOT imbroglio, he said “What we agreed upon is for them to check their team, those who were there before, and wants to return, we can call for an AGM and amend the constitution to increase the number of board members, they can work together.
“They said they are five BOT members, but i am not sure five of them would want to go back, but if they are three that wants to go back, they can go back, and if they are five that wants to go back, we can still extend it.
“If we have peace in our association, some of the challenges happening to our members would not be happening again, it is important that we work together as one family, what are we fighting for?
“I believe we had a genuine discussion, the only issue left is the Western Zone.
Their argument is that the tenure of their Chairman whose tenure expired recently, should be extended by one year, going by the new constitution” Chief Njoku stated
Also speaking with our correspondent, Sir John Oforbike, Western Zone Leader of ANLCA, though refused to speak on the subject matter initially. He said all parties have agreed not to disclose anything to the press for now.
However, on further prodding by our correspondent, confirmed what Chief Njoku had said.
Oforbike said “We have agreed to accept all the elections they did in the East and the North, we would allow it to stay, also, all our own elections in the West, they should allow it to stay.
“They said the constitution that was amended should stay, this means single term of five years for NECOM and four years for the chapters, we agreed to that.
“The NECOM can complete their tenure of five years, while those at chapters whose tenure expired this year January should be allowed to be in office for one year. After this, there would be a general election.
“But they are now insisting that our people should use six months and step aside for their own elected officials to continue. This is where the issue is
“The elections in Western Zone is the major issue, the NECOM came to conduct a parallel government here in the west, while there are still people in place serving their tenure” he said
On his part, Secretary General of ANLCA, Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila confirmed that the Police Commissioner, acting on the directive of the Inspector General of Police wanted ANLCA to resolve the crisis.
He said “For the first time, Mustapha sat with Henry Njoku since the beginning of this crisis.
Some of the items on the table have been resolved, hopefully by today, we would resolve the other grey areas.
Mukaila refused to state the major agreements reached, he however admitted that there is progress between the old board and the new board.
“Thank God that both boards are now seating, and we are just an observer, once they resolve all their differences hopefully by the end of today, ANLCA will come out with an official position.
“We are finally taking a very major step in this crisis, we have brought the two parties to the table and we are making progress” he confirmed.