By DAPO OLAWUNI
There are indications that the 4-years old crisis in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) is gradually coming to an end as the gladiators, both on the side of the Registered Board of Trustees (BOT) and the National Executive Committee (NECOM) are now making concerted effort at reconciliation.
At a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the National Secretariat in Amuwo Odofin on Thursday and presided over by the Acting President, Dr Kayode Farinto, representatives from both camps attended the meeting.
Members of the association have also called for a national retreat that would be held for 3-days in order to reunite the association and resolve most of the challenges in their profession.
Speaking, the Acting President said the NECOM is ready to extend hand of fellowship and negotiate in other to make peace return to the association.
He however stated that ANLCA would not condole the use of touts and miscreants invading it’s national Secretariat.
According to him, the BOT side have expended not less than N80million in the ongoing crisis, saying that these are monies that ought to be ploughed into the association to fight it’s common course.
“Respect is a two way thing, I am extending the hand of fellowship to them, we have opened up a channel, we are ready to negotiate, we are ready to listen to anybody that feels aggrieved, and we would give and take.
“However, the sanctity of our constitution is important, we need to seat together and charge a way forward.
The fact that they are present in this NEC meeting should tell them that we want peace.
“In order to avoid crisis, this was why we said every position in ANLCA should now be for a single term so that it can go round. I keep saying it that whether you like Tony Iju or not, this is his government.
“We are not stopping anybody from entering the Secretariat, it is your Secretariat and you all contribute towards it, but what I would not allow is the use of miscreants and thugs to invade our Secretariat.
“On four occasions they have brought guns and armunitions to kill the Secretary and myself, we also have our families and we must protect ourselves.
“We are open for reconciliation and we would continue to negotiate” he said
Farinto said that he got a revelation revelation recently and that God revealed to him that those formenting trouble in ANLCA, the switch of their hearts would soon be removed
“From the other side, they have already spent over N80million on this crisis, if we have this money in-house, we would be able to protect our profession on indigenization” he said
He said the lawyers are profiting from both sides in the ANLCA Crisis and changing their vehicles.
While pressing on all members to work together with the present administration to bring the association back on track, the Acting President said it is God that chooses leaders and not man.
“When you see us supporting Chief Henry Njoku, I can count minimum of seven people that he has empowered to become a big
Boy, the question is how many people have you built? I am not the one that appointed myself here, it is divine” he said
Speaking earlier in his suggestions on the way forward, Barr Michael Ovien, one of the gladiators from the BOT camp, urged the Acting President to forget all that must have happened in the past and embrace dialogue.
“Quarrel and grievances are not new to anyone of us, but the way we can go is for us to embrace peace, the East, West and North are here for this NEC meeting, so we can all proffer peace for one ANLCA
“I said it yesterday and I would still say it today to my Acting President, whatever it is that has happened,we are still on a round table, trying to bring everybody to one umbrella, ANLCA is one big family.
“Part of your agenda should be that, you should dine with those that you feel are very difficult for you to dine with, take the bull by the horns and tell yourself that enough is enough.
Let us hold this and let it form our agenda, let us broker this peace.
“There should be a retreat that would hold us all together. We need brains that can tackle customs and let people know that we are learned people that knows the Job
“Please forgive whatever might have happened before, put it aside, you have a big thing in your heart to do” he said
Those that attended from the BOT camp are; Tin Can Island Chairman, Alhaji Muhammed Mojeed, his chapter Secretary, Barr Michael Ovien Imonitie.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of PTML chapter of the association, Elder Oluwole Obey told DAILY TREND after the meeting that the permanent way out of the crisis is to allow the Registered Board of Trustees (BOT) to conduct fresh elections into the NECOM and other chapters in the Western Zone where their tenures have expired.
Also speaking with our correspondent, National Secretary of ANLCA, Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila disclosed that a 5-man resolution committee has been formed, comprising representatives from both factions, and that gladiators in the crisis have returned to a roundtable discussion to bring about peace in ANLCA.
Meanwhile Dr Kayode Farinto have said that the association is opening a dedicated account where all members would be required to pay the sum of N5,000 in order push a Bill for Indigenization of Customs Brokerage in Nigeria.
Farinto said that a maritime lawyer, Barr Emeka Akabogu has been contracted to drive the process between ANLCA and the National Assembly.
He lamented that foreigners, including multinational shipping lines have taken over jobs belonging to Nigerian agents, and that many of them now have clearing arm.
He lamented that very few members of ANLCA are presently involved in clearing of project Cargoes.
“Foreigners have taken over Ninety percent of our jobs, by practicing door to door services, or allowing non-functional Nigerians to be to be members as Director in their company’s.
“We have gotten Lawyers and put up a bill on the need to indigenize “Customs Brokerage” which is a Nucleus of Freight Forwarding, (to be left for Nigerians alone)
Farinto reeled out some of the recent efforts and achievement of the NECOM, especially as regard the 15% NAC levy slammed on imported vehicles by the federal government though Nigeria Customs Service.
“We have made lots of efforts to solve this problems amongst which are paying visit to the National Assembly, the Federal Ministry of Finance in order to make the Executive Arm of this government see reason on the need to ameliorate the suffering of the masses, by reducing this levy to 5%, if it will not be scrapped out-rightly.
“About few days ago, I raised this issue at the inaugural plenary meeting of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN).
“Meanwhile, the Council has directed that, the Registrar should as a matter of urgency engage the Federal Ministry of Finance on the issue. I equally informed the Council, that Freight Forwarders can only be ready to pay the POF charges when they see that the Council is protecting them and one of it is to stop the 15% levy collection on used vehicles.” he said