…CRFFN Chairman Parley with BOT Inconclusive, Continues Today
By DAPO OLAWUNI
There are indications that the 5-years leadership crisis that has rocked the biggest customs brokers association in Africa; the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) is now attracting federal government attention on a full scale, even as the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) is dragging the attention of every concerned agency into resolving the matter.
This is also as the Chairman of registered Board of Trustees (BOT) of the association, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha has said that a former minister of Transportation (name not disclosed) as well as the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Bashir Jamoh among other stakeholders are now wading into the crisis.
While addressing a press conference at the association’s National Secretariat in Lagos on Tuesday, Alhaji Mustapha said the ex-minister and the NIMASA DG called him at the instance of the Chairman of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar.
Mustapha however stressed that his members would not be attending the controversial AGM scheduled for Wednesday (today) at Eko Hotel in Lagos. He insisted that the Kayode Farinto led faction of the association does not have the right to convey such a meeting because their tenure in office expired since April 2022.
According to him, constitutionally, the duty to call for such meeting falls on the BOT in absence of a seating National President.
Mustapha said that the meeting which was at the instance of the CRFFN should not have been tagged an ‘AGM’ rather it should have been called a ‘peaceful resolution meeting’ so as to allow all members to attend.
Speaking, he said “We are ready to resolve this crisis because we are all tired of it. We want ANLCA to move forward and our members to enjoy the association. However, we wouldn’t go into a peace resolution with our hands tied behind our backs. As at this morning, this was our position before this press conference
“But I must tell you that we now find ourselves in-between at this time. At 10am this morning I received a call from a former Minister of Transport asking why I’m not cooperating with the conflict resolution moves. I was taken aback about the wrong perception, he must have been fed with wrong information. I had to give him a proper explanation of our efforts to end this so far.
“Not quite thirty minutes after, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh OFR, also called me on this matter and said somebody reported me to him that I don’t want to resolve ANLCA crisis”
On this ground, the CRFFN Chairman on Tuesday engaged the BOT faction to a meeting for four hours, appealing that they shift their stance on the crisis.
He has however scheduled another meeting for 9am on Wednesday to continue the meeting because it was inconclusive.
The BOT Chairman told journalists that the group is ready to embrace peace in order to ensure that ANLCA is restored the part of progress.
He however said “The only way to solve this matter is to go to where it all started and that is the issue of the BoT. There were proposals for each party to bring 4 members, but after several deliberations we couldn’t agree on the last member to make the Governing Board attained the stipulated 9 members.
“The other group also proposed that their 9 members join our 5-man team to make the BoT 14; but that would make the board too bogus and it also has political implications with the other party having more members.
“The last agreement we had was that, they would bring four members of their BOT and merge it with five members of the authentic BOT”
“I made up my mind to end this crisis after the violent incident at Tin Can Island Port last year. It was a turning point for me and I have resolved to find an end to this tussle. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep for weeks if someone had died in that incident. This crisis isn’t worth the blood of any member of this great association.
“The Lagos State Police Commissioner has been involved in the settlement, we must try and get it to end, it doesn’t matter if we have to shit grounds, we are ready, and l hope my brothers at the other side will reciprocate.
“Our association is suffering, our members are suffering, this cannot continue. Like l said earlier, our meeting continues tomorrow, we agree it will continue at 9am, and it is only after the meeting we will decide on the next line of action,” Mustapha said.
Also speaking, Secretary of the BOT, Prince Taiye Oyeniyi said that the board had to attend the parley with CRFFN Chairman on Tuesday because he personally placed calls to all five board members.
According to him, the various phone calls from the ex-minister and other agencies has an undertone. He told journalists and members of the association gathered that, Nigeria is at a critical time of election and the economy must be protected.
He however said that in seeking lasting solution to the ANLCA crisis, the board would not mortgage it’s members who have stand strong in the struggle for past five years.
“I want to tell you that on the part of the board, we are not cowards, but if you look at the past five years, ANLCA has lost relevance at the port, and the aim and objectives of this association is lost.
“We have reached a stage in this matter where we have to shift grounds. The decisions may not be deemed favorable by some of our members, but we will surely find an amicable solution. In the end, there will be no victor and no vanquished.
“People are becoming more open and friendly, Iju Nwabunike has started calling me on telephone, Farinto speaks to me and so is Ozo, so why can’t we close this matter up? I believe and l am hopeful we will get it right this time for the sake of everybody. I want to retire and go home happy that ANLCA is at peace, if anyone has fought for the cause of ANLCA, l will be counted, l spent my 70th birthday in the police station over ANLCA problems, so everyone must sacrifice the individual ego and embrace settlement.” he said
There are possibilities that the earlier scheduled AGM of the association scheduled for Wednesday at the Eko Hotel in Lagos may not hold because the Chairman who is expected to chair the meeting would be parleying the ANLCA BOT at the same scheduled time.
Mustapha has said that the outcome of the BOT meeting with CRFFN Chairman on Wednesday morning would form the crux of the AGM meeting or the AGM meeting would be rescheduled.
Recall that the CRFFN had intervened into the ANLCA crisis in February and the Chairman governing board directed one faction in the crisis led by Farinto Kayode to call for an Annual General Meeting (AGM) for 15th March 2023.