…Team Receives Ex-President, Sanni Kamba’s Endorsement
…We would Deliver All Our Licenses to Emenike-Oduntan, Abuja Chapter Assures
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigeria Customs Service headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday received the campaign team of Emenike Nwokeoji and Prince Segun Oduntan as President and Vice Presidential candidates for the forthcoming elections of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA)
The team was received by senior customs officers including Deputy Comptroller General, Tariff & Trade, DCG Hamza Gummi and Assistant Comptroller General in charge of Tariff & Trade, ACG Musa MBA.
The Customs has however charged the Emenike-Oduntan campaign to embark on aggressive rebuilding of the corporate image of the freight forwarding sector in Nigeria.
Opening up the conversion, Assistant Comptroller General of customs, Musa MBA informed the ANLCA team that the body language of the President Bola Tinubu administration is enough to cause every practitioners in the industry on the need to seat up.
He said “As you prepare for your new leadership, you really need to reflect on righting the wrongs quickly, if we don’t do that ourselves, an external body would come in and do it.
“The body language of the new government is enough to tell you that all of us have to seat up.
ANLCA and Customs as most strategic operators have achieved a lot together in terms of trade facilitation, automation and so on, you must try and let the government see all these achievements.
“The corporate image of the industry has to be revisited, and it has to be done aggressively for us to put ourselves in a good position”
Speaking in the same vein, Deputy Comptroller General of Customs, Tariff & Trade, DCG Hamza Gummi reprimanded ANLCA for the dipping corporate image of clearing agents in the industry because of their u resolved internal crisis.
He urged the association to unite as one, so as to interface with the federal government, especially in the formulation of policies, such that would affect Customs Service and Freight Forwarding practice.
“On the issue of the corporate image, you share part of the blame because you wash your dirty linens in public, it is high time that you people address this. You can promote your corporate image and that of the customs with your activities.
“You need to come together as a body, whoever emerge as President in this election, let it come from God, because leadership comes from God. When you come together and harmonize the way you do things, you will earn respect and people will look at the way you do things, you should not be a body that is always quarreling”
“I am happy that this team have come forward and we are discussing this, maybe God is trying to give us a way forward. We have achieved a lot, and we can also rubbish it by ourselves, but we should not allow that to happen, I am begging you please” Gummi pleaded
Responding, the ANLCA Presidential aspirant, Emenike Nwokeoji assured the customs administration that the association would get consultants and professional help in ensuring that the achievements of customs and licensed agents are preserved.
Emenike said that this is necessary, especially in the face of the proposed Federal Government merger of Nigeria Customs Service with other agencies like Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)
Also speaking, the ANLCA Vice Presidential aspirant, Prince Segun Oduntan lamented that the association has lost its voice, adding that before now, ANLCA usually engage government in policy formulation, such that affects the customs service and maritime trade in general.
“The association has lost leadership and we are ready to restore it to the days of Prince Olayiwola Shittu whereby ANLCA usually speak for customs because they are civil servants and they cannot speak on government policies. This is why we have gotten the backing of all our past presidents who have also onvowed not to allow the association and the industry to die” he said
The campaign team also visited former President of ANLCA, Senator Sanni Kamba in his Abuja resident where he charged Emenike-Oduntan to reunite the association and restore it to the part of peace.
He observed that Tony Iju ran away in the middle of his administration because he was not up to the task.
“Your people have taken this administration backwards, you people do not speak with one voice like before, the customs and agencies at the port don’t even listen to you anymore because they find out that you are not united
“By the grace of God, when you get into office, you have a lot to do, you must give a new direction. We hope for the better, I wish you well and hope that you would win this election
“I look forward to a new association, back to its former position. Don’t shy away from consulting, when you consult, it means that you are on the right track” Senator Kamba stated
Earlier at the Abuja chapter of ANLCA, the Restoration Team were received by the chapter members, led by its Chairman, Alhaji Abdusalam Abduraheem who pledged that the chapter would gather all practicing licenses and deliver a block vote for Emenike-Oduntan in the coming elections.
“We in Abuja work together in harmony, we are aware of the track record of the candidates on this restoration team and we need people that would restore our good relationship with Nigeria Customs Service.
“We are going to gather all the licenses we have here in Abuja and deliver it to you.
We would install those that can lead to restore the old glory of ANLCA where customs respect our members, and we would get what our members deserve. I can assure you that we in Abuja are one big family and we move in one direction, i can assure you of our full support” Abduraheem stated
While addressing the Abuja chapter members the Vice President aspirant, Prince Segun Oduntan charged the clearing agents to use their God given intellect to elect the right team into office.
“This profession has helped someone like me to travel more than 28 countries all over the world, there are lots of opportunities in this job when you are sincere with it. There are lots of people living in affluence today still doing this job, so we cannot allow some mediocres to come and destroy where we are getting our daily bread.
“When I was Chairman of Tin Can Ports, I left the place with three operational vehicles, we did healthcare projects for our members whereby Doctors come twice in a week to attend to them, we provided funds and created an insurance package for members which many are still enjoying today.
“The campaign team is tagged Restoration Team because everyone on this team are tested and trusted, they have served in one capacity or the other in ANLCA, and with your support, we can never get it wrong” he stated
Also speaking, Emenike Nwokeoji stated that when he lost the president election to Tony Iju Nwabunike in 2018, he decided to step aside and allow him enjoy his tenure and that he didn’t go to court, even though there were irregularities in the electioneering processs.
“When I lost the election in Enugu, I didn’t bother to go to court because as Vice President under Shittu, I was the one that buried all court cases that we inherited, how can I now create another one? I simply went back home and faced by business. But now, the other group are trying to use this against me, what do you expect me to do? If I say anything when Tony Iju was in office, they would say it is because I lost election, so I did not try to interfere in his administration.
“However, right now, agents are suffering and this is why I have put myself forward to salvage the situation. I cannot fold my hands and allow people that have no stake to mess up the whole system.
“This team comprises of great minds, they are not people that we just picked on the road, they are people that have paid their dues in the association who would collectively bring our experience to bare in the association. I can assure you that if after one year, you do not see the difference, you can ask us to resign and we would do that.
“We are coming with a restoration message, we want to restore our respect, dignity, honesty, our integrity, we want to restore this job to the people that knows it, we want to restore our relationship with people that we operate with, which is customs. ANLCA was able to acquire it’s national Secretariat through good relationship.
During an interactive session with ANLCA members at the airport, the members urged Emenike-Oduntan team to ensure that all associations, including NAGAFF come together and speak in one voice.
The members lamented that the customs brokerage profession has deteriorated to a situation whereby customs, FAAN and other government agencies at the airport chase agents out of their offices and treat them with disdain.
Responding, Emenike said the port is big enough to accommodate everyone and that Nigerian constitution allows for freedom of association.
“Go and look for bill of laden, association is just to make your work easy, association does not clear the goods, it is you” he said
He encouraged clearing agents on the need to acquire more knowledge on the job in order to withstand intimidation from customs officers.
“Nobody knows it all, if you have challenges on the job, don’t commit yourself, look for someone more knowledgeable than you, consult your colleagues and tap from their experience” he concluded