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IJU ANTHONY NWABUNIKE: 4 YEARS OF REFORMS, AMISS GANG UP, DESTRUCTION AT ANLCA

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By Innocent Orok

Tony Iju, National President, ANLCA

According to Lord Chesterfield ” A man of sense is never discouraged by difficulties , he redoubles his industry and his diligence, he perseveres and infallibly prevails at last”.

Today 14th Febuary 2022 marks the fourth year anniversary of the present National Executive Committee (NECOM) of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) in office. If not for the amended of the association’s constitution in2020, Nwabunike and his team will have been going for a second tenure of another four years in office and surely due to their excellence performance, there will have been no stopping them.

Recalled in 2018 at Enugu the present ANLCA NECOM team of Iju Anthony Nwabunike was elected as president, Dr Kayode Farinto Collins, Vice President, Alhaji Babatunde Abdulazeez Mukaila as National Secretary, Dada Akubuzor Treasurer, Hajia Bola Muse , Financial Secretary, Chief Dennis Ugwu, Assistant National Secretary and Aduna Joe Sanni as National Publicity Secretary. Their tenure was as at then to run for four years, renewable for a second tenure of four years.

In the last four years, many water has passed under the bridge leaving in its wake disagreements, infighting, threats , destruction, legal tussles and love lost for the ANLCA family among some members, with the battle feild hovering between the present NECOM and some of the former BOT members. But one thing remains certain, which is change the constant factor in life.

ACHIEVEMENTS BY THE PRESENT NECOM OF ANLCA IN THE LAST 4 YEARS:
There is no gain saying that Countries and Organisations all over the world are facing both leadership and followership challenges. But for most active and strategic leaders, such challenges don’t deter them from turning such situations into opportunities to make their marks in the organisation.

For those who may not know the exact state of affairs in ANLCA before the present NECOM took over, it may as well be difficult for them to see the giant strides the present leadership of ANLCA has attained. Moreso, with the protracted crises , many may delibertely decides to see only the crises, but not successes recorded in the last four years by the Tony Nwabunike’s led ANLCA.

UNBLOCKING OF ANLCA’s 300 LICENCES BY CUSTOMS:
On assumption of office in 2018, there were lamentations and wailing by over 300 members of ANLCA over the blocking of their operational licences by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nwabunike and his team strategically step in by appealing to the NCS and all the over 300 licences were unblocked by Customs. Today owners of those licences are enjoying using it for their businesses.

CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT WITH NCS AND OTHER AGENCIES OF GOVERNMENT:
For the records , in last four years and most notably is that the NECOM has refused to be a rubber stamp of the present Customs Management. Instead they have been able to engage the NCS with constructive deliberations on issues that affect freight forwarding and Customs brokerage practices to the betterment of their members. Most recent is the adoption of some of ANLCA’s contributions in the recently repealed Customs and Excise Management Act ( CEMA) by the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise at the National Assembly. The association has also engaged the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, National Assembly, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Terminal Operators among others for collaborations and synergies in moving the maritime industry forward.

SANITY AND CORDIAL WORKING RELATIONSHIP AMONG ITS CHAPTERS:
The ANLCA NECOM of today has brought sanity to the Chapters, working harmoniously with the Chapter Executives with a better understanding of their roles and alive to their constitutional responsibilities. Unlike in the past administrations where the Chapter Excos were untouchables, even when they blatantly refused to make revenue remittances as their statutory dues to the headquarters in their three years in office, there was no consequences nor punishment for their actions. Today, there is very cordial relationship between the NECOM and all the over 18 chapters of the association across the Country.

RETURNS ANLCA TO CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY:
The ANLCA NECOM has return the association to a Constitutional procedural organisation, giving powers and full operations to it’s Supreme Constitution as a strategic and all encompassing document. Today, members are duly guided by the detects of the constitution and are enjoying constitutional freedom and also apply it when necessary. Notably, in this case is the recent Federal High Court judgement which returns all the 13 different Court cases to arbitration as contained in the ANLCA supreme Constitution.

SANITY AND DIGITALIZATION OF ANLCA’S NATIONAL SECRETARIAT:
The Nwabunike led regime has brought sanity and respect to the ANLCA’s family despite the handy work of detractors. Unlike in the past, the ANLCA Headquarter has been fully equipped with computers , CCTV cameras, work stations and other befitting furniture and fittings. This NECOM has in the last four years maintained the edifice despite the unwarranted destruction of the secretariat three times by sponsored hoodlums, the association never solicits outside help to repair the property or pay staff salaries in the course of the last four years. Also, all members attend meetings with comfort without contributing money to fuel generators at the headquarters, as the NECOM takes full responsibility of maintaining the National Secretariat.The NECOM has also remodelled the National headquarters building into a cushy environment,with state of the art,modern and functional equipment, a functional security post and other feats better than a mere block of office met at inception.

REGISTRATION OF 500 NEW LICENSE OWNERS:
The present ANLCA NECOM has shown professional leadership with dialogue and collaborative diplomacy to proof that institutions is more superior to individuals, no matter how highly place they may be. This efforts has attracted over 500 new corporate companies in addition to the over 1,000 companies when the regime took over in 2018. Today, genuinely licensed members of the association has risen to over 1, 500 Corporate members.

ESTABLISHMENT OF LEGAL DEPARTMENT:
Another milestone recorded by the association under this leadership is the establishment of a legal department for the association. Today, members can enjoy legal representations to mitigate their operational challenges. There was non functional legal department before now, in the ANLCA. Presently, dossiers of operational challenges are being resolved between members and Government agencies and critical stakeholders by free representation from the association’s NYSC in house lawyers, who have been up and doing in the institutionalization of ANLCA’s constitution in the courts of law.

TRAINING PROGRAM FOR MEMBERS:
This present NECOM has brought to his members as a yardstick upgrading their capacities in the Customs brokerage profession. The various trainings are being carried out at the National Secretariat for members at no cost. Also , newly elected Executives at the chapters in the Eastern Zone were trained in leadership skills before being sworn in to their new offices after their successful elections.The NECOM has opened a Master Classroom for at least 20 Executives at a go and other various training programmes are still onging .

ELECTION OF BOT MEMBERS, CHAPTER CHAIRMEN AND APPOINTMENT OF PATRONS:
In the last four years, despite the challenges and distractions, the NECOM was able to conduct Chapter elections in the three geopolitical zones of the West, East and North. The association today has duly elected Executives representing them in the over 18 chapters across the Country. Worthy of commendation too was the election of the new Board of Trustees (BOT)members after the expiration of the tenure of the former board in 2020. Today, the association has a board with highly respected personalities to run its affairs. Also, of commendation and for the first time in the history of the over 68 years ANLCA, this regime appointed a Grand Patron and Patrons to act as advisers to the foremost freight forwarding association.

ANLCA AND CRFFN:
ANLCA under this regime has fought many battles to ensure that is well represented at the CRFFN Governing Council. During the just concluded election, the ANLCA secures five seats as Council members at the CRFFN board.

WHY ANLCA LEADERSHIP TENURES. WERE ALTERED ( CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT)
It is a normal and routine exercise for organisations and associations to review and amend the rules and regulations that guide and regulate their existence to meet the realities of the present. As such Constitution changes or amendments is not new. In fact as we speak Nigeria is doing same. Let it be noted that no association can be registered in Nigeria by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) without their well drafted constitution being submitted and scrutinized by the CAC before registration is granted. And when such organisations amend their constitution the amended copy is also submitted to the CAC for custody.

For emphasis, the Supreme Constitution of ANLCA has gone through various amendments in the past over 68 years of the formost Customs Brokers existence, the recent being 2018 and the latest 2020 amendments which is now causing hullabaloo in the public sphere. What then went wrong in the latest ANLCA’s constitution amendments ?,.

For the purpose of facts, the ANLCA Constitution SECTION 5: NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL: Composition- states “The National Executive Council (NEC) shall consist of the National President as the Chairman, the Vice President, vice Chairman, National Secretary as Secretary, members of the Board of Trustees and all officers established in Section 6 ( National Executive Committee (NECOM) of the constitution, all chapter Chairmen and their Secretaries, Financial Secretaries and Treasurers and such other person’s the Council may from time to time appoints to it’s membership.

“As the highest decision making body of the association it’s functions includes:
a) Be the highest decision and policy making body of the association.
b) Take all necessary and reasonable measures in accordance with the provisions of this constitution to ensure law and order in the association.
g) Appoint, ratify , confirm or dissolve the appointment (s) of any or all members of Standing or Ad- hoc Committees , Patrons, Matron’s, and any other official so appointed for the association.
I) Recommend amendments to this constitution.

The illustration of this particular Section of the ANLCA’s Supreme Constitution has become necessary to put to rest the confusion and misinformation being created by mischief makers that , Tony Nwabunike gave to himself tenure elongation. It is also factual to note that nobody can decide anything in ANLCA without the NEC as the highest decision making body approving it.

OWERRI AGM AND ANLCA’s CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT:
Again for the purpose of public enlightenment, just like any other association, the ANLCA Constitution allows for Annual General Meetings (AGM), so the December 2020 ANLCA’s Owerri Annual General Meeting (AGM) was legal , in accordance with the ANLCA’s Supreme Constitution and was fully attended by expected members of the association.

For emphasis, the Owerri AGM was called for two reasons, first to elect new Board of Trustees members , since the old board members tenures elected in 2014 have completed their six years tenure since February 2020. Secondly, it was for the ANLCA members to take stock, delibrate and take a second look at their Constitution and see where amendments can be effected.

With the successful completion of the BOT elections which voting was done mainly online and again this is the first time in the history of the 68 years old association election and voting was done online. The event also attracted both the Executive Governor of Imo State, Sen. Hope Uzodima , his deputy and others of his state Executive Council.

Getting to general at the AGM , Mr Ojo Akintoye, the current Chairman of the association’s Tin Can Island Chapter during his contributions has suggested for the amendment of the constitution for all Executive positions including that of BOT to read only one tenure and not two tenures as it was then. Ojo further said his reason is to reduce tension in the association. He proposed , Five years one tenure for all NECOM members, instead of the former four years of two tenures. For the BOT members , he proposed six years one tenure instead of six years two tenures and for all Chapter Executives, he proposed four years single tenure, instead of three years two tenures.There was uproar in the house.
At the end the whole house agreed to Ojo’s recommendations.

Tony Nwabunike presiding with other of his NECOM members were hit below the belt of not going for a second tenure of another four years. He asked, when will the new tenures start? Is it after my second term?. They all sounded no! no! no!!!. At the end, the house agreed that the new tenures should start with the present NECOM, instead of them doing eight years, they should do only five years to end their tenure in April 2023 and leave. The rest is now history.

It is petinent to also note that, the present NECOM of ANLCA has one of the most loyal and best brains in the association and I believe if the “Great Professionals” abhor true and great guts , ANLCA can overcome it’s challenges and build a formidable and professional association.

Let the NECOM in this extra one year consolidate to leave a friction free and formidable team that will officially kick start , the new leadership numencleture in ANLCA. Bon Voyage to the Great ANLCA team.

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