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By Innocent Orok

Iju Tony Nwabunike, National President ANLCA

“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the road blocks that lay before you” Denis Waitley.

Nwabunike presenting a souvenir to the International President of Nigerian Football Supporters Club and pioneer National President of ANLCA, Dr Rafiu Oladipo during a courtesy visit to the ANLCA National Secretariat recently.

Yesterday was remarkable as well as stock taking for Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike as he clocked two years in office, leaving him with two more years to conclude his first tenure as the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA).
Tony Nwabunike was elected on March 8th, 2018 in Enugu, Enugu State as the next National President of the 66 years old ANLCA in a kindly contested election in which he won his closest rival, Chief Emenike Nwokedi with just three votes.
He was sworn -in on the 14th of April 2018 to take over from Prince Olayinwola Shittu who has concluded his eight years tenure of four years each.

No doubt the result of the election had sparked up confrontations and power tussles among various power blocks of the pioneer Customs Agents organisation, but Nwabunike has manage to keep the space of survival, championing the course of credible leadership.

Looking back at the last two years of Nwabunike’s tenure, one sees a basket full of the good, odds and gladiolus future for Nigeria’s oldest freight forwarding association, if only the great potentials embedded in both the past and present leadership of the organisation is fully harnessed for the benefits of the ANLCA.

The present leadership of ANLCA could be described in the words of Gorden B.Hinkley ” You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make”.
Though ANLCA has had great leaders that in the past propelled the mandate of the body since 1954, but as we know every leadership or leader has its peculiar challenges and tasks to grapple with.

A cursory look at the past two years of Nwabunike’s presidency, no doubt has recorded modest achievements that could promote a binding force to a greater heights ahead. During a chat with some group of Journalists few months back, he said his leadership has been able to negotiate with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to release over 300 licenses of his members which were hitherto, either blocked or suspended.
Some ANLCA members have also underwent national and International training programmes on new clearance procedures with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Standards Organisation of Nigeria ( SON) and National Agency for Foods, Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC).

Other modest achievements within the period according to the Anambra State born number one Customs Broker in Nigeria are robust engagement of key government agencies like the Minister of State for Transportation, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Customs Management, SON and NSC management among others. These engagements among other things is to promote cordial and friction free working relationship with the Customs Brokers in carrying out their functions.

Nwabunike has vowed that never again will stakeholders treat Customs Brokers as nobodies. In one of his engagement with the media he said ” Never again will a Customs Broker or Clearing Agent as you may wish to called be treated with disdain as we are a critical stakeholder. We are the ones generating money for the government in the ports and we should be accorded respect and be protected “.

On the road to the amicable resolution of the crises in the association Nwabunike will often say “We will resolve all issues, there is no crises in ANLCA, is only a misunderstanding and we have all resolved to work as one big family”.

No doubt, the regime of Nwabunike is vigorously pushing for the National Assembly to sign into law the Nigerian Customs Brokers Act which was started by the last regime of Prince Olayinwola Shittu. According to him, the leadership of ANLCA is consulting widely to make sure when the document hit the National Assembly it will have a smooth sail to change the narratives of Customs licensed agents practice in Nigeria.

Also , the ANLCA president has promised his members that immediately after the lockdown, the over 8000 registered Corporate and licensed members of the association across Nigeria will undertake Life Insurance Policies as well as established a registered Corporate Society to Carter for all members welfare.
He further said that more members will be trained locally and internationally to embraced the latest World Trade
Organisation ( WTO), World Customs Organisation ( WCO) other international trade facilitation tools as well as the NCS and other Maritime Agencies domesticated trading tools.

No doubt Iju Tony Nwabunike has shown good traits of credible leadership and protection of the corporate entity and membership of ANLCA. One could see him even during the lockdown in Lagos championing better deals for all Freight Forwarders.

Nwabunike is also one of the association’s President in recent times that is enjoying stakeholders cooperation especially the Maritime Media with unprecedented publicity .
It is pertinent therefore, that he should use the next two years of his first tenure to further tightened the lose ends that will place ANLCA, his members and the entire Freight Forwarding community in an enviable pedestal that Nigerians will be proud of.

Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike in a modern days leadership strategy should apply the words of Dag Hammarskjold ” Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step, only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find his right road”.
As your predecessor, Prince Olayinwola Shittu is being remembered for building a befitting national Secretariat for ANLCA after over 50 years of its existence. You could also write your name in gold when you leave office , probably ANLCA will have been over 70 years then. We wish you the best ahead.

Innocent Orok, a Maritime Journalist, writes from Lagos.

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