By Gboyega Oni
As members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) gear up to elect new chapter executives in the February 2018 elections, the two chairmanship candidates in Apapa Chapter are not giving rooms to chance as they are intensifying strategies to outdo each other.
All over the Apapa port environs, campaign posters and banners are fighting for available spaces, while the Chairmanship candidates engage in deft manouvres, lobbying elders and socio-cultural groups in the association coupled with an intensive office-to-office mobilisation of their supporters for their ballots on the day of the elections.
However, typically Nigerian, the atmosphere is now charged with the campaigns wearing tribal colourations. But to Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, one of the chairmanship candidates, the election is not a do or die affair but a call to service.
In an interview with PortNews/PortNewsNigeria in his office at Apapa, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, the Managing Director of Ibraleo Nigeria Limited, a clearing and forwarding company, said he is contesting for the office of the Apapa chapter Chairman to work and serve the interest of members of NAGAFF, the port industry and the nation. “My mission is a call to service.”
Speaking on his plans to improve freight forwarding in Apapa and Nigeria in general, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, who had once served as the Chairman of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA Apapa chapter), said his administration will work with Customs, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), shipping companies, terminals and other stakeholders to promote freight forawarding business in the port.
He said most challenges such as indiscriminate blocking of entries by SON, NAFDAC and arbitrary increase in charges and introduction of new ones by shipping companies being encountered by freight forwarders arise because there is no genuine leaders to champion the rights of customs agents. He therefore promised to engage all these agencies towards solving all these challenges if elected as the Chairman.
“The problems we are facing at SON, NAFDAC and in the hand of Police are because there is no leader who can champion the rights of customs agents. Police do not have the right to block our entries same with SON or NAFDAC; why this is happening is because nobody is ready to fight for agents. This is why I am coming out to serve; to lead my people,” said Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko.
Boasting on his inter-agencies relations track record, Alhaji Tanko said his administration would work with the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigeria Customs Service in the port to promote effective cargo clearance right from the Customs Processing Centre, Customs Investigation Unit to Enforcement and the Gate and the issue of multiple alerts being received by customs agents will be looked into.
Besides working with all these stakeholders to better the lots of NAGAFF members and other customs agents in the chapter, the chairmanship candidate, who is popularly called Mr Panadol, noted that his administration would evolve progressive and human capacity development programmes to empower welfare members.
Baring his mind on the nature of campaign from the opposing camp, the Niger State born chairmanship candidate said he is not bothered with the way they are going about promoting tribalism and tearing his campaign posters and banners.
On his chance of winning the election in an association perceived to be sectional in outlook, Tanko said “NAGAFF is a Nigerian project by name and action and belongs to all Nigerians irrespective of your tribe. Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, who founded the association, is a man of integrity who works with all Nigerians and never bothers where you come from. His sterling leadership quality is one of the reasons why I joined the association. Whoever is going about with campaign of tribalism is deceiving himself as all my followers cut across all tribes in the association. My focus is winning the election rather than being distracted by campaign of tribalism.”
Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, who is popularly called Mr. Panadol by his followers and admirers, said he is called the nickname because of his antecedents of having solutions to all problems that have to do with cargo clearance. He charged all NAGAFF members in the chapter to come out on the day of the election to vote for him.