By Wale Oni
One-time Chairman of the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) Chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Mallam Usman Baba has blamed the nascent trend of countless maritime trade associations to selfishness and the winner-takes-all mentality. He also alleged anti-North characteristics in ANLCA.
“The associations are many nowadays because of failings of leadership. Once you win and become ANLCA Chapter chairman or even the National President, the people that helped, worked night and day to ensure your victory are neglected or out-rightly sent packing for new friends,” explained Malam Usman Baba who traced the origin of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) to the feud between the then ANLCA President, Mr. Peter Eloka Okocha and Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, his kingmaker.
According to Baba, Aniebonam felt sidelined by the Okocha administration and decided to found NAGAFF. He noted that history has repeated itself with Ojo Akintoye transmuting to be TinCan Chairman of the International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) after he was abandoned by ANLCA.
“Ojo Akintoye should have been invited by ANLCA leadership for reconciliation and reintegration but nobody remembered him after he spent fortunes contesting for ANLCA TinCan Chairmanship which he lost,” said Baba.
Alhaji Usman Baba took a swipe at leaders of ANLCA for their ‘parochial and sectional tendencies’ as regards the constitution of leadership positions in the association which he said has sidelined the Northern part of Nigeria.
“If you look at ANLCA, they have no respect for national equation. All their committees are made up of Southerners and Southern calculations. For them, the North does not exist as far as customs clearing and forwarding is concerned. Whereas there are many successful clearing and forwarding companies owned by Northerners,” he lamented.
Alhaji Baba who is the managing director of Lungwu Nigeria Limited observed that ANLCA only recognizes him as a financial member recalling that his last dealing with the association was when he contributed money to the building of ANLCA National Secretariat at Amuwo Odofin, Lagos.
“I contributed a lot in the building of the secretariat, why can’t they reach out to me so we work together to build the association? Is it because am from the North? ” asked Baba who holds the enviable record of being the first agent to collect PAAR from the bank. “The form No: 001 bears my name. You can confirm from the CAC of TinCan Customs Command, Comptroller Yusuf Bashar who was in charge of PAAR in the CG Dikko administration.
The longstanding freight forwarder advised the younger ones who take up the profession as a career to first acquire good education in the field which is a prerequisite to a successful practice.
“You have to be trained professionally because the job is very technical and intellectually demanding. Our youth nowadays just want to make money quick. You see an agent who cannot defend an SGD; you should know about tariff, classification, basics of the job… If customs puts an alert on SGD, while you are trying to defend the young agent, he goes panicky behind you to negotiate his way out, this is due to a lack of good education, good training and it is very saddening,” noted Usman Baba who worked for many years as Head of Operations for the freight forwarding giant, Slok Group.