Reactions have trailed the recent declaration by Prince Ozo Chukwurah that he will contest for the post of Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) in next year’s (2018) national elections.
Ozo had recently declared himself available for the office of the Vice President while rubbishing the unwritten constitution that expects the next President to come from the Eastern part of Nigeria after the incumbent President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu from Western Nigeria relinquishes power at the expiration of his tenure in 2018. He had argued that the presidency is available for Nigerians from all parts of the country to contest. “Who stops a Yoruba man or an Hausa man from contesting? ANLCA is an association of equals, it is a level playing field where every bonafide agent can contest”, Ozo had noted.
But in his reaction, a chieftain of ANLCA and one–time Chairman of KLT chapter of the association, Mr Aloy Anokwuru decried Prince Chukuwurah’s Vice Presidency aspirations as divisive and an attempt to scuttle the Igbo’s valid plans to assume the presidency of ANLCA. “Ozo cannot contest as the VP in ANLCA because the position of the President is for Igbo in the next term. Ozo is Igbo and we can’t have Igbo as President and Vice President at the same time. It is an old arrangement which all ANLCA leaders and elders respect,” he noted.
Anokwuru also debunked Ozo’s postulation that an agent can be a member of ANLCA and also be a member of the nascent International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) since, according to Ozo the two bodies are complementary in aims and objectives.
To Anokwuru, Ozo is an active member of IFFA which has chapters in customs commands much like ANLCA. “Ozo is not even constitutionally qualified to contest for any post in ANLCA because he has not been active in ANLCA for more than 12 months. Whereas he has been very prominent in IFFA in recent years and you can’t hold positions here and there together. Even if he collects form for ANLCA position he will be disqualified.”
Prince Ozo Chukwurah had averred that eminent members of ANLCA are active members of IFFA for years and mentioned Sir Ernest Elochukwu, Tedius Ifezue, Dr Emma Oparah, Barrister Ada Akpunonu, Chief Peter Obih, Dr John Oforbike among others as belonging to the two bodies. However, Anokwuru observed that whereas Ozo had not been active in ANLCA, the personalities he mentioned were active and visible members of ANLCA. “Oforbike and the people he mentioned are active members of ANLCA who are happy to be, and have been associated with the association for many years,” he noted.
Anokwuru also disagreed with the insinuations by Ozo that Prince Olayiwola Shittu, the ANLCA President is a tribalist. He affirmed that Prince Shittu is a selfless, large hearted and totally detribalized personality.” I didn’t expect this from Ozo, he should have grown above this, he’s somebody Shittu respects too. Our President respects both the young and the old. Invite him to a function in any part of Nigeria, he will be there. He humbles himself yet people are not appreciative.”
“Ozo should appreciate Shittu for what he has done for the association and the profession. I served under Ozo, Shittu, Olatunde and with my 35 years in the industry, think I’m in a position to know a little better, explained Anokwuru.
Anokwuru poured encomiums on the ANLCA President. “Shittu provided leadership. Under him ANLCA prospered and a lot of people prospered. He took the association to enviable heights. Others before him, save Elochukwu, didn’t do much. He used his personal money to get more than fifty new licenses for agents at PTML and Tincan ports, while he helped others to renew their licenses. He also used his personal money to run the association and sent members on courses abroad.
Anokwuru said that, everything being equal, Prince Ozo Chukwurah would have come tops in ANLCA Presidential election because of his qualities. “Ozo was very active and committed to ANLCA, but inexplicably, he chose to stay away from ANLCA. Considering his contributions to ANLCA, he would have won the election as the president hands down, but now he’s not qualified to contest,” declared the KLT strong man.
Anokwuru expressed regret on the redundancy of the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal and blamed it on the poor state of the Apapa Wharf road. “When I took over as chairman of ANLCA KLT in 2010, I worked with the Customs Area Controller, Akinloye and revived the place. We got containers transferred there with all the terminals back to business. The road wasn’t this bad then. Government must repair the road and clear off the tankers. If the road is good people would bring containers back to KLT, while barges can also be used to transfer containers from Tincan port to KLT, as Brawal used to do,” he submitted.