Some leaders of thought in the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), the oldest customs agents’ association in Nigeria, have expressed regret and disappointment ever supporting Honourable Tony Iju Nwabunike to become the President of ANLCA three years ago. They stated that Nwabunike dashed the strong hope they had in him of rebranding and taking the association to a higher pedestal than Prince Olayiwola Shittu, the immediate past president of ANLCA, but plunged the association into crisis over who becomes the chairman of ANLCA Board of Trustee (BOT).
They noted that if President Tony Iju Nwabunike had diplomatically and maturely handled the BOT leadership tussle, the tussle would not have unsettled ANLCA and customs brokerage would not have nosedived into the appalling state it is now. But he fell short of their expectation by displaying a high level of naïve, high-headedness, and nepotism in the handling of the matter and with the way he is running the association missing leadership and administration together.
In an interview with PortNews in Apapa, Lagos, one of the leaders, Honourable Sunday Nwarinme, Deputy Chairman of PTML Port Chapter of ANLCA, said that Iju Nwabunike as ANLCA President has let Igbo extraction of the association down with the way and manner he runs the association, which has failed to resolve the BOT crisis.
Honourable Sunday Nwarinme said they expected that Honourable Tony Iju Nwabunike, just immediately after he won the election, to bring all political camps in the association into one fold and use them to run his presidency but never did so rather fighting opposing camp and busy doing his masters’ bid to install them permanently as the BOT leaders against the electoral wish of the BOT.
Nwarinme maintained that if Nwabunike had exhibited the high spirit of leadership as the president of the association like his predecessor Prince Olayiwola Shittu did by not missing leadership with an administration, ANLCA would not be in crisis which has prevented it from dispensing its constitutional responsibilities to its members and the industry.
He noted that customs brokerage is going through difficult times now with various tasking and inimical policies being turned out by the Central Bank of Nigeria, an unjust increase of charges by terminals and shipping companies, and unbridle corrupt acts of some unscrupulous customs officers. He said it is sad that there is no ANLCA leader insight to speak for importers, its members and other customs agents against this injustice.
“Mr. Tony Iju Nwabunike is naïve and nepotism in the running of ANLCA. We voted him hoping that he would rebrand ANLCA with innovative ideas and take it higher than where Prince Olayiwola Shittu handed over to him. Since assumed office, ANLCA has been riddled with a leadership crisis over his failure to recognize Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha as the elected Chairman of the Board. This is not what we bargained for when we voted him as the ANLCA President.
“Can you imagine an association like ours battling six court cases at a time? It has never happened in ANLCA but is so under Nwabunike. How can he function as a president? Can we say Igbo made a mistake by electing Nwabunike? This man has let Igbo leaders of thought and members in the association down,” said Nwarinme, who pointed out that the crisis is also being fueled by other sister associations to pull ANLCA down for them to gain recognition.
Proferring possible solution to the crisis, the PTML Deputy Chairman said that Iju Nwabunike is too tricky; he must come with a human face and must be ready to make sacrifices by recognizing the rightful leaders of the BOT. He added that he must stop listening to some disgruntle followers in the association who feast on the crisis
Nwarinme maintained that he must be ready to receive the olive branches extended to him by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, the elected BOT Chairman, and Comrade John Oforbike, the Chairman of Western Zone of ANLCA. He noted that these gentlemen had made spirited efforts to come to the table with Tony Iju Nwabunike in a bid to settle the matter but being tricky in his approach, Nwabunike scuttled the efforts.
“Iju Nwabunike must stop recognizing his BOT factional leader and recognize the rightful BOT Chairman Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha. Mustapha and Oforbike have made efforts to settle the matter but scuttled by Nwabunike. He is the problem of the crisis in ANLCA today by keep listening to some disgruntle officials and elements in the association. He must be ready to make sacrifices. We are praying that we all see reasons to come together to solve the problem as many things are going wrong in the industry because we don’t have leaders,” Nwarinme submitted, saying that ANLCA President’s presence in the ports causes nothing but fomenting trouble.