The political atmosphere of the 2023 election of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) peaked earlier today as Mr. Emenike Nwokeoji and Segun Oduntan flagged off their presidential campaign at the Amusement Park, GRA Apapa Lagos, with colourful endorsements stakeholders.
The presidential campaign which commenced with consultations with critical stakeholders including Oodua Maritime Forum, Association of Igbo Maritime Practitioners in Nigeria (ASIMPIN) and the Edo Maritime Forum, elicited joy as the above groups says their entry into the leadership contest of the association holds promise for definite change and fresh vista in the effort to revive ANLCA.
Speaking during his visit to the President General of ASIMPIN, His Royal Majesty, Eze Damian Obianigwe, Emenike said that in accordance with the laid down doctrine of the association, it is the turn of Igbos to field the presidential candidate, and solicited his support in not only helping to uphold the norm but to also to support his candidacy.
The respected and accomplished customs broker faulted the process been driven by the leadership of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding I’m Nigeria (CRFFN), even as he said violation of the power rotational arrangement that has guaranteed political stability in the past could result into instability and further hurt the already troubled association.
“When the BOT members at the CRFFN AGM decided to chose a Yoruba man as the BOT Chairman, this automatically means that the next President would not come from the Yoruba tribe. The second group was not there when this was done, so it means that it is the turn of the Igbos.
“If you are coming out of a crisis of five years, the first thing to be placed on the front burners is to conduct the chapter elections and let the peace start from there. By the time the peace at the chapters must have been established, we would have the collegiate that we would use for the national elections.
“They are trying to hold NECOM elections first in order to allow people that are seating there illegally to transit into the new administration, it is unfortunate that some people still want to support this illegality despite all the realities on ground.”
Responding, President General of ASIMPIN, Eze Damian Obianigwe
assured of his support, even as he grated them his blessings.
“It is God that gives power, l have no power to make anyone President. ANLCA is the only house that we have, it is the mother of all associations, the moment we get it right in ANLCA, we have gotten all things right in the maritime sector, may God give us a good leader, a listening leader, one that would take us to the promised land.
“Emenike is a brother to me and we are from the same village, if he was a woman, I would have married him, I have been to his house four times, and I must have love for you before I can do that. There are many things I ought to say but I would not say them openly”, he said
During his visit to and consultation with Oodua Maritime Group led by its President, Chief Oye Ariyo, Nwokeoji expressed dismay about what he described as absence of leadership in the association in the past fifteen months, despite having people supposedly in acting capacity; and urged members to vote people who can navigate the industry, reposition ANLCA and to deliver on expectations.
“The leadership we need now is the one that has competence, character, we need a leader that has clout, and can command respect among the key stakeholders that we are relating with, which is the Nigerian customs service, not to start attacking and abusing them.
“We were able to build the bridge of relationship during Shittu tenure that we engage with senior officers, including DCG’s and ACG’s, where we have our meetings. At a time the then CGC ordered them to remain in our event until the end. But today, our so called leaders would visit an assistant controller and be happy to take pictures, then, who would take us to the CG and Ministers?”, he asked rhetorically, adding:
“The slogan of this campaign is restoration, we need to restore peace in the association, there is no dignity anymore in the association that can make you call yourself a clearing agent, we want restore it. There is no integrity anymore”, he said
Also speaking, the Vice Presidential candidate, Prince Segun Oduntan alleged that there are certain illegalities being carried out secretly to ensure that another group emerge winner in the coming election.
“Presently, there are attempts to manipulate the election by gathering fake names and cloned licenses. We are aware of all their antics and what the ASECO is doing.
“But I want to warn them that, they must ensure that there is equity and justice in the association election.”
Vice President of Oodua Maritime Group, Mr Ojo Akintoye while addressing the campaign train and the mammoth turnout urged contestants to exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship in the coming election.
He said, “From now till the end of this election, let us stop intimidating ourselves. There was a time in the history of this association that we were represented even at Aso Rock, however, to claim that you are an ANLCA member today is now a thing of shame.”
He prayed and expressed the hope that the team that would take the association to next level should Nwokeoji/Fountain win the election.
Also speaking,, Chairman of the Igbo Maritime Elders, Chief Austen Kelly called for restoration of peace at the various chapters before the NECOM election is conducted.
He said “Everybody knows that Emenike is more experienced than Farinto for this position, we must elect people based on merit, we don’t want political bandits as president of ANLCA, we must all go out and vote for somebody who can lead us”
Speaking at various times during his consultation, the Presidential aspirant, Emenike Nwokeoji faulted the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) for the role it played in resolving the five year crisis in ANLCA.
He accused CRFFN of bias during the crisis by listening to only one faction in the crisis.
He also opined that rather than holding the National Executive Committee (NECOM) election first, what CRFFN should have done was to support the chapter elections as the first step towards achieving peace, but said since the general election timetable has been announced, the CRFFN should espouse neutrality and ensure that the process is free of fraudulent interferences.