BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
A purported Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has been making the round since weekend.
While feelers from the industry indicate that no decision has been taken by the relevant authorities to hold an AGM, despite having broached the matter during the peace meeting of the two factions held at the Area E Command of the Nigeria Police, Festac Town, Lagos, the purported AGM appears to have created a fresh tension that might throw spanners on the wheel of the peace process.
The undated notice of the said AGM contained in ANLCA’s letter, which was sighted by our reporter was signed by Abdulazeez Babatunde. M, as ‘National Secretary’, with the theme NOTICE OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM) 2023, which reads:
“Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) holds Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 7th February, 2023.”
Under its Main Agenda, the notice reads: “Ratification of suggested positions for permanent reconciliation of ANLCA Crisis”, while the venue was given as: “Protea Hotel Benin City, Edo State.
For attendance, it states: Strictly by all Registered up-to-date financial Corporate Company members-MD/Directors of ANLCA License in line with Section 21 Sub-Section 6”, while the conclusion reads: “Please accept the Assurance of the President.”
There are insinuations that if this AGM Notice is not a product of the joint initiative of the warring factions of the association which has publicly declared their intentions to bury the hatchet and reunite for the good of the whole, with arrangements believed to be ongoing to fine-tune all the grey areas towards finalizing the peace process; then somebody, somewhere is not sincere with the peace process.
It will be recalled that after both factions, led separately by Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha and Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, respectively, made public their resolve to settle once and for all, with information that mechanism have been put in place to perfect the settlement talks, the Secretary of the registered Board of Trustees (BoT), Prince Taiye Oyeniyi had his residence raided within days by police officers from the AIG Office Alagbon, Lagos, based on a petition said to have been written by the faction led by Dr. Taiwo Afolabi.
Speaking on the development, Prince Oyeniyi said he confronted one the gladiators in the crisis, Dr. Kayode Farinto, whose tenure as National President of ANLCA is believed to have expired since April 2022; an action he said appeared to have clarified the development as act of missup . According to him, the embattled National President assuaged his worries by saying the incident was an error, and that the police acted on a pending petition ahead of their recent resolve to put the crisis behind them.
As an integral part of the Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha led registered BoT, which is on record as having demonstrated unquestionable fidelity aimed at resolving the crisis for a long time already, Oyeniyi said he believed that Farinto was in earnest with his explanations, and averred that everyone’s focus is currently on how to drive through with the peace process.
Just before the putrid air created by the on-towards police invasion had cleared, came this controversial AGM . Can that too be said to be a coincidence or error? Those whose business it is to know say the developments are too cold for comfort. Those who spoke off record said looking at the whole scenario, there appears to be flashes of insincerity and sabotage; deliberate or otherwise.
When contacted, Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha the National President of the Interim National Executive Committee (NECOM), Mr. Pius Ujubuono disassociated themselves and their members from the controversial proposed Benin AGM.
On his part, Dr. Kayode Farinto owned up to the AGM, even as he assumed the air of the altar-ego, and described the other faction as the peace seeker, with them as the constituted authority.
He expressed shock that the other camp was being economical with the truth, even though he did not provide proof to show that the decision to schedule the said AGM was one of consensus.
He said, “I am surprised to hear this, because our agreement is that their request will be tabled at the AGM because l don’t have powers to take such decisions and if they don’t have any ulterior motives, let them come to the AGM so that we can trash the various contending issues and no one will say l have acted unilaterally, since most of their request needs the clarification and approval of the AGM.”
While some neutral members of the association say what is playing out is the display of pseudo arrogance and desperation, others think that there is a clear exhibition of uncanny plots and warned the unwary and innocent members of the association to ‘smell the coffee.’
They advised that for good faith to prevail and pervade the entire peace process, every action must be seen to be ‘collective’, since there can be no middle way. Concerns have also been expressed by some individual members of the association about the choice of Edo State as venue of the controversial AGM, noting that the whole plot smacks of the notorious trademark scheming of a chieftain of the association, who is based in Port Harcourt and controls the Eastern Zone, like Adolf Hitler once controlled Germany; and alerted that the AGM as being pushed is designed to overrun the meeting with hired delegates.
One of them who spoke in confidence with our reporter wonder why the association’s activities are hardly held within the Northern Zone, and proposed that when the final decision on the AGM has been taken, the association leaders should consider allowing the Northern Zone to either host it, or else, be held in that zone to give their members there a sense of belonging.
While an AGM remains one of the critical input both factions agreed should be convened, there was a consensus that the decision would be jointly taken, as well as other issues including the setting up of ASECO for the purpose of a general Election; designed to obliterate all vestiges of the ugly past and with a renewed hope for a brighter tomorrow, for ANLCA and its teeming members.
It will be recalled that media reports credited to Prince Oyeniyi and Abdulazeez Mukaila, presented a mutual convergence of agreement that all issues pertaining to the composition of the New BoT, ASECO, AGM would be jointly looked into and ratified.
Regardless of any such hints, common sense dictate that absolute decorum based on mutual respect is required to permeate the peace process of any warring factions. Therefore, any arbitrary action or indeed, any semblance of it immediately exposes the envisaged peace process to abuse and danger.
In the same vein, it is logical that society must frown at the faction identified with such tendencies to the contrary. Needless to advise that both factions have a moral duty to give peace a chance and to demonstrate utmost goof faith at this critical stage of their engagement, for the restoration of the soul of ANLCA.
For the purposes of reminder, here is the report of the recent engagements and positions by Daily Trend online publication, while inquiring into the recent invasion of Prince Oyeniyi’s residence and the rapprochement that followed.
The report quoted Prince Oyeniyi as also confirming that there is light at the end of the tunnel in the ANLCA Crisis. He said that both parties agreed for the Nigerian Police to approach the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to ascertain the authentic BOT of ANLCA.
The report further quoted Oyeniyi as saying that thereafter, whichever Board of Trustees is not registered by the CAC, especially with the evidence of a Status Report, shall back down and support the registered Board.
“The Police are working on the authenticity of the documentation that was forwarded to them by both parties. After this verification, there would be a pronouncement from the police and this would be the end of the problem”
“But we have agreed that ASECO would be constituted with three from our side and two from their side, the five board members here stays, while the other party brings four people to make up the board.
“Also, elections would be held with an Annual General Meeting (AGM) and not through a selection process. The NECOM election would come first.
“There is a mutual agreement now that the controversial 2020 constitution has been put to rest, the one we are adopting now is the one used to swear-in the last NECOM, this makes it better. The last move here is the status of the BOT, if this is achieved, the five year crisis is finally over” Prince Oyeniyi stated.
According to Daily tend, when he was contacted, National Secretary of the association, Alhaji Abdulazees Babatunde Mukaila noted that there were many suggestions that were made at the last peace meeting in order to ensure reconciliation.
He however said that these suggestions would be ratified at an elaborate Annual General Meeting (AGM) of ANLCA which would be called any moment from now.
“Many suggestions were made for peace and reconciliation of the crisis from both sides. However, all the suggestions acceptability or otherwise, will be ratified by general members at an imminent Annual General Meeting to be called”, Mukaila clarified”