Fano Group Chairman Seeks God’s Intervention in ANLCA’s Crisis
…As Asso Felicitates With Him On Receipt of Staff of Office
BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
Chairman, Fano Group of Companies, HRM, Ambassador, Eze Damian E. Obianigwe has received the Staff of Office as the Ezeoha 1 Obi of Isi-Ihite Owerri, from Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
HRM disclosed above weekend when he hosted a faction of the leadership of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) led by Dr. Kayode Farinto, at his Fano Bonded Terminal premises, Amuwo-Odofin Lagos.
Responding to questions from select journalists in his office on the invitation of his visitors to intervene in the ongoing ANLCA leadership crisis, Ambassador Obianigwe said that although he has given his word to wade in and is committed to doing so, he however noted that “only God can settle ANLCA’s crisis.”
He said Staff of Office handing over ceremony which took place at Government House Owerri on 4th February 2022 was well attended by top business executives, distinguished community members and government functionaries.
Speaking on the event and what his community is doing to support the state government in terms of the widespread insecurity, ascribed synergy as the only tool to defeating the current state of insecurity.
“By the grace of God, His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma granted me Staff of Office on February 2, 2022. We are always meeting and synergizing with the government, which is the only approach to defeating current spate of insecurity.
“My community is peaceful, irrespective of things happening in the South East, there is no rancor, no problem, so l thank God that l have no issue with anybody. As for youths’ development, the government of His Excellency is doing what is necessary to encourage all and sundry.
“There is no alternative to hard work, hard work pays and every other thing is just an addition, our youths are industrious, and we all know that there is no short cut to success except hard work.”
Asked to compare present day business atmosphere and challenges with what obtained a decade and half ago, HRH said there is no basis for comparison, noting that the circumstances are entirely, different.
“There is world economic meltdown and if any man with his normal senses tells you that business is as usual, he lies. Business in the whole world has dropped, so there is no way you can make comparison, fifteen years ago and now can’t be the same.
“If you check what exchange rate was then and today, you can see that the difference is as long from here to America”, he boomed in his unique bass voice.
The traditional ruler said even though it is customary to continue to engage with various stakeholders, as custodians of tradition, he will not allow himself to be dragged to the level of what is unacceptable or comment too deeply about political issues; but rather to join hands in making Nigeria better for everyone.
He also parried questions on warehousing and bonded terminals, where he has huge investments, when asked about private bonded warehouses.
“Bonded terminal business issues are just like any other business, there are ups and downs in business. Sometimes, you see it go this way, at other times; it goes the other way, so it has not been easy to operate bonded terminals.
“Operation of bonded terminals is as old as CEMA; it is not twenty years ago, it is as old as customs excise. But private bonded terminals became necessary when the issues of seaports congestions emerged. President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 or 2000 in his wisdom asked the major players to go and borrow money in the bank and ensure that the ports are decongested.
“Some of us who did that, we know what we suffered, you know what Nigerian banks are in terms of busines, and government policies, and all not what. So it has been bad, but we thank God. You can see how deserted this place is, if it was full of roses, containers would have filled the place.
“Government policies have not been favourable to us, sometimes these policies don’t favour private participation, but l think that one day, government may remember us.”
Commenting on freight forwarders dissatisfaction with the introduction NAC 15% Levy which was subsequently replaced with CET 15% (ECOWAS Common External Tariff), the royal father said that the Nigeria Customs Service is as much a victim of the system like customs agents and freight forwarders. He however lamented that prevailing import policies are anti-trade.
“Well Customs is just an arm of government under the Ministry of Finance. The NAC 15% Levy is a witch-hunt policy to people in automobile business because adding the 15% to the 35% paid before now, that means they are paying 50%. If a car you were clearing with N600,000 is going to cost N2.5million, where are you going to sell it?
“The policy is indirectly making the rich to become richer, and the poor to become poorer. My advice is for government should remove the NAC 15% and ensure that business returns to normal, because the exchange rate is not friendly.”
On the resolution of ANLCA crisis, he said, “There is a simple approach, the moment all of us come together, the crisis will fizzle out. It is a man made crisis, God will solve it, there’s nothing God cannot do.”
On how he intend to broker peace and advance resolution of the association’s crisis, he said, “I have given them my word, but you know, you can take the horse to the stream, you cannot force it to drink water. I will do as much as l can as a leader, any other thing depends on how God wants it to work. May God grant our efforts and make it to work, because I have given them my word, and l will do my best, as a human being.”
Ambassador Obianigwe dismissed the recent plan by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) to reconstitute Igbo Maritime Forum and make it more functional as idle talk.
“You have misquoted them, they said Igbo Maritime Forum, we are not Igbo Maritime Forum, and they are not members of Association of Igbo Maritime Practitioners In Nigeria, ASIMPN, so that is irrelevant talk”, adding that ASIMPN is on ground and working.
Earlier, the Fano Terminal boss treated ANLCA members who came to felicitate with him over the official handing over of Staff of office by His Excellency Chief Hope Uzodinma , were treated to a carnival like reception, as food and drinks flowed, with everybody in a mood of merriment , and spirit of chivalry.
Terminal Manager of Fano Group of Companies, Princesses Theresa Orieh on behalf of the group’s entire staff, joined in the celebration, describing their chairman as a rare Gem and tower of strength and aspiration.