Nweke Laments ANLCA Prolong Leadership Schism
Says Foreign Interests Taking Over Industry Amid Unwarranted Egotistic Wranglings
BY EGUINO ODJEGBA
Former President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke has expressed dismay over the protracted crisis in the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), which he said was caused by leadership wrangling, noting that the over three years crisis is as disappointing as it was avoidable and unwarranted.
He described the ANLCA leadership standoff not only as a blight of freight forwarding profession but a direct assault on ANLCA’s members who he said have been neglected and shortchanged, as well as deprived of the benefits accruable from being members of the association.
Nweke lamented that while leadership of freight forwarding and customs brokerage associations are busy flexing muscles and fighting one another, foreign players are operators in the industry are digging deeper and making spoils of the abundance of available opportunities.
The erudite freight forwarding practitioner said he refuse to sit on the fence and be a spectator, noting that it was time for people of goodwill to speak the truth and get the warring factions to toe the path of peace for the interest of their numerous members and the interest of the larger freight community, which he said is been negatively tainted by the ugly protracted crisis.
In a statement made available to this newspaper, Nweke said it was time for ANLCA Board and the National Executive to bury the hatchet and embrace one another in genuine and permanent gesture through leadership compromises to end the crisis.
In doing that, he said it will upset natural justice to gloss over the ugly spots while not necessarily apportioning blame; but that calling attention to the sore points in the crisis will help put issues in their perspective, hopefully to forestall recurrence and for posterity.
The statement titled ‘ANLCA LEADERSHIP QUAGMIRE – A TOTAL DERAILMENT OF PROFESSIONAL FORTUNES – ( Being A Post Easter Message Of Peace To The Leadership Of The Oldest Freight Forwarding Association In Nigeria)’ Nweke called for the restoration of its statute books and constitution that is legal, dependable, applicable and defensible.
The statement reads: “I have serious professional cause and interests to revisit the above subject, following my two earlier statements all pleading with the actors to jaw jaw, break bread together, shift grounds for each other, be accommodative, bury the differences, show capacity for tolerance as leaders; doing so for the interest of the Association and the profession.
“Unfortunately, the quagmire persisted and now its consequences to the profession have become unbearable. This press statement is not aimed at romancing issues but to call a spade a spade that this misunderstanding has been taken too far. And shall say things borrowing from the words of our dear President, H.E. Mohammed Buhari – GCFR: “I am for nobody, but I am for everybody”. This is against the background that, all the Actors involved in this leadership quagmire are respectable good friends, some are very senior professional colleagues, above all, successful chief executive officers and leaders in their (own) rights.
“Notwithstanding, it is time to speak to the kings, without sounding immodest, but for posterity sake choose words that will reawaken our leadership consciousness and responsibilities to the led. Four years ago, when the ANLCA leadership tussle reared its ugly head, looking at the array of successful chief executives of viable companies, who by professional inclination and association was brought together, to use their wealth of experiences to chart a new progressive course and add impetus to the freight forwarding profession and practitioners, I rested my confidence on the words of this two visionary leaders and writers:
“Lord Byron noted that: “Adversity is the first path to truth”, while Francis Beaumont equally noted that: “Calamity is a man’s true touchstone “. With this in mind, it implies that any aspiring executive will certainly face one crisis or obstacles in the course of showing leadership or administering the organization.
“Generally, what is expected of such executives under such circumstances is not only thoughts of how to cope with the adversity but how he or they are able to turn the Adversity to corporate advantage.”
Nweke expressed disappointment that this has not been the case between the current ANLCA’s Board of Trustees (BoT) and the National Executive Committee (NECOM).
“I have been astonished and worried that this crisis have persisted till now, I resorted to do a further private review and probe why these crop of experienced and successful chief executives must tow the path of endless destruction of corporate association image and professional integrity, with its attendant consequence on the practicing members, and yet going about unperturbed.”
“First I discovered that even though ANLCA has this array of high calibre of chief executives which any professional setting can boast of, but judging from their individual and collective actions and events that have unfolded so far cannot claim to love ANLCA; cannot genuinely convince anyone at the moment, that they have cargo interest in their hearts (which is the first attraction into the world of global trade and logistics).
“Neither can they honestly beat their chest and pride themselves that they are passionate about this noble profession itself, especially so, in the face of the prevailing hardship which practitioners are going through in the supposedly port value adding supply chain, caused by inadequately committed professional leadership directions, even as the elected chief executives are working at across purposes.
“Today, we are back to the era where the practitioners are now helplessly running from pillar to post, professionals has now turned to beggars in a supply chain where they are ideally the strongest link and nucleus that drives other links in the international trade safety and supply chain management.
“Today, many professionals have passed on, some on sick bed, many hopeless, on account of excessive executive ulcers and avoidable pressure, all because, elected chief executives resort to compromise and sacrifice their corporate professional integrity, wellbeing and interests on the altar of egocentrism, undue pride and self seeking adventures.
“Without prejudice or intent to insult the personality of any of these chief executives, I discovered that among the ANLCA status books, apart from some sections of the constitution, non of its books has comprehensive “code of professional conduct” as an extant book of executive guide.
“To this end, it is obvious to posit that, ” ANLCA Corporate Stake, pursuance to its corporate mission and vision is not adequately defined, as such whatever that constitutes the ANLCA corporate interests is perhaps as crafted or intended by a particular leader or presiding chief executives.”
He continue: “Here again, I also observed that, professional association leadership logics is often in contention with professional leadership ideology. This usually plays out often, as obvious evidence in practical terms abounds- In most instances, chief executives does see themselves as trade unions leaders today and tomorrow parades themselves as professional advocacy /lobby group. This is a major confusion in corporate outlook and mindset amongst the Associations, not limited to ANLCA.
“Furthermore, I observed that Association interests in relation to the basic principles or the essence of Association is always a battle for professional membership increase, enhance relevance, improvement of professional wellness, professional effectiveness via strong representations and efficiency via visionary and selfless leadership delivery, which is anchored on the principles of “WE” ( Team work ) and not “I’ ( Individualistic).”
He provided a check list of what leaders ought to do during crisis period, one of which is relentlessness is seeking solution and been open to ideas and compromises.
“This Association basic leadership principle appears to me as being skipped or not deeply grasped by most of the chief executives, judging from their antics and unremorseful posture. In a crisis time, what do the chief executives do? This is one question a proactive leadership puts on the check list scale. And what a proactive leader does during crisis is very simple.
“The Executive leader don’t allow crisis to overwhelm him. He weighs the possible outcome of the crisis, then take action to change the course of event to prevent disaster. When crisis seems getting beyond expectations, a leader don’t panic, nor resolve to fight dirty, rather he conquers fear and double his sense of proportion and fair reaction.
“ In the face of crisis, humility, patience and being focus is key, the executive leader does not react unreasonably or irrationally neither snarl, nor squander his efforts in the wrong direction, or striking back blindly, etc. The executive leader does not look for who to blame rather he sees self as the man of the moment and as such takes responsibility.
“In the face of crisis, an executive leader stands courageous, reliable, unflinchingly and see crisis as an avenue to solve problems as they arise. He preoccupies his mind, thinking solely in terms of plugging holes in the dike. He builds stronger dike if the situation permits it.”
Nweke’s prognosis also provided tips on what leaders should do when he needed to be defensive during crisis situation.
“In crisis situation, an executive leader understands when best to deploy counter attack, as means of defense. He opts for counter attack having weighed the options, taking stock and re-strategizing in order not to defeat set goals or record casualties in the process.
“Executives understands this rare virtues and functions of the chief executive leader, but allows themselves to be overwhelmed by the activities of spectators ( aka supporters) and their usual gossips of “they say, them say!!” an act they term as being loyal. Worst still, the executives had suddenly forgotten that they were all good friends prior to the election and now failed to see selves as same people joined together by professional inclination and voluntary association-ship courtesy of ANLCA.
“Suddenly, passion to serve professional colleagues is now misplaced, as undefined interests take a center stage, tearing them apart, to the extent of almost destroying the corporate fabrics of the great Association. By their actions and inactions, some members or practitioners who looked up to them have passed on and the industry is nothing but a shadow of itself.
“Let me also say to them, that from my over 30 years of association involvement and crisis management, experience has shown that, no normal court setting anywhere in the world has successfully resolved association leadership crisis or matter, rather it elongates the peace process and widen its division. But alternate dispute resolutions -ADR (which represents an out of court settlement) does so in most cases, very successfully.”
Apparently concerned and genuinely agitated, Nweke admonished leaders to reapply themselves to the dictum of WE as a collective for their actions and inactions in dealing with association matters.
“If I may ask an innocent question, what interests are we truly projecting and protecting, is it “WE OR I?” How long do we continue in this tussle while foreigners daily take over our profession in collusion with some shipping and terminal service providers and the agencies of the government are taking our members for granted?”
He worried that those in leadership today by their conduct are not leaving legacies worthy of emulation and history.
“Gentlemen, none of us has monopoly of tomorrow, as tomorrow is pregnant. Let us resolve here and now to bury our ego and pride. Let’ us build and focus on developing our profession collectively and empower our teeming professional colleagues (members).
“God gives leadership powers for service unto humanity. Four years is winding up, can you all sincerely say to yourselves that, you have collectively achieved your corporate goals?
“To the past leaders of ANLCA at all levels who kept mute and watch the Association continuously derailing , I say with due respect, that collectively, your desirous wealth of experiences and wisdom was seriously lacking in this matter, more so, when it matters most.
Nweke waxed philosophical in concluding his intervention as he said: “Finally, none of us is perfect. As such, let us for once advice ourselves. Let us look at each other, eye ball to eye ball, and tender with a soft brotherly tone mea copa – mea copa ( I have ailed you have ailed me), let’s think about ANLCA, let’s think about our profession and let’s think about our professional colleagues/members.”