Achievements of ANLCA’s Prince Olayiwola Shittu that Confounded, Ruffled Feathers

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 With the first tenure of the Prince Olayiwola Shittu-led National Executive Committee (NECOM) gradually coming to an end in a couple of day’s time, questions of the desirability or otherwise of the achievements-laden NECOM returning for a second tenure have been marred by perfidious mischief makers.

It is only in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) that hard workers/achievers are being given sleepless nights, instead of the “carry go” syndrome playing out.         Even if one or two elements within NECOM are detested, should the leader and arrowhead of the team be harangued like a common felon, who has not worked so much to attain so much for ANLCA, disrespecting the vividly-visible, solid achievements, great respect for ANLCA, professionalism, welfare/insurance cover for members, international affiliations/recognitions, temporary, and now permanent secretariat, biometric database, and the acquisition of Customs licenses for at least thirty members, and still ongoing, etc?

For you all to appreciate where we are now, in sharp contrast with what the current NECOM met, on assumption of office on the 17th of April, 2010, a little information will suffice here.

Within one week of the election of the outgoing NECOM, one of the promises of the National President – getting a befitting National Secretariat was accomplished. This was done in order to begin to lay structures for the proper administration of ANLCA. The most confounding revelation is the fact that there were no records, upon which the NECOM could begin to function.        Virtually anything that could be said to constitute administrative structures, were absent. Even bank account booklets, statements were nowhere to be found. Upon this discovery, the Prince Shittu-led NECOM resolved to chart a new course, to begin to assemble all structures, at a very fast pace.

Immediately these structures were taking shape, the inherited, demoralised staff surfaced. They were rationalised /retained. They had to be retrained, to refocus on the mission and vision of the newly elected NECOM then.

Of course, virtually all licensed Customs agents know, back then, Customs treated agents with great disdain, disrespect and seen as without honour or integrity. Compliance was at its lowest ebb. Professionalism took a long flight away from ANLCA. The morale of agents was absent completely. In short, it was a hopeless situation for clearing agents, especially those in ANLCA. No official vehicles for the Secretariat and staff. No recognition for agents’ role locally, regionally or internationally. No capacity building for members of the Association.       ANLCA was then losing members to other sister-organisations by the day, weeks and months, especially during elections periods

No meetings, either at the chapters or national levels were convened, not to talk of its regularity. And, without these meetings, how can issues bordering on members’ welfare and operational challenges be resolved?

All these were part of the situation met on ground on the assumption of office of the current NECOM, whose tenure officially expires on the 16th of April, 2014.

As stated above, the collaborative, cooperative, negotiating, persuasive approach to governance, embarked upon, especially by Prince Shittu, has made the preponderance of visible, solid and sustained achievements possible. With the secured National Secretariat in place, regular meetings were convened to discuss the challenges encountered by members in their day-to-day operations. There was virtually no week that passed in the almost 209 weeks of this tenure that at least one meeting is not held at the National Secretariat, in the Western Zone, Eastern Zone and the Northern Zone.

The results of these meetings with members and their executives is the general awareness of activities of ANLCA, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

It is safe to note, therefore, that room for rumour-mongering and doubtful disposition, was not permitted. That aside, confirming occurrences was as easy as a call or text to any of the National or Chapters executives, whose contacts are public knowledge.

With the same governance style, NECOM engaged several sister-organisations in discussions, with a view to carrying them along, to speak with one voice, for the benefit of the industry’s progress. NECOM also engaged other major stakeholders in meetings, including the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Seaports Terminals Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO), etc, with the sole aim of enlightening and educating them of the posture of ANLCA, while demanding for their cooperation in sanitising the freight forwarding business.

Regular meetings were also encouraged at the chapter levels, to the extent that reports of such meetings were sent to the National Secretariat. Chapters in default were sanctioned, as discipline crept back to ANLCA fold, because of the leadership style of the Prince Olayiwola Shittu-led NECOM.

It may surprise members and onlookers to note that the total commitment to the course of ANLCA’s greatness, as demonstrated by each and every member of NECOM, is to the extent that everyone took the service as a daily job that was done selflessly without any remuneration. This determination and single minded focus has made it possible to build the capacity of members by requesting them to go for training and upgrades, in order to improve on their jobs delivery.

ANLCA’s NECOM has been able to extract sponsorships from some stakeholders to enable our members attend courses abroad, which have greatly enriched their knowledge base and expanded their business networks. All these have culminated into the recognition of ANLCA as the Best Customs Brokers’ Association in Africa, guaranteed ANLCA’s/ Nigeria’s membership of the prestigious International Federation of Customs Brokers’ Association (IFCBA), sustainably rising compliance and integrity levels, and becoming the toast of the Presidency and National Assembly.

ANLCA is seen now as a must-join organisation. Those who left in the past, due to misunderstanding, are gradually and quietly making their ways back. Unlike in the past, when aggrieved election losers leave ANLCA to join other sister-organisations, it is worthy of note that since this NECOM took office, several elections have been held. There were winners. There we losers. Importantly, none decamped over the outcome of these elections. Instead, they stayed back to cooperate with winners, to make ANLCA greater.

The icing on the ANLCA’s NECOM cake is the purchase of an imposing edifice, in a choice location of Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, to house ANLCA’s permanent National Secretariat. This, coming after almost 60 years of the existence of ANLCA, speaks volumes of the dedication, commitment and determination of the current NECOM to bring honour to ANLCA and its entire membership.

Now, some of the achievements stated herein, seems to have fuelled a blind envy in some members, to the extent that they forget that all these signposts or milestones belong to all and not the persons constituting NECOM. Why are they so angry about these achievements, which are meant to make every member proud to belong to this profession?

Any discerning mind seeing all that is happening now, against the Prince Shittu-led NECOM, would wonder what is wrong with us in ANLCA. For a NECOM that is able to, within 24 months of its 48-month mandate, deliver on its 10-point promise, deserves to be returned unopposed, to consolidate on its achievements and do more for the benefit of members and their dependants.

There is a lot more work to be done. Any distraction, therefore, is capable of disorganising or stopping the tempo/momentum of the NECOM team. All that is expected of NECOM is to do more, especially in securing majority of clearing jobs for our members, acquiring more Customs licenses for our members, bigger Insurance/ welfare packages for our members, more foreign trips/businesses for our members, expanding our common wealth, etc, is to shun all entreaties to cause constitutional confusion which will benefit only some disgruntled elements within our fold. It is high time for members to open their eyes and confirm these achievements listed above and claim it, because it is done in the name of ANLCA, to which every member is entitled.

Let all of us decide to sustain the developmental and progressive ideals and efforts of the current NECOM, by ensuring that they are returned unfettered, unruffled, back for a second tenure.

Any error of omission or commission could spell doom for ANLCA. Everyone, at least majority, seems happy with current happenings in ANLCA. We must ensure that the status quo remains. Indeed, one good term deserves another for a TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) that has achieved beyond expectations within a “twinkle of an eye”.

May the Good Lord direct all of us, as appropriate. Amen!

Mr. Joe Sanni is Senior Special Assistant to the National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA). He wrote from Lagos.

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