ANLCA (Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents) has come this far, from the doldrums it was in, over four years ago, to be respected, recognised the world over, trusted and generally seen now, as a reliable partner in the onward march towards a facilitated cargo clearance environment.
This feat was achieved through the dedicated, focused and visionary NECOM (National Executive Committee) which is eminently led by the indefatigable and amiable National President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu. He has ensured that veritable structures are put in place, and all of them functioning maximally. Despite all these verifiable achievements, it is disheartening to note that some few elements are hell bent on reversing the laudable achievements of the Prince Olayiwola Shittu-led administration.
The Association Electoral Commission (ASECO) has, by publications in the print and electronic media, email and by text messages, informed the public of the lifting of ban on electioneering campaigns, since January 15th, 2014, into the National Executive Committee offices of the National President, National Vice-President, National Secretary, Assistant National Secretary, National Financial Secretary, National Treasurer and National Publicity Secretary.
These publications were done in conformity with the provisions of the Supreme Constitution of ANLCA- Section 22 (2) b- which states: “in case of the National Executive Committee, the Chairman of ASECO shall by a publication made three months before the expiration of the National officers’ tenure, lift ban for campaigns into the various offices.” The spirit and intent of this provision is the declaration for those interested in such yet to be vacant offices to feel free to canvass for votes from an already established voters list, taking a cue from the last exercise on April 17, 2010, at Concorde Hotel, Owerri, the Imo State, where the electoral college system was adopted. As a living witness, all elected chapters’ executives, some selected elders and BOT (Board of Trustees) members participated in the election of the current NECOM. There is nowhere else that the structure or composition of voters is stated in the Supreme Constitution of ANLCA, as amended, like it was specifically mentioned, in the case of BOT elections- where it was specifically stated in Section 13 (4)(a): “A person shall be elected a trustee of the Association at the Annual general meeting of the Association duly convened for that purpose.”
The operative/keywords are: Annual general meeting, duly convened for that purpose (BOT election purpose). Without formally amending the constitution to incorporate the composition of voters that should take part in the forth coming NECOM election, it will be foolhardy to intentionally want to stall the electioneering process now, with less than 30 days to the expiration of this present NECOM. It is disheartening to note that official instruction has been passed of late, to the Chairman of ASECO to discontinue all preparations towards the NECOM election. This definitely is unconstitutional, as such provision halting processes towards an election is not provided for. The jingles that go on the airwaves, the regular text message reminders and the emails were ordered discontinued. This definitely is an uncalled for attempt by some individuals to scuttle the structured, transparent and peaceful march towards achieving a seamless transition from the current, to the next administration.
Aside all these schemings, aimed at just one person in NECOM, it is further annoying to note that those behind the current design to disrupt the constitutionally ordered procedures are jostling to take advantage of Section 13 (5)(c) which states: “Administer the association for one month within which election will be concluded and shall continue for a maximum of 6 months if it was impossible to conduct or conclude election or under extreme necessity.” Keywords: Administer Association for one month. Election. Shall continue for maximum of six months, if it was impossible to conduct or conclude election under extreme necessity.
There has been nothing since the ban on campaign to the offices of NECOM was lifted that portends “under extreme necessity” or “impossible to conduct or conclude elections.” Everything going on right now smacks of mischief. Some unrelenting and aggrieved individuals who felt shortchanged by the rigid stance of NECOM against their penchant to bend established rules, are the ones scheming so hard, over the years, to ensure that a flux system is caused such that the BOT can take over and begin to break down the foundation and structures established over the years, since the coming on board of this NECOM. If by error of omission or commission, the BOT is allowed to take over the executive functions of ANLCA, we may all have to prepare for the worst, as it was, when the immediate past President of ANLCA- Sir Ernest Elochukwu left office and the BOT took charge for almost two years. Of course, we are all living witnesses to the low abyss to which ANLCA degenerated.
In urging the ASECO to go ahead and fix a date and venue for the elections before the expiration of the current NECOM tenure, since the process has long began, specifically since the 15th of January 2014, it is pertinent to note that nothing in Section 22 of ANLCA Constitution that reverses the process or that gives room for such to happen. What may amount to some form of interference is stated in section 22 (2)(c) where, at the last line, it states: “ASECO shall in collaboration with BOT have the power to fix the election fees and timetable.” Keywords: Collaboration. Power. Fix. Election fees. Time-table. It is confirmed with this that the BOT does not possess powers to stop the election process. Rather ASECO is to collaborate with BOT to fix fees and timetable. Within the next three weeks, election date and venue can be fixed. The logistics of moving less that eighty elected chapters’ executives and BOT members to an equidistant venue should be contemplated without any further delay.
ANLCA has attained a momentum that any mistake of derailment will spell a total death knell to our collective hopes and aspirations for a veritable professional organization. A further allusion to the ANLCA constitution, to buttress the fact that no room should be left for mischief makers to disorganize ANLCA’s steady march to greatness, is found in Section 22(4) where it is stated that:”the election shall be conducted within three (3) months prior to the expiration of the tenure to the Chapter executive Council (Committee) and the National Executive Council (Committee) as the case may be.” Subsection (6) of section 22 counters the purpose of 2(c), where it stated that “the election shall be held on a date and place to be designated by ASECO.”
Since ASECO constitutionally reserves the right to announce the unbanning of electioneering campaigns, ASECO must also have the right to announce date of convenience, fix nomination fees and ensure that the venue is prepared and ready for the election. All that is required now from ASECO, after the display of voters list on the Internet at http://www.anlca.com.ng/, is the announcement of the date and venue for the election, not forgetting the all important logistics, which must be sourced anyhow to ensure the prosecution of this all-important and critical phase in our match towards democratically consolidating the gains of ANLCA over the past four years.
All hands must be on deck now in order to save ANLCA from the hawks that are hell bent on reversing the gains made so far, please.
Mr. Joe Sanni is Senior Special Assistant, Media, to the National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA). He wrote from Lagos.