Following allegations that the President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents , Tony Iju Nwabunike, may have gone on AWOL, Shipping World Magazine engaged a former President of ANLCA, Chief Peter Okocha, in an interview on the State of Affairs of the once very vocal Association . Here are excerpts from the interview:
S/W: You were once President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA. What was the vision of ANLCA under your leadership?
OKOCHA: Well ,under my leadership then, I was with Otunba Fashawe who was my Vice President.Our vision was to reposition ANLCA and help the sector to reposition itself as the second largest revenue earner ,which it actually is. But our tenure was short lived because our friends(President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar,)came into government almost at the same time.
Fashawe and I said it would be morally wrong to have friends in government and still lead an association which had the semblance of a worker’s union, and to avoid a conflict of interest ,we decided to resign.
S/W: What is your assessment of the Tony Iju Leadership at ANLCA?
OKOCHA: At the moment, there is no ANLCA.You see ,Tony is my friend , infact he is like a younger brother to me. I would say the last time ANLCA operated was when Prince Olayewola Shittu was President. Since then, ANLCA went into sudden coma, and I am saying this with all sense of responsibility and sincerity, because in Wole Soyinka’s book (The Man Died) ,it is not that the man actually died. When you as a man ,fail to speak up on issues that bothers on common interest because of your personal interest, then the man in you has died. I am not the kind of man who in all colouration ,whether it is tribal or religion or ethnicity,I don’t believe in that. I am a Nigerian first and foremost and my parents happened to be igbo and I was born in the North(Jos)and I am now earning my living in Lagos, I have a son called Olusola Akinkoye Okocha which I named after two of the finest human beings I have ever encountered, then my first son who is a Petroleum Engineer, he is Sadiq Sani Okocha, these are also two wonderful people I have ever encountered in my life. I say nothing in life can I give to justify the love and brotherhood that these people have shown me and as you can see ,this building is named after Sadiq and is housing Sadiq Petroleum. So when people come out with ethnic coloration or religious colouration, I just believe they have nothing to offer. Simply put ,Tony Iju has failed.The next”assignment would be how ANLCA, as a body,would be how to carry or “lead the bull out of the China shop”. I am leaving that to the ANALCA members.
S/W: There was a supposed constitutional amendment in ANLCA recently in Owerri. Would you say due process was followed in that amendment process ?
OKOCHA: I am not even aware of that because I was busy trying to reposition myself and my business. But that tenure elongation by him does not have a place in our(ANLCA)books.I had a WhatsApp conversation with him this morning (April 21), and he said to me that he was on sabbatical and I told him one thing, that how can you be on sabbatical when your house is on fire? He said it was constitutional and that he got the permission of NECOM and he left.
There is a proverb in my place that says if somebody asks you to hide under a place and you see that hiding under that place cannot protect you, it would only be wise of you to re hide yourself. Even if NECOM ,the highest body of the association tells you, he knows that all is not well. He( Tony Iju)campaigned for the position, he was not drafted, he asked for the job and when you see that the job you asked for and the organisation that you are supposed to be heading is falling apart, and the centre can no longer hold, all you have to do is to resign . There is nothing he studies now that he cannot study in ten years’ time. May God keep us alive. Unfortunately, he will now have it in his CV that ANLCA disintegrated under his tenure and that ANLCA is not the same ANLCA that was handed over to him by Prince Olayiwola Shittu four years ago .That would be in his conscience and his CV.
S/W: l Did he , during your whstsapp chat with him this morning (April 21),say when he’s returning from his sabbatical?
OKOCHA: I did not ask him because I was pissed off. One of the former Presidents of The United States Of America was asked a question , he was told that it required common sense ,and he said common sense is not common.If actually Igbos are one of those gifted with wisdom and common sense, I am actually amazed that Tony’s ANLCA empire is falling apart.
S/W : Do you believe that Tony Iju has 365 days left in office as ANLCA President?
OKOCHA: Unfortunately, in civilised countries and even some decent African countries ,when a man is given a position of responsibility and you cannot perform, you step aside. Otunba Fashawe and I would have continued in office as President and Vice President, our mandate was three or four years, but when we realized we had inhibitions that would compromise the interests of ANLCA, we decided to step aside so that a new Leadership can drive the process. That is what we call integrity. Unfortunately, in those days, when a child commits an offence, your neighbour next-door will beat him and say go and tell your mother that I beat you. And you dare not tell your mother because your mother would also give you another beating. These things are supposed to be collective interests. Bringing up a child or character moulding is a responsibility of all but we have now gotten to a situation where our conscience has gone comatose, our integrity has gone comatose, we are no longer our brother’s keeper ,so the centre cannot hold. In one of his famous books an Erudite Scholar, who unfortunately was not a Nobel prize winner, but I am sure that the Nobel prize awardees knew that he is worthy to be given a nobel prize, he said that there used to be a situation where when you finish your secondary school you don’t need your parents to lead you to an examination centre, when you finish and enter the university, you don’t need your parents to write applications, you are drafted from the very spot your diploma was given to you. But he summed it all up by saying ‘’that was when there was a country”. The country is no more, forget about even the government we are talking about, an association that is a microcosm and infinitesimal part of the Corporate entity called Nigeria. The association is having problems, it is falling apart and the Chief Executive went on a course and said he constitutionally handed over to his deputy.
S/W : CUTS IN: Did he tell you when he is coming back?
OKOCHA: I did not ask him because I was just disappointed that such an answer would come from someone that I really liked.