The National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chief Tony Iju Nwabunike has dismissed ethnic colouration in the crisis rocking the association as believed by many in certain quarters.
Nwabunike who stated this while addressing the elders of the Association of Igbo Maritime Practitioners in Nigeria (ASIMPIN) who paid him a courtesy visit at the ANLCA secretariat in Lagos on Monday said that his position on the matter was informed on the premise that the key members of his executive were Yorubas who were ready to severe their relationship with their people for him to succeed as the National President of the association.
He further dismissed the insinuation in some quarters that his administration was that of the Igbos as many believed that people from the south east region were predominantly running the affairs of the association in last one year even as he described the insinuation as false.
According to him,” The Chief of Staff is in custody of this place, he is a Yoruba man, my Vice is a Yoruba Man, my National Secretary is a Yoruba man, my National Financial Secretary that holds all the finances is a Yoruba woman, the only Igbo man that is supposed to work with me is Dada and where is he? He is gone! The only person that is elected that is supposed to work with me is my Assistant National Secretary but he is in the east.
“So, if they now say that this group is Igbo group, where will I place my Vice, where will I place my National Secretary, where will I place my Chief of Staff, where will I place my National Financial Secretary? Where are my brothers and sisters? I believe we should ask ourselves a question. When you say that the Yorubas are saying no to my government, this government, I am a figure head. Can I be honest with you? I have not gone to Western Zone visitation, I have not gone to Apapa, I have not gone to Tincan, I have not gone to Lillypond, I have not gone to PTML, I have not done that because immediately after the election, I stupidly went into the National Assembly election.
“But today, the man (Farinto) that everybody is saying that will backstab me stood firm and those who were telling me that are running away. Sometimes, you look at it, it is not because we are Igbos, an Igbo man can equally kill me. Where is Dada? You people should go and look for Dada, ask him a question. Today, if anybody wants to insult me, it is Gideon. Yoruba man cannot look at my face and write negative thing but Gideon will write.
“So, when you look at the whole thing, it is not about Igbos and Yorubas, where lies your own interest? The highest revelation I have got is my National Secretary. I have never come to this place without having lights on, the magic; I don’t know how they are doing it because the whole Western Zone is not paying their remittances. I don’t know how they do it, they will call me, Oga are you coming? There is light, if there is no light, there is solar in this place, internet is on, employment is going on. About four lawyers are up there? Are they doing it because I am an Igbo man? They are doing it because in their nature, they believed that the association must move forward.
“The final person that is shocking me is Bola Muse, the National Financial Secretary. She is very close to Shittu, very close to Taiwo but she told them, please, Tony Iju has not done anything that will warrant me leaving him. She is keeping the records straight. Bola Muse is seriously standing with me but you know the greatest person? This man (Ennyman), since I become the President of the association, he has never failed one day to be in this secretariat, a Yoruba man. The way he makes his money I don’t know. I wish I will be getting money so that I will be giving him some.
“Then people now begin to say this is Igbo Igbo, when they say it, I don’t understand. The only Igbo here is myself and Obicee, only the both of us are here working in this secretariat. I am begging you people, please, if you go back to Yorubas, tell them that this house is one big family. We are not weak, I have administrators, if they don’t want, I will go ahead and introduce my administrators to all the Area commands.
“But I need peace because enemies are catching on it to destroy the association, to discuss issues that do not warrant discussion. So, I am begging you people to go back, to get them to their senses and tell them that you people are highly respectable Chiefs in our areas. If we want to have peace, it must be quality peace; we don’t have a peace of the graveyard. Please, I must say this seriously, Tony has come to stay for four years and with your support, we will do it but I am begging you, go and beg them that we need peace but the peace must be genuine, very quality peace”.
On his part, the National Vice President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto agreed with Nwabunike that what was happening in the association was not about tribal politics but about personal interest adding that “Some people who have been milking ANLCA and agents for about three decades believe that it should continue but God in his infinite mercy actually won the election for our President at Enugu”.
He went ahead to submit that what was happening in the association was divine intervention as according to him; it was God himself that was passing through ANLCA.
He continued,” But our elder sirs, when a man commits what is called ‘Political Alakiri’, what do you do? What you are seeing today is as a result of ‘political alakiri’ committed by people who believed that they have known it all. They believed that ‘I have been playing it, I am a local champion’. But when God says yes, nobody can say no. What you have seen, I knew that if I was going to be the Vice President of ANLCA, I must be subjected to the National President and I said, I have sworn by that constitution and I am going to abide by it. I know one of our leaders; Elochukwu called me and said, do you know that the Vice President is a spare tyre? And I said that I know but one day, the spare tyre will be useful.
“Let me even give you an example sirs, when the President was far away, we were fighting to stop maritime Police from conducting the illegality they are doing, this same faction went to AIG Maritime to tell him that it is not their faction, it is that faction that is fighting Police. I need not tell you what they are telling customs headquarters, most of the things we are seeing here, they are eating from it but we are saying that it will not continue and that is why, if God still liveth, this man (Tony Iju) will finish his tenure.
“But one thing sirs, some people refused to retire, the political intrigues that you are seeing now is already retiring them whether we like it or not. We are not saying that we don’t want peace but we will not have peace at the expense of our constitution. The President cannot reverse what the NEC has said, that some Chairmen who went on paper to say that they don’t recognize him, he will now reverse it, it is not done, after all, he invited all of them, even at the NEC meeting, he did not want them sanctioned but the NEC said they must be sanctioned and we expect remorse from them.
But when they believe that it is the tradition, the way they do it, agents in the field are suffering, we achieve a lot of things, they will go behind and say don’t mind them, it is not our group and they feed fat from our problem. It is not going to be business as usual. In every operation room, when a woman is going for caesarian section, there is always a drop of blood, there will be people who will be sacrificial lamb whether we like it or not. If it is only 30 of us that will remain in ANLCA, there must be discipline so that customs will see us and know that these people are disciplined not that we are many and someone would come to this secretariat and say ‘I have given all Presidents problem, that there is no President I don’t give problem, they come to beg me’. Is that an accolade? We won’t tolerate that, sirs”.
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