By Joe Sanni
As the National President of the largest umbrella organization of licensed Customs Agents in Nigeria, and the best Customs Brokers’ Association in Africa- Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) – Prince Olayiwola Fariudeen Shittu, clocks 64 years old today, it is very essential for the Maritime Industry practitioners/operators and Nigerians in general to know what stands this quintessential leader out on governance issues.
How he manages to generate and implement great ideas at the speed of brainwaves or supersonics, is still a mystery to many of us working with him. How also he manages to remain focus, despite profound distractions, is very difficult to comprehend.
Of course, we do understand that he paid his dues patiently, diligently and meticulously over the years. Having served in the various committees of ANLCA and working very closely with almost all the past National presidents, Prince Olayiwola Shittu decided to throw his hat into the ring of the National Presidency of ANLCA, because those presenting themselves then, lack the capacity, experience, ideas and charisma required to run a great association like ANLCA.
I need to recall very quickly, some of the signs of great things that was to come to ANLCA, at that time. During POSCO’s (Prince Olayiwola Shittu Campaign Oranization) Campaign to lilypond Chapter early 2010, Prince Olayiwola Shittu told the ecstatic members, that ANLCA will be great again. That was when Up ANLCA! Up Agents! was jettisoned for Great ANLCA! Great Agents! envisioning where ANLCA is expected to be, if given the mandate, in a couple of years time. He carried the same message to all our seventeen chapters across the Nigerian Nation. He interacted, solicited and explained his mission and vision to the various interest groups and stakeholders within the industry. He particularly asked members what they wanted. Prince Shittu was richly informed, further educated in the sorry plight of majority of ANLCA members.
More determined than when he decided to contest, he worked harder on his programmes, expecting to hit the ground running, when eventually he gets the mandate of Licensed Custom Agents, to lead them.
Another sign that a new day/dispensation is in the offing, was the reaction of the over one hundred and fifty electoral College voters, in the conference hall of Concorde Hotel, Owerri, Imo State on the 17th of April 2010, when Prince Olayiwola Shittu was invited to lay bare his plans for ANLCA, before the actual voting commenced. He has hardly spoken for three minutes, when a thunderous ovation greeted his oratorial prowess. This initial reaction, intermittently obstructing his flow, became a child’s play, when after elections, he had almost one hundred percent votes casted. Buoyed by this overwhelming support, Prince Olayiwola Shittu commenced unfolding the direction he is headed.
After the swearing-in ceremonies, a new innovation was unfolded. An insignia of office (symbol of authority) was unveiled, and he was accordingly decorated. The photograph therefrom became the official photograph of the National President of ANLCA, which adorns the offices of the chapters and the zones across Nigeria.
The innovation was to be closely followed by the design and the production in the United States of America, of the ANLCA lapel-pin (as part of the corporate dressing-code of members of ANLCA) which every member is expected to wear, in order to create an identity for the Association. At different occasions/fora, especially while visiting major stakeholders, the National President decorates deserving personalities with the lapel-pin, thus inducting such persons as honorary members of ANLCA, who were thereafter, at liberty to attend any gathering of ANLCA.
The Recognition then, of the fact that an operational base is required to work for ANLCA, a rented accommodation as offices, was gotten within the first week of election. How that was achieved, is still in the realm of the winning ways of Prince Shittu. Embarking on a regular visit to the Chapters to feel the pulse of the general members gave him a platform to aggregate challenges, articulate them after meetings of his National Executive Committee and strategize to solving them.
A quiet and effective negotiator, ANLCA’s National President, through non-violent disposition has been able to resolve multiple problems confronting members. Most Challenges are usually resolved at meetings, called almost every fortnight. Brainwave in ANLCA is a constant occurrence. The National President usually, when ideas crop up, he immediately request those available in the secretariat to meet to discuss it. That way, everyone feels carried along.
Used to being a moderator at ANLCA meetings, he, as then Chairman of ANLCA’s Association Electoral Commission (ASECO), brought lasting peace to the then turbulent Western Zone Chapters. The magic was simply by abiding with the rules of the game, remaining absolutely neutral, resolute and ensuring that nobody qualified was disenfranchised. For every step or action he takes, the provisions of ANLCA Constitution remain his guiding principle.
Prince Olayiwola Fariudeen Shittu hails from Igboho, in Orelope Local Government Area of Oyo State. He sojourned, preparatory to the moulding of his character traits, in Warri- Delta State, as an NPA Staff. Thereafter, he was at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he spent almost three decades of his present sixty-four years, where he built formidable structures, built credible bridges and alliances to aid his development professionally, socially, academically and politically as manifested in 12th Committee- a group of like-minded private and public individuals who met at regular intervals to discuss, and implement welfare packages for its members. Prince Olayiwola Shittu constantly tells anyone that bothers to listen, that his style of selfless and exemplary leadership with integrity, was derived from his membership of 12th Committee in Port Harcourt.
As said earlier, his persuasive approach to issues at various stakeholders meetings has convinced most attendees to view Customs Agents differently now.
The Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Shipper Council, Shipping Companies, terminal operators, Security and government agencies, etc now deal with Customs Agents with some respect, even though there is still room for a better understanding and relationship.
Still about Prince Olayiwola Shittu’s winning ways, he initiated the process of taking ANLCA to the International Federation of Custom Brokers Association (IFCBA) after sensitizing, discussing and exposing the benefits to members.The National President also initiated and solicited for support from some stakeholders on capacity building programmes abroad- for ANLCA members. This, he promised to intensify in his second tenure, more so that ANLCA now has a permanent Secretariat, with an ultra-modern training facility.
The permanent National Secretariat of ANLCA- also known as- DIKKO INDE HOUSE, named after the Comptroller General of Customs- Alhaji (Dr) Dikko Inde Abdullahi, CFR was conceived, discussed, marketed to members, and finally gotten within a year. This was an unprecedented feat, made possible by the intellectual acumen, goodwill, persuasive abilities, and focus of Prince Olayiwola Shittu.
Another idea that is now evolving is the training of Customs brokers for certification. The training is so crucial to the renewal of customs brokerage practicing license. Every licensed Custom Agent is free to enroll in the training, which is sponsored by Nigeria Customs Service. The training will commence on the 20th of October 2014 at the MMI Airport training centre, in the ANLCA National Secretariat. The destination is e-transaction, where issues of corruption and crowding of the Ports, will be a thing of the past.
Our own dear National President who turns 64 today (15th October 2014), still has a lot up his sleeves, even though in his first tenure, he delivered on all his promises within two of his four years. Perhaps, that was why he took up the issue of a Permanent National Secretariat for ANLCA.
This time, he wants to take his time to build the capacity of members, activate a bill in the National Assembly to establish an Institute of Customs brokers, plead with relevant authorities to cede at least 1% of FOB, to be paid to Customs Agents as professional services fees, in order to double revenue collection for the Federal Government of Nigeria, establish a process for sustained income for the association and above all, ensure that the integrity level of ANLCA membership is raised to the highest level.
Prince Olayiwola Shittu has enjoyed tremendous support from almost all members of ANLCA, especially from all the Chapters across board, which is a testimony to the fact that everyone appreciates being carried along in the administration of affairs of ANLCA.
The love of Prince Shittu is genuine, and consistently sustained because he demands nothing from members, but to continue working for ANLCA to remain Great ANLCA! Great Agents! Everyone identifies with Prince Shittu, to the extent that opportunities are sought to serve in his administration. Not all could be accommodated and from afar, majority continues to contribute, in no small measure, to the development of ANLCA.
It is worthy of note that our own National President, who clocks 64 today is very agile, fit as a fiddle, mentally alert and engaging. He made history as the very first National President of ANLCA to be elected twice. He implemented the widely-appreciated Biometric/Multipurpose ID cards in ANLCA. He has, within the sixty years existence of ANLCA, achieved a lasting legacy, a unifying factor, an imposing edifice as a Permanent National Secretariat. This is wonderful indeed.
Above all of these, Shittu at 64 signifies an epitome of humility, respect for constituted authority, stickler for constitutional governance, focused, ideas-driven, result-oriented with a forgiving heart, a team worker-who will always say by working; Together Everyone Achieves More (T.E.A.M)
Happy Birthday Our dear National President! May the Almighty Allah continue to give you the wisdom, courage and good health, to continue piloting ANLCA to the greatest heights that Custom brokerage will be reckoned with, as a most sought-after profession in Nigeria, the way it is in advanced economies. Ameen.
Director of Media and Publicity to the National President of ANLCA.
October 15, 2014.