The Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Association of Igbo Maritime Practitioners in Nigeria (ASIMPIN) otherwise known as Igbo Maritime, Chief Peter Obi has said that there is no division in the association as many would want to insinuate.
Obi was stated this in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos on Friday was reacting to a communiqué issued by the chapter Chairmen of the association on the 30th of October, 2019 in which they urge members to boycott the end of the year party scheduled to hold today in Lagos by the executive of the association.
He observed that the chapter Chairmen who issued the communiqué were actually working in the interest of the association adding that they don’t harbour any bad intention or sought to do anything as to jeopardize whatever the executive of the association was doing.
He said, “They want to still use it to show that they are annoyed but two wrongs cannot make a right. We don’t have any division at all. For you to know that there is no division, since I released that my position, nobody has countered it. That is to show you that they still owe allegiance to us, the members of the Board.
Obi who is also a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT), of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) however faulted the communiqué issued by the chapter Chairmen noting that it did not represent the general opinion of members of the association at the chapter level as many of them petitioned the Chairmen dissociating themselves from the communiqué saying that there were not carried along by the Chairmen before taking the position to boycott the party.
“It is not (a collective decision) because some of their members wrote petition to me that that thing was done without their consent. Before you take a decision, you have to call a meeting of the whole chapter, tell them the reasons why you want to boycott that event and then you carry people along. They claimed to have taken their decision along with their members but their members kept writing petitions against that their decision, that they were not aware. So, I have to counter it and even myself, I didn’t know, nobody told me such a thing.
“You see, even if you have problem with the administration, you still have Board members to go to complain and see how they would handle the complaint. You can’t just take such a decision on your own not to talk of not carrying your members along. Nobody consulted us and we don’t know if there is any misgiving only for us to read in the platform that a communiqué has been issued. I was busy all the while, yesterday (Thursday) wasn’t too good for me to come in (with a counter), I should have come in earlier than now but I have been so busy all the time. So, I now say let me quickly do this before it is too late because what we want to do is on Sunday and if people don’t hear from me, some people may take it serious, for people to now see that it is not a general opinion”, he said.
He argued that even if the leadership of ASIMPIN could not organize a congress in March this year which is expected to dovetail into elections at the chapter and national levels as agreed last year a committee set up to that effect, it was not enough for some people to call for a boycott of the association’s activities.
According to him, “When we get to the end of the year party, we can now from there arrange a congress by March next year but I wouldn’t want to have it done in January or February, it is not good because people are not yet through with the activities of the New Year. So, by next March, be that as it may, even if you are annoyed, there is something that provokes you, can’t you have respect to the Board?”
On why the Board could ensure that election was held months after the expiration of the tenure of the current executive of ASIMPIN, he said, “At a time when I would have come in, the President General was ill, travelling from Lagos to India and back and we are human beings, for me to say welcome or how is your health, I will be calling meeting to remove him or call for election. We are human beings; we formed association for ourselves not for the sake of forming association.
“One thing you should know is that everybody came to this town to earn a living and being a clearing agent, you must face what you come here for first. Ozo Chukwura, who is the Vice President General, I thank God for him, he is such a busy man that he clears ship load every week. So, you will discuss with to say call for meeting and he will tell you that he will do it but I think God for him , that thing he is doing is number one and that is why he here. So, I cannot tell somebody to stop his work and go and call Igbo Maritime meeting. Who stands a very good chance of calling for a meeting any time any day you want it is the President General because he has stabilized enough, people now work under him.
“There must be challenges but how you manage those challenges is more important. If they had come to me, I would have called a meeting of the Board and they would come and complain to the Board and they would wait and see if the Board will not intervene. Until very recently, the elders of the Igbo Maritime came to the Board and the Board wade in to see what the problem was and we now concluded that everything should be kept for March next year but we cannot just leave battle like that, the whole of this year nothing happened, the executive agreed to organize the end of the year party so that people will know that there still exist this kind of association.”
On why he did not call the aggrieved chapter Chairmen to a meeting to assuage their grievances, Obi who is also a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) had this to say, “The time is too short for me to do that. I know that I will later call for a meeting to pacify them. I have done what I supposed to have done by writing what I wrote yesterday, now they will all come to the party, then I have known that there is a problem; you don’t expect me to now relax. After the event on Sunday, I will have to call them for a meeting.”
While assuring that there would be no sanction against the chapter Chairmen for the said communiqué, he however beckoned on them to “water down their grievances as the Board will look into their grievances and settle the matter amicably and favourably too.”
On the end of the year party, he said, “We want to get members together to say bye to this year and to forge ahead. We really know that maybe, one way or the other, the executives are not up and doing but having come together, enjoy together, if you are annoyed, I think the percentage of your annoyance will reduce so that if they call you by March next year to come for a meeting or for anything, you will come and then, when you come, we now iron out our differences.
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