ANLCA leadership quagmire: A total derailment of professional fortunes


Being a post Easter message of peace to the leadership of the oldest freight forwarding association in Nigeria by Dr. Eugene Nweke

Gentlemen of the Press, I have serious professional cause and interests to revisit the above subject, following my two earlier statements all pleading with the actors to jaw jaw, break bread together, shift grounds for each other, be accommodative, bury the differences, show capacity for tolerance as leaders, doing so for the interest of the association and the profession.

Unfortunately, the quagmire persisted and now its consequences to the profession has become unbearable.

This press statement is not aimed at romancing issues but to call a spade a spade from the point of postulation that, this misunderstanding has been taken too far. And shall say things from borrowed words of our dear President, H.E. Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, “I am for nobody, but I am for everybody”, this is against the background that all the actors involved in this leadership quagmire are respectful good friends, some are very senior professional colleagues, above all, successful chief executive officers and leaders in their rights.

In addition, this modest use of the choice word Chief Executives or Executive Leader serves as a general description of the ANLCA leadership in general (BOT, National and Chapter Executives and Ex-Officio).

Notwithstanding, it is time to speak to the kings without sounding immodest, but for posterity sake choose words that will reawaken our leadership consciousness and responsibilities to the led.

Four years ago, when the ANLCA leadership tussle reared its ugly head, looking at the array of successful chief executives of viable companies, who by professional inclination and association was brought together to use their wealth of experiences to chart a new progressive course and add impetus to the freight forwarding profession and practitioners, I rested my confidence, while I relied on the words of this two visionary leaders and writers:
Lord Byron noted that, “Adversity is the first path to truth”, while Francis Beaumont equally noted that, “Calamity is a man’s true touchstone.”

With this in mind, it implies that any aspiring executive will certainly face one crisis or obstacles in the course of showing leadership or administering the organization.

Generally, what is expected of such executives under such circumstances is not only thoughts of how to cope with the adversity but how he or they were able to turn the adversity to corporate advantage.

I have been astonished and worried that this crisis had persisted till now, I resorted to do a private further review and probe why these crop of experienced and successful chief executives must tow the path of endless destruction of corporate association image and professional integrity with its attendant consequence on the practicing members yet going about with levity and perhaps unperturbed.

This is the basis of this modest, in my series of canvass for peace since this crisis started.

First I discovered that, though this array of high calibre of chief executives which any professional setting can boast of but judging from their individual and collective actions and events that unfolded so far, can make an acceptable claim to love ANLCA per say but cannot genuinely convince at the moment any sound mind that they have cargo interest in their hearts (which is the first attraction into the world of global trade and logistics) neither can they honestly beat their hands to their chest and pride themselves that they are indeed passionate about this noble profession itself, especially so, in the face of the prevailing hardship which the practitioners are going through in the supposedly port value adding supply chain, caused by inadequately committed professional leadership directions even as the elected chief executives are working at cross purposes.

Today, we are back to the era where the practitioners are now helplessly running from pillar to post, professionals has now turn to beggers in a supply chain where they are ideally the strongest link and nucleus that drives other links in the international trade safety and supply chain management.

Today, many professionals have passed on, some on sick bed, many hopeless on account of excessive executive ulcers and avoidable pressure, all because, elected chief executives resort to compromise and sacrifice their corporate professional integrity, wellbeing and interests on the altar of egocentrism, undue pride and self seeking adventures.

Without prejudice or any deliberate intent to insult the integrity cum personality of any of this crop of chief executives, I discovered that, among the ANLCA status books, apart from some sections of the constitution, none of its books has comprehensive code of professional conduct as an extant book of executive guide.

To this end, it is obvious to posit that ANLCA corporate stake, pursuance to its corporate mission and vision is not adequately defined, as such, whatever that constitutes the ANLCA corporate interests is perhaps as crafted or intended by a particular leader or presiding chief executives.

Here again, I also observed that professional association leadership logics is often in contention with professional leadership ideology. This usually plays out often, as obvious evidence in practical terms abounds. In most instances, chief executives does see themselves as trade unions leaders today and tomorrow parades themselves as professional advocacy /lobby group. This is a major confusion in corporate outlook and mindset amongst the associations not limited to ANLCA.

Furthermore, I observed that association interests in relation to the basic principles or the essence of association which is; seeing and approaching leadership from the concept that association is always a battle for professional membership increase, enhance relevance, improvement of professional wellness, professional effectiveness via strong representations and efficiency via visionary and selfless leadership delivery which is anchored on principles of “WE” (team work) and not “I’ (individualistic). Understanding that chief executives must lead very much as general in order to win.

This association basic leadership principles appears to me as being skipped or not deeply grasped by most of the chief executives, judging from their antics and unremorseful posture.

Truly, I do understand as much that, it is more fun for purposeful chief executives to win a hard fight than an easy one but not in all situation, especially not doing so in the face of dying profession and impoverished practitioners.

In a crisis time, what do the chief executives do? This is one question a proactive leadership puts on the checklist scale. And what a proactive leaders does during crisis is very simple.
Permit me to highlight on few of the virtues and functions usually pursue by the executive leaders:

a. The Executive leader don’t allow the crisis to overwhelm him. He weighs the possible outcome of the crisis then take action to change the course of event and ensure to prevent disaster.

b. When crisis seems getting beyond expectations, an executive leader don’t panic nor resolve to fight back dirty rather he conquer fear and double his sense of proportion and fair reaction.

c. In the face of crisis, humility, patience and being focus is key, the executive leader does not react unreasonably or irrationally neither snarl nor squander his efforts in the wrong direction or striking back blindly, etc. The executive leaders does not look for whom to blame rather he sees self as the man of the moment upon whom enormous leadership responsibilities is rested, as such takes responsibility.

d. In the face of crisis, an executive leader stands courageous, reliable, unflinchingly see crisis as an avenue to solve problems as they arise. He preoccupy his mind, thinking solely in terms of plugging holes in the dike. He builds stronger dike if the situation permits it.

e. In crisis situation, an executive leader understands when best to deploy counter attack as means of defense. He opt for counter attack having weigh options, taking stock and restratagize in order not to defeat set goals or record casualties in the process.

I would have love to dwell more on this premise because much about executive virtues and functions in the context of association leadership is our collective undoing but for the want of time, let it not be like one is claiming perfection.

But the reality is that this highly elated executives understand this rare virtues and functions of the chief executive leader but allowed their sense of leadership reasoning and prompt responsibilities to be overwhelmed by the activities of spectators (aka supporters) and their usual gossips of “they say, them say”, an act they term as being loyal.

Worst still, the executives had suddenly forgotten that they were all good friends prior to the election and now failed to see selves as same people joined together by professional inclination and voluntary associationship courtesy of ANLCA.

Suddenly, willingness and passion to serve professional colleagues is now misplaced as undefined interests takes center stage, tearing them apart to the extent of almost destroying the corporate fabrics of the great association.

Let me say it clearly, this past four years of leadership tussle, by their actions and inactions, some members or practitioners who looked up to them have passed on and the industry is nothing but a shadow of its own.

Let me also say to them that from my over 30 years of association involvement and crisis management, experience has shown that no normal court setting any where in the world has successfully resolved association leadership crisis or matter rather it elongates the peace process and widen its division. But with Alternative Dispute Resolutions -ADR (which by design represents an out of court settlement) does so in most cases very successfully.

Gentlemen, if I may ask an innocent question, what interests are we truly projecting and protecting, is it WE or I?

Has any of you stolen each other landed property or taken away wife from each other? The answer is NO.

How long do we continue in this tussle while the foreigners daily take over our profession in collusion with some shipping and terminal service providers and the agencies of the government are taking our members for granted?

What legacy are we striving to leave behind us knowing that posterity is ahead of us?

Gentlemen, none of us has monopoly of tomorrow as tomorrow is pregnant. Let us resolve here and now to bury ego and pride. Let us build and focus on developing our profession collectively and empower our teeming professional colleagues (members).

Gentlemen, God gives leadership for service unto humanity. Four years is winding up, can you all sincerely say to yourselves that you have collectively achieved corporate goals?

Then, to the past leaders of ANLCA at all levels who kept mute and watch the Association continuously derailing, I say with due respect that collectively, your desirous wealth of experiences and wisdom was seriously lacking in this matter, moreso, when it matters most.

Finally, none of us is perfect. As such, let us for once advice ourselves. Let us look at each other eyeball to eyeball and tender with a soft brotherly tone mea copa – mea copa (I have ailed, you have ailed), let’s think about ANLCA, let’s think about our profession and let’s think about our professional colleagues/members.

I rest my case, here.

I never intend to insult any, but I most sincerely pray, that this modest will meet their sense of humanity and responsibility.

Please treat as my Easter message to ANLCA leadership.

Thanks for your attention.

Fwdr. Eugene Nweke, RFF, KSM, a former National President of NAGAFF writes from Lagos

Photo: Dr. Eugene Nweke, former National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).

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