In this part two of the interview with our correspondent, Chief Lawrence Chukwubunna Uba who is contesting for the position of ANLCA National Secretary in the coming NECOM election scheduled for 5th July, 2023 speaks on power rotation in ANLCA, recovery of lost documents, building of mutual trust among members and so on. Excerpts;
I am aware that before now, ANLCA has a zoning system which ensured that power rotates among the major ethnic groups in the association to ensure peace. But this time around, it appears that that zoning arrangement has been jettisoned as it’s obvious Dr. Kayode Farinto, a Yoruba and a former Vice President of ANLCA, Chief Emenike Nwokeoji, an Igbo man are contesting in this election. Does it mean that the zoning arrangement has been thrown out?
To the best of my knowledge, the zoning arrangement has not been thrown away. Remember that it’s an unwritten Memorandum of Understanding, MoU and based on the agreement, we follow it as we agreed and we are doing it for peace to reign. That’s why as this election is coming, as a Yoruba man is going for the President, an Igbo man is going for the Vice President and the Secretary and so on.
Now, we have a constitution which we call the supreme constitution of ANLCA that was passed into law during the regime of former President Prince Olayiwola Shittu. After that, Hon. Tiny Iju came into office, you know there’s no perfect constitution and the only permanent in life is change. So, as he is operating the constitution, he discovered some lacuna in the constitution and called for AGM which I attended and that was in December 2020 at Imo Concorde Hotels, Owerri. Right there at the AGM, we appointed our first patron which happens to be His Excellency, Chief Hope Uzodinma, the current governor of Imo State.
Some people are kicking against the amendments, mind you, the constitution was not changed. It was just an amendment which is proper in the life of any organization. That was what he did and it was considered and passed into law. And in ANLCA and elsewhere, AGM is the highest decision making organ, they can change and uphold anything. I stand to tell you that in that AGM, it was not only the portion as it affects the tenure of office that was amended, other portions were also amended. Today nobody is talking about those other portions and it was at that AGM that we started appointing patrons, nobody is talking about it. so, it was just simple amendment and we all agreed to it.
After that, we had another AGM which held this year at Eko Hotels and this same issue came up again and a motion was moved in respect to it and it was seconded and it was upheld. So, anybody saying that the amendment will not hold and because of that, he is coming to contest, he is not honest to himself.
When you are referring to this amendment, you seem to be referring to a particular session which is under controversy. Which session is that sir?
The elected officers of ANLCA before now, serve four years in office in the first instance and another four years making it two terms of eight years but at the AGM held in Owerri, a five year single term was adopted for all officers of ANLCA across board. Having amended that session, and people consented to it, a question came up that very day on when this new provision take effect and I remember that it was Mr. Ojo Peter Akintoye from Tincan Island chapter who stood up and moved a motion that the new provision take effect immediately.
And then, Chief Mike Ebeatu from Port-Harcourt objected and said that a tenure is about to finish in their chapter and they were planning to conduct an election and the AGM responded and said that the chapter whose executive are already serving out would be allowed to serve out their tenure but the new election that they were going to have in January or February of the preceding year 2021 will start with the new amendment. But that the present NECOM sitting as at that 2020 would be beneficiary of that new amendment and the motion was seconded and it became a law. That was why the present NECOM did not vacate office when their tenure was originally supposed to end in April 2022 and stayed on till this year.
That means, they have enjoyed that amendment and now who enjoyed it? It’s an Igbo man from the East. He has served as National President for five years. So, naturally, it becomes the turn of another tribe based on that mutual understanding. Any Igbo man now clamouring to serve another five years, bringing the tenure of the Igbos to ten years, will negate the real reason we amended that constitution.
One of the reasons why that amendment came up and people supported it was that we found out that some people are overstaying in office and we discovered that most people in their second term don’t perform again. We also found out that people when they are elected into office, they work for one year and some two years and all they will be after is how to get re-elected. They will abandon the association and be pursuing their re-election.
Also, we found out that that idea of staying eight years in office, considering our numerical strength will not give others the chance to come up and so, we decided that one will do a tenure and others will do a tenure so that the succession plan will be fast and so that whoever has ambition would be able to actualize it within the shortest time possible. These and other reasons were tabled at the AGM that day and we looked at it and saw it as cogent and that it will help to stop infighting in the association. Now, I am contesting for the office of the National Secretary, I know that when elected, all I need to do in order to write my name in gold, I have to do it because after this term, I am not coming back. So, it will not be a question of after two or three years, I will start planning how to come back for a second term. You see that that distraction is gone, all I will concentrating on now is how I will be remembered after I leave office.
Then, after that, if there is still any opportunity, and I have the capacity to serve in another position, that is what I will be looking up to. So, if that amendment of 2020 which was again ratified at the AGM 2023 stands, you now see that it does not make sense for an Igbo man coming up to contest. It means that he is only trying to negate that MoU we had which is not good for us and I am seeing that sign already. From their line up that I saw, go and check, he is the only Igbo man contesting, all other positions, we don’t have Igbos there but under that mutual arrangement, both in the chapters and the National, it’s always Yoruba man takes, Igbo man takes and if you look at the line up of Dr. Farinto Kayode, you will see that he has taken the Presidency, Igbo man is taking the Vice President and so on.vss
So, would it be right to say that Chief Emenike Nwokeoji is running without a team?
I say he has a team but when you look at that team, from what we are seeing, it’s only him that is an Igbo man there which to me, negate that MoU we had because if they really want to do things as it ought to be, his Vice should be a Yoruba man, his Secretary should be a Yoruba man and so on.
I also understand that ANLCA leadership rotates between the Eastern and Western Zones. You will recall that Prince Olayiwola Shittu who was from the Eastern zone handed over to Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike from the Western Zone. Is it not right to say that power should again move to the Eastern zone as it seems no one is interested to take it up from the Northern zone?
To the best of my knowledge, in all the years that I have been in ANLCA, I don’t think this one is part of the MoU that we had in ANLCA reason being that I became a clearing agent meeting Rafiu Ladipo as the President, to Kamba to Okocha and so on. So, what am I trying to say? You can see that Hausa man has been ANLCA President. After that, Alhaji Inua Mohammed who is also an Hausa man has equally been ANLCA President. So, I don’t think that to the best of my knowledge, that that MoU of East and West exist. All I know is that we look at tribe more and it is opened to every tribe. As you can see, Hausa man has been there, Igbo man has been there and Yoruba man has also been President.
In the last few years, while the crisis lasted in ANLCA, the Secretariat was touched and few properties damaged and I am not sure most of the damaged items have been put back in place. If elected, what are your plans to fix those items that was destroyed and also make it look like a home for every ANLCA member as obtained in the past when people come to relax and ease off tension arising from the day’s work?
You should know that I was one of the people who started the idea of engaging in some outdoor activities after the day’s work at ANLCA Secretariat. We started it when we had our Secretariat at Olive Estate, Prince Shittu used to call it Brain Wave at that time. It continued till the crisis. Thank God for this election, for me, I will tag this election, “Election of Unity”, in the sense that after this election, and God helping us, we get it right and we close rank, the issue of reviving Secretariat is a question of seconds because once there is that closing up of ranks, once there’s that mutual trust and understanding, the Secretariat will start bubbling again. You don’t need any other magic to make it work.
Right now, you can take a trip to our Secretariat and you will see that it’s up and doing right now because of the election. There’s activities, everybody is coming and going, the only thing that is remaining now is that leisure, sitting down after closing of office to eat and drink which I know will happen immediately the election is over, if there’s that peace and mutual understanding, it will come back naturally.
Then, on the documents that were burnt, I believe that we have most of our documents stored in hard disc and so I believe that some of the paper works must have been lost but I don’t think that as an association, that we lost everything in terms of documentation because already, with the coming of ICT, everybody knows that there are ways and means of filing documents and I believe that before the unfortunate incident, we have gone a step ahead. So, I don’t think that outside the papers that got burnt, the vital documents were not properly preserved.
In the last five years, it’s obvious that there is mutual distrust in ANLCA. If elected, how do you intend to build mutual trust and win back the confidence of members as your office will be a rallying point?
God is already doing it for us. Why do I say so? Gradually, you can see us having meeting together which was not the case before now. Currently, you can see us buying nomination form from one source to contest election. So, I think that we are gradually coming back. All that is needed is for this election to be peaceful and successful. That will bring a lot of confidence into our members and if that happens, whoever wins, members will start having confidence and trust in the NECOM that is coming onboard. Then, we on our own that hope to come onboard, will equally do our own as human beings by reaching out to anybody that is still feel aggrieved by making them to understand that there’s nothing really at stake.
Photo: Chief Lawrence Chukwubunna Uba, candidate for ANLCA National Secretary in the coming NECOM election.
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