…Urges the public to disregard alleged dissolution
The National President of the Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations, COMTUA, Mr. Adeyinka Aroyewun has said that the body does not have any problem other than the campaign of calumny mounted against it by its former members who he said felt threatened by the inquisition of the organization into some anomalies associated with the Truck Transit Parks, the electronic call up system and the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
Aroyewun stated this in an online round table organized by the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria, MARAN on Tuesday.
Going down the memory lane, the COMTUA boss recalled that his administration came into being in November 25, 2021 and more than one year into the office, the “so claimed” founding fathers who did not want to relinquish power and who wanted to remain in power perpetually were yet to relinquish responsibility to the current leadership under him.
He said, “For example, COMTUA has only one account domiciled with Access Bank and the signatories to that account happened to be the first BOT Chairman of the collaboration in the person of Comrade Aloga Ogbogo who is currently the Executive Secretary of NARTO, the current President General of the Maritime Workers’ Union, who is also the co-Chairman of the BOT of COMTUA since 2020 and the third signatory is Otunba Olaleye Thompson who was then the President and the last signatory was Madam Folake George who was the Director of Finance.
“The moment the baton of leadership changed since November 25th, 2021, none of these four signatories have voluntarily or otherwise released their signatories for the mandate to change. As I speak with you, we have not been able to access COMTUA’s account as executives in the last one and half years of our Administration. Secondly, the so called elders of the collaboration, in the name of the collaboration, got garages, parks and pregate garages for themselves under TTP and the moment COMTUA begins to see inadequacies in Eto and TTP arrangement, and started challenging these inadequacies, they became uncomfortable.
“These our so called founding fathers who have been profiting directly or indirectly from TTP legitimately or illegitimately now feel COMTUA is becoming too powerful for them and it is going to cause problem for them, they felt after submitting their resignation letters three years ago, two years ago, last year and some this year, they can come back to say that they have dissolved COMTUA.”
However, he maintained that the rumbles within the organization had since been resolved by the members of the association adding that members of COMTUA did not have any problem amongst themselves presently.
According to him, “Whoever is speaking against COMTUA are no longer members of COMTUA. So, we want the media and the general public to disregard any campaign of calumny as it stands now because COMTUA does not have any problem as a collaboration.
“However, we should not fail to remember that there is freedom of association. You can be in or out of association at will and since some people have chosen to be out of the association and they have followed the due process by writing officially to dissociate themselves from the association,it is okay and it has been accepted, that has been settled internally. Every other issue that we have among ourselves has been resolved internally and we will continue to do that because we have our internal mechanism to resolve conflicts.
“The noise you are hearing now, are from people that are no longer members of the collaboration and are determined to bring the name and the integrity of the association into disrepute. The association will not fold its hands and look at them to engage in a campaign of calumny against the association and beyond that, if they fail to desist from their conduct, the association will not hesitate to take a legal action against them.
“As an association, we are actually a pressure group to speak for or against the policies of the government and that we have been doing. Some people do not see any reason for us to do that and only if they are members of the association and they are able to convince us against what we are doing, otherwise, we don’t have any issue among ourselves except for people who are no longer members of the collaboration.”
Speaking on lack of trust in the leadership of the organization as the reason the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria, MWUN and the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW left the organization, he insisted that there was never a time the issue of trust had come up in COMTUA as there had never been any case of financial misappropriation or criminal allegation.
His words, “COMTUA does not have any issue of trust and let me correct you, Maritime Workers’ Union pulled out in 2021 and that was under the administration of Otunba Olaleye Thompson. However, the Maritime Workers’ Union pulled out basically because they are actually not transporters, they are dockworkers, seafarers, NPA employees and so on. They came into this collaboration on the ground that they were going to strengthen us whenever we are going to make demands from the government such that they will also embark on industrial action whenever we will be withdrawing our services and on several occasions when we demanded for them to give us this kind of support, they were unable to provide it because of their relationship with the Nigeria Ports Authority and their status as NPA employees.
“They often do not cooperate with us when we have demands to make of NPA. However, we were managing the relationship even though I was not the president at that time. For example, we wrote to NPA demanding to know why the electronic call up regime is not functioning properly and we expected the Maritime Workers’ Union as decided in the meeting to be part of signatories to this letter, but the President of the Maritime Workers Union declined his signature.
“There was never a time the NURTW withdrew their membership of COMTUA. The present co-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations is Prof. Ibikunle Baruwa who is the President of NURTW. COMTUA does not have any issue of trust with anybody. There is nothing like financial misappropriation in COMTUA, there is nothing like criminal allegations in COMTUA and those that actually withdrew their membership from COMTUA, have their personal reasons for doing so and we don’t have a problem with that and we have moved on.
“And as much as about four associations have withdrawn their membership of the collaboration, six more associations have applied and are now members of COMTUA. We have the Green Initiative, Maritime Truck Drivers, the Lekki Fertilizer Group, the Arewa Group, the Marine Beach operators, Amuwo-Odofin Truck Operators and the rest of them. So, the collaboration is ongoing and we are waxing stronger and that is why you are seeing everybody showing concern about the existence of COMTUA. If COMTUA had issues, nobody would want to associate with it.”
On what the organization had been able to achieve since its inception about five years ago, he said, “Before COMTUA came into existence, a lot of issues were associated with the maritime transport industry. For example, we were faced with traffic, congestion, and the challenges of returning empty containers. It was through COMTUA that the introduction of holding bays where our members do not have to return empty containers to the port was actualized. What we do now is to return empty containers to the holding bays. It has saved the industry a lot of stress in the area of container deposit.
“Before now, when you load cargo, after discharging the cargo, you will be on the road for weeks before you are able to return the empty containers. The importer is incurring demurrage and the truck is also stucked. We no longer return empty containers to the port, we return them to the holding bays across Lagos State and beyond. This saves us a lot of turnaround time and this was an Initiative of COMTUA to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Nigerian Ports Authority.
“Before now, the congestion in the port area is not only limited to the condition of the road, our drivers, from time to time, we are also educating them on the need to be more professional in their conduct and I can assure you, in recent times, the rate of accident has reduced and our drivers are more professional now. In addition to this, you will understand that COMTUA has been faced with a lot of challenges vis-a-vis so many unpopular policies of the government and we do not hesitate often to engage the government in policy making. For example, in the past, when the federal government was setting up the Presidential Task Team, members of COMTUA were included in that project and that project stayed for a period and served some of the purposes even though there were challenges.”
Photo: Mr. Adeyinka Aroyewun, National President, COMTUA.
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