Our Expectations of New ANLCA President, by Olayiwola Shittu


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• Recalls how alleged fraud in Nwabunike’s election was ignored for peace
• Says Emenike’s victory was protest to last electoral loss
• Blames Farinto for not attending inauguration
• Reveals how Farinto could have been ANLCA President

By Francsi Ugwoke
Former President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, has advised the new President of the association , Chief Emenike Nwokeoji to maintain an open door policy of reaching out to all members for an enduring peace in the customs agents body.
Shittu said with the election over, the best is for the new President to accommodate all members irrespective of whether they supported him or not during the last election.
In an exclusive interview with SHIPPING DAY, the former President while describing Nwokeoji as a man of quality leadership, peace and intelligence, urged him to work hard in bringing ANLCA to one united family.
He disclosed that this was how he advised the former ANLCA President, Iju Tony Nwabunike, even after noticing some flaws in his emergence some years ago.
He advised Nwokeoji to remember that some members may be opposed to this, but argued that it was the best to move the association forward.
He pointed out that Emenike’s victory this time around was as a result of his past record of being on the path of peace and quality leadership.
According to him, while it is easy to win an election, it is a different thing afterwards for an election that was based on battle.
When asked on what would be his candid advice to the new executive, Shittu told SHIPPING DAY, “we need to look at what the association used to be. I agree with you that ANLCA has had one crisis after another. When I came into office, I had 17 cases, including member to member, association to member. What I did was to open the door. Then I reached out to those who contested against me. I visited them, one of them, Prince Taiye Oyeniyi, he was the kingpin of the anti-Shittu movement. I knocked on his door by 5am and said, let us move together. There are people who will quickly adapt to your advice, there are those who think your advice will lead them astray, they go into doubt about what you are saying”.
Shittu alleged that the election in which former President, Nwabunike emerged as President was not free and fair, but he ignored the issues for peace to reign in the association.
He added that even at that Nwabunike was hard in giving a hand of cooperation to his opponent, Emenike, who lost the election. Shittu explained that this was because of his supporters who felt that the margin of votes was not enough.
He revealed that even when he discovered the alleged electoral violation, he still did not want to take action that would affect the peace of the association.
He said, “The election in Enugu was not free and fair. I could just have taken a Presidential step and say this election is not acceptable. Because by our Constitution, if the President did not inaugurate you, that election is as good as not held. Because the three votes gotten from Emenike for which he lost was re-arranged from Portharcourt. Some people who don’t have licences, not to talk of being credible, participated in the election. In fact, the actors then confirmed this was what they did. But I ignored this. I called for the inauguration because I wanted stability. I told the two contestants that whoever wins should congratulate the other after for the sake of ANLCA. So that day after the election, Emenike got up after the election and hugged Iju. But those who were his own supporters (Iju) were not happy that the gap was so small, rather it is Tony don’t listen to those people oo. What pains me is the length of time it took for people to realize it is not worth it. This election that brought Emenike back, it was as a result of those who felt there was no reason why Emenike lost that time, that now said, come off it, we cannot repeat this arrangement like before. So, the drum started beating from the East whereby people are saying this time around, it is Emenike. And of course, I let it known to everybody that I did not support Iju because I had to support my Vice President, not because of where he comes from but for 8 years , he was a backbone for everything we did. So, if he wants to go there, why will I deny him? I won’t be like governors in Nigeria who deny their deputies such chance of taking over from them. And Tony Iju was aware of my position. But I was not campaigning against him because I knew no matter what you do, those who want to vote will vote and majority will carry the vote”.
Shittu said Nwabunike called Emenike nine months after the election, a development, he described as not good.
The former President also said that Dr. Kayode Farinto could have been President if he followed the advice given to him to claim the seat when Nwabunike left.
He explained, “when Tony left, rather than Farinto claiming to be Acting President which is not in our constitution, he would have called a NEC meeting for the affirmation of his position as President. He would have spent his first 4 years and from there stand for re-election”.
According to Shittu, there was such precedent in the association in the past, not that one is bringing something new.
“Farinto toiled with the idea when he talked about one term of 5 years”, he said, adding that this was not carried by everyone.
Shittu further revealed that Farinto thought he was being misled, stating that nobody would have raised eyebrows because it is covered by the Constitution.
Shittu disclosed that Farinto even though he was reported to have congratulated Emenike after the election, but rejected his calls.
“He (Emenike) wrote a letter to him, inviting him to the inauguration, but he did not come. He congratulated Emenike but people who are beating the drum of discord criticized him for congratulating Emenike. He would have had a lot of honour if he had come for the inauguration. I persuaded Emenike to come for the inauguration of Iju and he was there. But Emenike is different, he is quite, but very intelligent. I was surprised Farinto did not come for the inauguratio. “Peter Obi wrote to the association, wrote to the President that he had surgery. Njoku said he did not have time to come.
“If we want to keep the association as one, when decisions are made by the majority, we abide by it because that election has no reason to become controversial. Third parties arranged it, everyone was there and Emenike had 10 votes more than his opponent. All he (Farinto) needed to do was to play along. What happened to Emenike may happen to Farinto who is a young man. He has so many years ahead of him. People will remember you with time that this guy has tried for the association. Emenike may even do one term and say I don taya. He is capable of doing that, not that he told me”.


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