There are many associations and unions in the maritime industry. They exist for different reasons depending on the purpose for their establishment. Their set goals and objectives also differ. These organisations are not unknown to those in the maritime industry. Some of them are not more than a collection of friends or those who speak the same language or share similarity of origin in the country. In some cases, decisions are taken in one man bedroom and passed down the throats of the rest. There is no clear cut roadmap in their leadership succession. Where it exists at all, it is hardly adhere to.
This is not unconnected with the fact that they have no laid down structures and hierarchy that can stand the test of time. This is where the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) differs. It is on record that many helmsmen in the other associations in the maritime industry were hitherto chieftains of ANLCA.
Established in 1954, ANLCA has continued to show the way while others follow. Since its establishment, it has continued to weather the storm with the implementation of its constitution, especially in the elections of its officials and taking of decisions that affect its membership.
For decades, the association which remains the umbrella body for licensed customs agents in the country has been has been leading the way for others to follow. I short, it leads while others follow. Only last Thursday, it took a major step to show that it does not run a â€œone man showâ€ when its members all over the country met in the Rivers State capital, Port Harcourt for its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.
The biennial meeting was well attended with the chieftains of the association in the various chapters across the country in attendance. The venue of the meeting, Swiss Spirit Hotels and Suits, along Stadium Road was a beehive of activities. Besides all NEC and Board of Trustees (BOT) members, Zonal officers, all chapter executive officers, and some invited Elders of ANLCA, the meeting was attended by the Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali (retired) and the Registrar, Council for Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (CRFFN), Sir Mike Jukwe. The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) boss was represented by the Zonal Coordinator, Zone C, ACG Sanusi.
To underscore its importance, no fewer than 18 chapters of the association spread across the six geo-political zones of the country submitted written reports with applause or hisses trailing each of them depending on its content and the delivery by the chapter helmsmen.
Though the challenges facing each of the chapters differ but a common trend ran through all of them. Besides the fact that they have similar operational challenges of multiple alerts on cargoes which slows down NCS clearance procedures, extortion, NCS querying of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), bad access roads to the nationâ€™s seaports, airports and international borders stand as a sour thumb in the mouth.
Others are lack of cargo benchmark for especially vehicles, server/network regularly breaking down, involvement of NCS officers in the clearing of cargoes and the multiplicity government agencies.
Far reaching decisions were reached at the NEC meeting which was presided over by the National President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu. These include the position of the association on port operational fee (POF), National Assembly investigation of some importers; association electoral commission (ASECO), NPA annual renewal fee and registration requirements.
Others are CRFFN;
anti-association activities; civic reception for members in political/governmental positions;
protests/strike action; use of shocking devices on members by NPA; joint committee of ANLCA and NCS on the ease of doing business ports. In all, the Eastern Zone led by the Zonal Co-ordinator, Chief Dennis Okwu did everything its reach to be good host. This is worthy of emulation by other associations in the maritime industry.