Speaking with journalists in his office in Amuwo-Odofin Lagos last Friday, the IMF Political Leader, Chief Peter Obih, who is also a member of the ANLCA Board of Trustees (BoT), warned that it will be foolhardy of ANLCA to cave in to the alleged demands for the re-run of its Seme Chapter elections, noting that, if this happens, “the Association will be a thing of the past.”
Obih said: “Some people are clamoring for Seme re-election, which cannot happen! If anybody tries it the association will be a thing of the past. If anybody tries to touch any of the chapters, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents will be a thing of the past! We have faulted the action of ASECO, let ASECO bear the burden. Somebody cannot go and talk about the reelection of a chapter when you know the whole thing was faulty. So, there is no need picking up one for re-election and leaving others when all was faulty. Where elections have not been conducted they are free to conduct election there but not to carry out re-elections on chapters where elections have been conducted. That is why I say that if anybody tries it in the association, there will be no association any longer and that was my stand. Am not talking now for myself I am talking on behalf of the Igbos! The only people that can talk on behalf of Igbo Maritime Forum is myself, as the Ochi Agha Ndi Igbo, and the President-General.”
The IMF chieftain blamed the recent problems facing ANLCA on the alleged play of tribal sentiments in the Association’s politics, asserting that greater problems loom ahead for ANLCA if its leaders do not handle its affairs with care.
He recounted an arrangement between the Igbo and Yoruba in ANLCA, which, according to him, could have prevented these problems if the bargain was upheld.
He said: “In past years, we have witnessed where election of ANLCA was to be conducted and people went there with arms and brought OPC (Oodua Peoples Congress) to wound the Igbo because the election wasn’t going the way they expected it. And to tackle this issue of tribalism, we went in a closed-door meeting where we decided to share the ports. We shared the ports the way it was supposed to be. You take here, we take there. First and foremost, the Yoruba said they wanted six out of nine chapters. We discussed that to the extent that the Yoruba agreed to take five chapters, while Igbo took four. This is not constitutional and was done secretly, but we had to bring it in to curb the problem. We had to adopt this to manage the problem and it went well. There was no problem again, until now that a Yoruba man is the President of the Association. The Yoruba now want to collect everywhere! If they had come when we were calling them to have meeting, there won’t be this problem, because we agreed earlier that, after the very first agreement, in the second election, the ones we took the other time will now go over to the Yoruba, and the ones the Yoruba managed the other time will have to come to us. If we had done this secretly, all these problems wouldn’t have been there. It would lessen the burden of the ASECO (Association Electoral Commission)! All these problems wouldn’t have been there, because you have known your port. It was based on that previous arrangement that I called Igbo meeting, where everybody came and I told them not to bother themselves. That was why we didn’t bother ourselves because of the previous arrangement. Only for the Yoruba to renege! If they had come up, when we were calling them for a meeting, so that we can meet and arrange this election before going to the polls, we won’t be having this problem.”
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