Chief Achike Christopher Molokwu

Members are sabotaging the conduct of IMF elections – Molokwu

Chairman Igbo Maritime Electoral Committee (IMEC), Chief Achike Christopher Molokwu in this interview speaks on the rationale behind the setting up of the Igbbo Maritime Forum. Molokwu equally spoke on challenges currently facing the conduct of elections into the forum’s elective positions. He spoke with Uju OZoeze.

What led to the setting up of the Igbo Maritime Forum’s Electoral Committee (IMEC) given that the forum has always had appointed executives? 
Sometime in the month of March this year, the Igbos in the maritime industry gathered in a general meeting and in that meeting we decided to terminate the appointment of the present executives and agreed that it is time we organise an election ushering in new executives. So in that very meeting a seven-man committee was nominated out of which I was selected to chair.

It was rumoured that the committee has been dissolved, is this true?
As you heard so I heard it. I travelled to Port-Harcourt to clear some consignments when some members called to brief me on the issue. As a matter of fact, they call themselves Concerned Igbo Freight Forwarders. When they briefed me they told me their agenda was purely for the CRFFN issue, because as you know there is problem among the igbos in the Council, and at the end of the deliberations one of them brought in the igbo maritime forum into the discussion. I then asked who chaired the meeting and I was told it was the MD of Fano, Chief Damien Obianigwe, who happens to be contesting for the position of the President General, and that also the meeting was Prince Ozo Chukwura who is also vying for a position. I further asked who made the pronouncement and I was told that it was Chief Damien who pronounced that they should get a five man committee that will reconcile the igbos contesting, some sort of a reconciliation committee. And at the end of the day, at that setting, it was asked what will happen to IMEC itself and it was then they said that he now pronounced that IMEC is suspended and put aside. I was told that nobody reacted to his pronouncement and they all departed. It was later that they realized it was very much unconstitutional. The man has no right to make such pronouncements. However, since the thing was not communicated officially to IMEC we cannot react and that was why IMEC went on air through Ships & Ports on Choice FM103.5 giving hope to the candidates that there was going to be elections for the position of the President General down to the Provost General.

As the chairman of the committee, can you tell us why the committee has been fixing and re-fixing dates for the forum’s upcoming elections?
IMEC has actually rolled out two time-tables which was crushed by members. The first one, we actually fixed the date for May for us to conduct the elections but the general house said no that they wanted more membership so the electoral body has to relax. We came up again with a second time-table in which the elections were put for the first week of June and the house also cancelled it. What am saying is that it is not the making of the committee itself because the committee actually showed all the members how far they have gone, that technically and administratively logistics about the elections has been done. The voters’ cards, the voters list of names, the tags to be given to the aspirants has been made. Every logistics has been made. What actually remain for the committee to put in place are the security & the venue. This has been giving us problems and we’ve told the general house that we need money but then the money is not forth coming. The point is that we took over from zero because the outgoing executives could not hand over one kobo to us. So, we were told to source money and we started getting money from registration- for new member N2000 while for old member N1000. From all these amounts we got close to N500000 and with this amount we were able to do what have done so far. At the end of the day, we are incurring deficit as the expenditure is much more than the income. The account is open for everybody. So what remains are these two important logistics- the security and the venue. For your information we registered about 450 members, both new and old, based on what the constitution says.

Is there hope that the election will be conducted fairly?
I have actually undergone ANLCA elections four times as an aspirant and this has given me the inspiration to introduce and infuse this experience that I have gone through to the igbo maritime.
So I actually introduced what is called standard to the electoral body, right from the beginning. That was why we started rolling out regulations and modalities to members, sensitizing them on what it is going to look like, that it is going to be a secret open ballot and they were all happy. We introduced what is called the modern system of voting, from the membership to the materials. This is the first time the igbo maritime forum is introducing an election, over the years it has been on appointment. So, this is the time we finally agreed to formalize our executives and make them what is called ‘executive executives’ by coming together to vote for a particular person to occupy a particular office and it will be authentic.

What do you think of the aspirants vying for the position of President General?
I am quite impressed seeing the calibre of people coming to collect form for this election, it is quite encouraging. People like the MD of Fano Bonded Terminal, Chief Damien Obianigwe and Mr Basil Nwaolisa coming to collect form for presidency; Prince Ozo Chukwura and Dr Obicee coming to collect form for deputy, for the position of secretary we have about three of them, and so on. At the end of the day we have almost seventeen candidates coming out to collect forms.

There is something peculiar about the candidates you just mentioned their names which is that they are all members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), does this mean that only ANLCA members are interested in occupying the political positions of the forum? 
No! We still have Godfrey Nwosu, he collected form for presidency and he is a NAGAFF member. As a matter of fact, Igbo Maritime Forum has nothing to do with ANLCA, NAGAFF or whatever. What we are saying is the igbo extraction in the maritime industry- transporters, stevedores, just the igbos in the maritime. We are seriously well represented in the maritime industry but the question is are we coordinated? We are not coordinated. If it were left to me, i would want the Ohaneze ndi igbo to bring the igbos in the maritime industry together and coordinate us. You know the maritime industry is second to none and if the igbos are well coordinated in the maritime industry the sky will be our limit.

Do you see foresee impending problems with the elections? 
Yes! That is exactly what is dragging us backwards because this election, to me, the way we modified and made preparations we would have done this election. But you know how difficult an igbo man can be. This one wants to introduce his own system and so does every other! They keep on forming groups amongst themselves, concerned group of this and that, and they end up leaving the association to form their own groups just to better themselves. Such has been giving us problems.

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