Alhaji Muhammed Mojeed, ANLCA Chair, TinCan Chapter
I WILL SUPPORT EARNEST EFFORTS TO RESOLVE ANLCA CRISES —– MUHAMMED MOJEED
RECENTLY, THE PUBLISHER OF PRESTIGE BLENDED ONLINE MAGAZINE, MCANTHONY UDOCHUKWU ONUOHA, HAD AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE NEWLY ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN LICENSED CUSTOMS AGENTS(ANLCA), TINCAN CHAPTER, ALHAJI MUHAMMED MOJEED, IN HIS OFFICE IN LAGOS. HE HAD ROBUST TIME TO SPEAK ON THE CRISES ROCKING THE ASSOCIATION AND THE NEED FOR LASTING PEACE, THE WELFARE OF MEMBERS, THE CHALLENGES POSED BY THE PERENNIAL GRIDLOCK ON APAPA PORT CORRIDORS, AND SOME OF HIS SET GOALS. ENJOY THE EXCERPT !
SIR, YOU HAVE JUST ASSUMED OFFICE AS CHAIRMAN, ANLCA, TINCAN CHAPTER, HAVING WON THE ELECTION FOR THE OFFICE, WHAT WILL YOU DO DIFFERENTLY AT THE CHAPTER ?
I am happy that you are aware of the crises in ANLCA, it has been lingering overtime, but nevertheless,some could come in and be a solution to a boiling situation .l believe my stepping in as Chairman, TinCan Chapter of ANLCA, will make the whole difference by the special grace of God. l have to mend fences,l am a bridge builder.lt is true ANLCA is factionalized for now due to the lingering crises,but we shall resolve it to give peace a chance and to the glory of God. The crises has cost us a lot, from Shipping Companies to the terminals,to Customs to police. Agents have been badly treated overtime, but my coming in will address most of the issues on ground. I have already hit the ground running,and my team have started strategizing in order to deliver on the tasks ahead. We have a lot of challenges facing us. And when you don’t put your house in order, you won’t be able to fight and defeat your enemies. I will take the necessary steps to unite my leaders; they will listen to the voice of reason, they will listen to Muhammed Mojeed by the grace of God. I believe it will not continue this way . My first step will be frantic attempt to get my leaders together and make them see reasons to resolve whatever differences militating against the peace and harmony we enjoyed at ANLCA .
Nevertheless, as it were, l know the system too well. I have been in the field for over thirty years; l know the challenges of my professional colleagues. I know their problems. For instance, we have challenges at Ports and Cargo; a situation your container would arrive , without even sighting your consignment they start accumulating demurrage on it. We met with the MD, and he gave us his word. He has agreed to be granting us a kind of waiver by considering 7 or 5 days free for us to recover our losses, that’s the step we have so far taken. I have been making a move to see other stakeholders. We need to interface with the Customs and make them look into some of those things causing delays in releasing of consignments after duties are paid. These are major steps we want to take.
SIR, I KNOW THAT A LOT OF CHALLENGES ARE FACING YOU AS YOU HAVE JUST ASSUMED OFFICE; WE HAVE OTHER ASSOCIATIONS AS WELL, ASIDE ANLCA; HOW WILL YOU RELATE WITH THEM ?
The issue of all the associations, be it NAGAFF, ARFFN, Council For Managing Directors and so on not coming together to chart a way forward for all maritime practitioners is indeed out of order. We have a common challenge. What NAGAFF members are facing in the ports is the same thing ANLCA members are facing. It affects every association within the industry. We have a common enemy to fight.
This is my first week in office; we need to invite them at a round table to seek a way forward because it is very necessary since we cannot continue like this. My success is their success too. If these people can work and get it right and my team also strive to get it right at our own end all will be happy. There is need for us to work as brothers and sisters ; that is going to be in my agenda in the coming days.
SIR,AS ANLCA CHIEFTAIN, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ABOUT COUNCIL FOR REGULATION OF FREIGHT FORWARDING PRACTICE IN NIGERIA (CRFFN), HOW HAS THE COUNCIL IMPACTED CUSTOMS LICENSED AGENTS ?
As per CRFFN, l would not really want to delve into their matter because from onset, we never believed in CRFFN as we don’t see them as Customs brokers or licensed agents. So if you look at it properly, those in the industry are not taking them seriously because they are not serving any practical purpose presently. People are not buying their ideas. Maybe, that could change after much sensitization and impactful actions. That’s why l don’t want us to delve into their issue.
SIR, THE LITTLE WHILE I SAT AT THE RECEPTION, I NOTICED THAT THE SECRETARIAT HAS ONCE AGAIN COME ALIVE, ACTIVITIES HAVE REALLY INCREASED UNLIKE WHAT WAS WITNESSED IN THE PAST ADMINISTRATION. WOULD YOU SAY YOUR PERSONALITY IS MAKING THE DIFFERENCE, AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO TELL YOUR MEMBERS ?
I have already hit the ground running. I was at Ports & Cargo to address some of my professional colleagues the other day, definitely, if you are working without information, it means you are doing nothing. We have to work and at the same time disseminate information to them. Despite preparing our foundation, my predecessor did a lot,l am also following his footsteps, but will definitely add my own touch. We also have to do something differently to achieve better results. We shall improve on whatever good legacies he left on ground by the grace of God Almighty. He had a lot of challenges when he came on board; crises here and there, court cases and other distractions indeed made him not to perform the way he intended to . He tried his best and we appreciate him. And secondly, every leader has his or her leadership style. The way Mr. A functions can not be the way Mr.B does.
WHAT ADVISE DO YOU HAVE TO GIVE TO THE WARRING FACTIONS ?
They are our leaders; there is still room for reconciliation. I know quite well that a solution to all the crises will be proffered at last and peace and harmony will return to ANLCA. What we are fighting for is immaterial . Every position is transient, nothing lasts forever. Serve out your three years and give way for another person to serve. Even the life we live is temporary. So what’s the need to continue fighting for nothing. The legacy you leave behind will speak for you tomorrow. That’s why l must advise them to see reasons to resolve those differences .
Nobody takes anything along to his or her grave, none. So why are we fighting ? Let them write their names in gold. Let their professional colleagues know that these are the people that alleviated their sufferings and gave them reasons to remain in business. Those are the things l have as advise . The issue of ” l want to be the head of this or that should not give anyone a headache. Things are bound to take their shapes overtime. We have to end the fight . Is it money ; who goes to the grave with his money. So let’s leave a legacy that will sustain our names even long after we have gone. That’s my advise to them .
SIR, ASIDE ANLCA CRISES, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON APAPA TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK ?
We are appealing to the government. The traffic issue has caused us a lot . Check out difficulties in cargo loading . In December last year, people paid as much as One million Naira to load to places they were loading for N80.000. Imagine the pains, the loss, the trauma. Many importers lost their money. That’s why you see prices of consumer goods skyrocket. Most of them are goods they were spending 200-300,000 to truck to warehouse, suddenly, it rose to 1.6 million Naira. They have to spread the costs to recoup their losses and those that suffer at last are the end users. We appeal to both the Government and the contractors to quickly complete the ongoing rehabilitation of port roads to enable free flow of traffic . Once that is done, those hinging on the construction to milk ports users will stop their criminal activities.
We are talking of e- call-up system, and it is necessary that all Shipping Companies and trucks owners have their holding bays and truck terminals . Sometimes it takes 2-3 weeks to return empty containers to the Ports because of gridlock and ports congestion. And the major reason is lack of holding bays. If they are made available and the roads are completed in good time, most of the challenges we are facing will definitely become a thing of the past. There will be a change. The Government has to be proactive . Let those rehabilitating the roads be fast about it . Let them finish it on time . These are the biggest challenges we are facing presently that need to be urgently addressed by the authorities.
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ON CUSTOMS /AGENTS RELATIONSHIP AT TINCAN , WOULD YOU SAY THERE IS COMPLIANCE ?
So many things are going on between Customs and Agents , but we still need to talk to people at the top to talk to their people. For instance, you go to collect value, and you are given, in the course of delivery, a Two Star Officer would query a value given to you by a DC. I think it is wrong. We are going to engage them ; have an interface with their OCs ; l believe something good will come out of the discussion at the end of the day.
SIR, FORMALLY, SOME OF YOUR PREDECESSORS USED TO WALK INTO THE LONGROOM TO ADDRESS AGENTS EACH TIME THERE WAS A CHANGE IN POLICY OR ISSUES RELATING TO THE PROFESSION, THAT, WE NO LONGER SEE HAPPENING THESE DAYS. WHAT INFORMED THE GAP IN COMMUNICATION, COULD IT BE LEADERSHIP STYLE OR COMPLEX, IT WAS HAPPENING UNTIL AFTER DR. KAYODE FARINTO’S ADMINISTRATION BUT STOPPED FROM THAT OF OYINLOLA. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THAT ?
Initially,l mentioned that the reason why the immediate former Chairman didn’t perform the way he ought to have performed is because of the lingering ANLCA crises. The crises consumed almost three years off his administration . And when one doesn’t have time to even settle down to relate with his people ; it is likely the person will have problem. Today in court , tomorrow in court; how do you expect such leader to deliver. So, he tried his best and we appreciate him. And secondly, every leader has his or her leadership style. I still reiterate, the way Mr.A coordinates his people may not be the way Mr.B does.
SIR, THE IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN, PRINCE SEGUN ODUTAN, INITIATED A HEALTH SCHEME FOR ELDERLY MEMBERS OF THE CHAPTER ON HIS ASSUMPTION OF OFFICE. ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE A CRITICAL LOOK AT THE SCHEME ?
I am definitely going to take up the scheme . The issue of welfare and health for every chapter member should be our utmost priority. We are going to have a briefing on that because everyone needs to stay in good health to function effectively. I will set up a committee to fashion out the ways of making the welfare scheme work, and very well too. We need to be alive and happy. So my administration will see to their welfare by the grace of God .