ONSLAUGHTS ON NWABUNIKE ARE FUELED BY ENVY AND SELFISHNESS
—– SONNIEL ONOCHIE
AGAIN, THE PRESTIGE BLENDED MAGAZINE RECENTLY ENGAGED THE VICE CHAIRMAN OF ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN LICENCED CUSTOMS AGENTS,ANLCA, TINCAN CHAPTER, MR. SONNIEL EBOYEM ONOCHIE, IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW IN HIS APAPA OFFICE. HE HAD A ROBUST TIME TO SPEAK ON THE GENESIS OF ANLCA IMBROGLIO, AND THOSE WHO DO NOT WANT THE CURRENT NATIONAL PRESIDENT,HON. IJU TONY NWABUNIKE TO SUCCEED AND WHY THE CRISIS HAS CONTINUED DESPITE ALL ENTREATIES.
ANLCA SO FAR; HOW FAR, HOW WELL ?
All is well and good; ANLCA is good. It is an association founded since 1954, still strong and great. ANLCA is good and going places, and is also good and not going places. I have to explain the two. Everybody in ANLCA today is a joiner. If l am not right, 90% of us are all joiners. My father’s name is not ANLCA, and nobody bears that name. So the fact that we are all joiners makes it incumbent on us to make ANLCA better than we found it . The Association will in no doubt outlive all of us . We must leave ANLCA stronger and better for upcoming ones to take over and continue after us, and that will happen only if we learn to embrace peace and always do the right thing. Sonniel Onochie is not ANLCA, the National President, Iju Tony Nwabunike is not ANLCA, a day shall come he will leave the office. Prince Shittu was there before him, and at the expiration of his tenure,he left the office, and that is how it has been and will continue that way , it is ‘soldier come soldier go’. So ANLCA will keep on growing stronger if we always respect its constitutional provisions and always strive to get it right.
SIR, CAN YOU MENTION ONE OR TWO THINGS YOU FEEL ARE NOT PROPERLY DONE BY NWABUNIKE’S ADMINISTRATION ?
As far as Sonniel Onochie is concerned, whatever they are saying about Tony Iju does not hold water. And to me, my concern is not Tony Iju per say but the stability of ANLCA as one big family. Remember they are not castigating Tony , they are desecrating ANLCA as an association. If Iju leaves that seat today , he is no longer ANLCA president; the seat remains there for another person to occupy. So people are castigating Iju Tony Nwabunike as ANLCA President why, because he is and still remains the President. Our former president, Prince Olayiwola Shittu was there for eight good years, at the expiration of his tenure he bowed out and left the seat for Tony Iju. But the basic fact remains that every leader has his style of leadership. It can never be the same because we were created differently; and that makes our leadership styles vary . Olayiwola Shittu’s leadership style is different from that of Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike’s. Iju Nwabunike is the kind of person that says “let’s forget the past and carry everyone along”, and that is because of his Christian background; he is a core Christian and he demonstrates that in his style of leadership. People don’t care but Iju cares. Like what transpired at PTML, l know that’s one of the things you want to know, and l will tell you. What happened at PTML was extremely annoying and roundly condemnable, and no leader of Tony Iju’s status will accept such embarrassment , l am not looking at Tony Iju as a person but the seat he is occupying. Every one of them fighting Iju today is fighting for the soul of ANLCA. Everyone wants to be there but they should bear in mind that people have been there before . Take a critical look at it, you will find out that those that are really castigating and attacking Tony Iju are his own people. When Olayiwola Shittu contested for ANLCA president in the election held at Concord Hotel Owerri, there was this man from Edo State who contested against him. No Yoruba supported Shittu at the Owerri election which he won. Until we came back to Lagos after he had won the election.
Because he needed that support, he went to core Yorubas and pledged loyalty to them. Tijaco, a revered Maritime Practitioner, called all of them together and told them to support Shittu to succeed and they agreed. Then few of us who are Igbos had no alternative than to support Shittu because we nominated him to contest in the election. Chief Henry Njoku was the one who asked Shittu to stand for the election and he obliged and contested. And we gave him all the support he needed to win and as ANLCA President, Chief Henry Njoku was solidly behind him , so because the Yorubas threw their weight behind him, his first tenure was very successful though not devoid of crises but was able to manage them excellently well until the expiration of his first tenure. In his second tenure came a gang up at Rockview Hotel, FESTAC; in the end, the Igbos agreed that he had to go for a second term.
Towards the end of Shittu’s administration, we started hearing rumors of presidential aspirants of Igbo extraction because it was our turn. Emenike came up , Tony Iju also declared interest. We had two camps, Emenike Campaign Organization,ECO, and Tony Iju Campaign Organization, TICO. I, Ada Akpunonu and some others were the pioneer members of TICO right from Santiago Hotel at Amuwo Odofin, where it was inaugurated. From there we started campaigning, but the problem with us, the Igbos, is that we refuse to look at things the way they are. Maybe because of our ego, and if we don’t deal with it,it will keep spoiling a lot of things for us.
When we started TICO, l was the one in charge of Media, we went to Enugu for election ,after the election,Tony won with three votes; that was the first time l saw Segun Odutan smoking cigarettes with reckless abandon. It was a shocker to the other camp, though it was a very tough contest , they never believed what they saw, the heat was way too much. After the announcement of the results,the problem started.
This issue of Tony Iju, no Tony Iju, started right from Enugu. As l said earlier, every body has his or her style of leadership. Regrettably, 95% of our Igbo members who are prominent in the Association have been working against Him.
Like l told you before, Tijaco called his Yoruba brothers together and told them to support Shittu during his tenure. And the same thing Fano has tried to do, he has invited Igbo Stakeholders three times at Golden Tulip, but because of ego and hatred for Iju, they declined attending. So Iju became one man squad, and because of his gentlemanly disposition, he calmed down to watch them showcase their madness and we still watched events until when he rose up to say enough is enough. Who are the people fighting him, l will name the Igbos not other tribes; Sir Elochukwu, Sir Ofobuike, Barr.Ada Akpunonu, Mudons and Denca, these are Igbos from Anambra State, his own brothers and sister. The man that contested with Iju has gone to do his business in Porthacourt, all these things they are doing, attacking and castigating Iju, no one has said Emenike said this or Emenike said that; he has quietly focused on his business because the Enugu election was very transparent. But our Igbo brothers have vowed not to see Tony succeed as the National President of ANLCA.
What is the genesis of these; a day to the inauguration of Iju Nwabunike at Golden Tulip Hotel, Amuwo Odofin, the issue of BoT came up which had never happened in ANLCA. The President was being inaugurated and at the same time, a BoT election was being held . So, as far as l am concerned, that election remains null and void. The BoT issue was triggered by desperation, overzealousness, and selfishness. But be it as it may, after that election, Shittu congratulated Iju ; Aare Ona Kakanfo was there, Shittu congratulated me personally; ” Sonniel congratulations, you won the election for Iju”. Because l was in the forefront of the exercise. One Gideon Nwagbaraocha was for ECO, while l was for TICO, to the extent, that it created enmity between us . After all said and done, the inauguration went well, but to our amazement, a Kangaroo BoT election was being organized at a different venue without the knowledge of most Association members. And that threw up confusion. If l may ask, why all the antagonisms, why the desperation, why the unnecessary power tussle. And if you look at it very well, 99% of these people were made in ANLCA, and they are trying to bring down the Association that made them who they are today. Who is who in ANLCA today made all their money from ANLCA. Whatever they think they are, they all rose in ANLCA, name them !
My first election as a PRO was conducted by Prince Olayiwola Shittu as the ASECO Chairman; l served Prince Ozo Chukwurah as PRO in TinCan, in my second tenure l served under Kayode as PRO, l have paid my dues in ANLCA. So whoever that is telling you that Iju is not doing well is talking nonsense; he has his style of leadership and mind you, those saying he is not doing anything are the same people who are trying to make him fail as ANLCA President. I say it again, because of his Christian background he does not want to offend anybody. But today, he has woken up.
Some people are parading themselves as Chairmen and all that, after election by affirmation which has never happened in the history of ANLCA. Since 1954, it has never happened and it is not in the history of the association. Tell anyone claiming to be a chapter executive member to bring his or her certificate of return for you to see whether it was signed by the National President of ANLCA or not. I am directing you to Alhaji Mojeed in particular, tell him to show you who and who signed his certificate of return. The time he served under Late Kayode Oyinlola and tell him to produce the one that returned him as Chairman, let him show you where the National President and ASECO Chairman signed. That alone will tell you that whatever activities he is carrying out at TinCan Chapter are null and void. We are following it with peace because Tony Iju is a peaceful man, so we want to follow it in a peaceful way. But in a very short while, everything will return to normal; they are disturbing themselves unnecessarily, that’s my own take on that.
OJO/ONOCHIE LEADERSHIP; HOW HAS IT PROGRESSED SO FAR ?
As far as l am concerned, Ojo Peters Akintoye and Onochie Sonniel as well as all our team members are foot soldiers, we are moving progressively; speaking to those that matter in Shipping Companies as well as Terminal Operators and other relevant stakeholders. One thing that is very unique about our team is that we are all field men. We know the challenges as field men. We know the challenges faced by agents because we are also facing the same challenges as field men. How many times have you seen Mojeed and Co., going around to solve problems for Agents , they relax in the office the are illegally occupying, telling them to bring their problems to the Secretariat. But we are always on ground solving problems. We know where the shoe pinches. Seven of us are field men. It is only after Ojo and his team have gone to fight the course of agents at a particular area, you see them the next day heading towards that direction, parading themselves as executive of ANLCA TinCan Chapter. I am directing all these to Mojeed, he is my friend and individually, both of us know what each other can do. So l am advising him to honourably go back to ANLCA Secretariat and take up an appointment and leave this executive alone to perform their duty.
HAVE YOUR TEAM BEEN INTRODUCED TO THE AREA CONTROLLER AND OTHER AGENCIES ?
Recently our team was taken to the TinCan CAC, by Hon .Iju Tony Nwabunike for introduction and familiarization. Now l need you to ask Mojeed and his team who introduced them as TinCan Chapter Executive if not Ofobuike that is parading himself as Western Zone Chairman. He has forgotten all the support we gave to him in Porthacourt when he had the accident that paralyzed one of his hands. I and Late Dave Kanikwu who was popularly known as Owele were with him in that vehicle. The one and only Owele, well known for Association politics. It was after Kanikwu’s death they conspired within themselves to make Chief Mike Okolochi Vice Chairman to Segun Odutan without our consent. They took the Igbos for granted because he occupied Igbo position, no Igbo man was carried along in that decision not even one. They grossly disregarded everybody and within their caucus decided to impose Chief Okolochi on us; a complete stooge, a Vice Chairman that has not risen for once to speak for Agents, a follow- follow man, “let’s go this way”, “yes Sir”! “let’s go that way”, “yes Sir”! He has never championed a course . But frankly speaking, l don’t blame him because he has never played Association politics in his life . It was the death of David Kanikwu that brought him to lime light. And even the election that brought Prince Odutan in as TinCan Chapter Chairman at Villa Park was a charade because Ojo Peters beat him hands down in that election but the cabal rigged it to favour Odutan. It was Prince Shittu, Emma Okpara, our present Secretary General, Alhaji Mukaila, that rigged the election for Odutan . Ojo won him clearly and because we wanted peace to reign we left it that way and forged ahead. These people l mentioned robbed Ojo of his victory at Villa Park. Okpara confessed to me that all the petitions l wrote concerning the fraudulent election were shredded on Shittu’s instruction. He is alive today, call him and ask him. Odutan that never served ANLCA at any level was made Chairman against the constitutional provision. They brought him from Apapa Chapter and imposed him on us as TinCan Chapter Chairman; that was why we refused and joined forces with Ojo Peters and went for the election which he won but was robbed of victory. And those that robbed him then are still kicking against his chairmanship at TinCan, why ! But in all, Ojo will successfully serve out his tenure. And good a thing, it is now a single tenure of four years. There is no more second term , after a single term of four years you leave the office for another person to take over. That is the beauty of it. Thanks to NECOM for the brilliant decision.