It is the first of its kind in the freight forwarding sub-sector of the maritime industry as the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents (ANLCA) recently commissioned an edifice that can be called its own.
The Dikko Inde House, as it is called is the structure housing the national secretariat of the association which is said to have gulped about N150 million through concerted efforts by members and well wishers.
The Secretariat is coming 60 years after ANLCA was founded. It was not an easy one, considering pockets of crises that had almost scraped the association.
But that simply defines the journey of existence, as the secretariat symbolises a consolidation of foundation for revenue generation on behalf of the Federal Government.
The role of the clearing agent or freight agent in Nigeria is essentially helping to generate revenue for the government from import and export.
Though not structured yet, they collect all the trillions that go to Customs coffers and get consultancy fee paid to them by the shipper-client
So, if they have to struggle as a professional body to generate revenue for the government, are they not entitled to a percentage of the total sum collected? This could reduce the cost doing business in the port.
But here lies an obligation to the clearing agents from government. All other associations as the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), among others, should work towards foundational consolidation for increased revenue generation for the government, but government intervention through regulatory policies and funding are key at this juncture
Prince Shittu Olayiwola, the National President of the association under whose tenure the project saw the light of the day had thought that an association that has been in existence for sixty years should have such a glorifying secretariat where the national officers could run the affairs of the association.
The celebration of 60th anniversary of any association is a landmark as well as evidence of sustainability.
However, the structure is coming at a time when the association is clamouring or fighting to be chartered. This will no doubt serve as a means of helping the association to achieve the feat.
According to the National President of the association, every human being has his time. This indeed is the time for the association to register name in the annals of history which inadvertently will project it into another level in the scheme of things.
Speaking to the press immediately after the commissioning, Prince Olayiwola alluded the success of the new secretariat building to synergy and cooperation among all the members of the association.
“It was not done by only me, and that is why when I am talking, I recognise individuals because they have impacts in our lives. I am very pleased to see past president sitting down here identifying with this progress because they were responsible for building the structure to which we were asked to come and cap. So, they are part of the foundation of this association.
I cannot but thank the Comptroller General for his contribution towards the success of the project”.
To him, the combined contributions of individuals gave birth to the new edifice which will henceforth make the association a landlord and no longer a tenant.
The representative of the Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, said the association is one of the consistent bodies in the maritime sector that has been playing its roles efficiently even as he said that the association was instrumental to the establishment of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN).
He said the Federal Government was aware of the critical roles being played by the association in revenue generation through the Nigeria Customs Service.
He added that the acquisition of the permanent secretariat will enhance performance among the association’s members.
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, after whose name the Secretariat is called, while speaking extolled the virtues of the association so far in their cooperation with the service in achieving transformational agenda of the president in the country.
He however sees ANLCA as a body that could be referred to as being professional because of their ability to get a habitable building.
He said, “ANLCA has come of age and a certified institution in the trade facilitation process.
“The commissioning of the permanent secretariat symbolises a sole determination to establish your association as a professional body and Nigeria Customs Service wishes to identify with you on this occasion. Customs and ANLCA have enjoyed a cordial relationship over the years. ANLCA is part of carrying out customs six-point agenda in the core area of customs operational”.
The permanent secretariat has distinguished the association as a foremost association that has made up its mind to be the first among its equals in the subsector because this achievement no doubt adds to national status.
Chief Festus Ejiofor is a factional leader of the National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents (NCMDCLA), he adduced that ANLCA is the first freight forwarding association is the father of all other ones where other associations stem from. “All of us started from ANLCA”, he said.
Commending Prince Olayiwola, Chief Ejiofor said “if he has not done well, will he commission the national secretariat? So, it is one of the landmark achievements for Shittu. He is an orator, he is intelligent and that is why people like him.
“If he is not doing well, they would not have allowed him to go for second term. He is doing well”.
The acquisition of the permanent secretariat by the ANLCA is a wakeup call on other freight forwarding associations in the maritime industry to live up to their expectations especially those who do not have befitting offices to stand up to the challenge and get something done.
One important factor that the stakeholders at the commissioning dwelt much on is the togetherness of the association for sixty years which led them to achieve some of the major feats they enjoy today.
He who wants to succeed must appreciate and admire the success of those who have succeeded; so to achieve this can of thing, togetherness must be the watch word and not infighting or disintegration. A word is enough for the wise.