In actual fact, there are two sides to a coin which also depicts what obtains in associations or any group of persons who come together under the aegis of transacting a business or getting a deed done.
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) is an association revered for its longevity, spread and membership across the nation. The number of years it has existed forms part of its acceptability having built a trust for itself over the years.
When accosted, the National president of the association, Prince Olayiwola Shittu said that an association was a voluntary organization where nobody is expected to be coarsed to be a member, adding that the association wouldn’t have continued to thrive since 1954 if there is no essence to the association.
He said that there was no association in the world that did not have relevance otherwise it will go into extinction or not exist at all.
According to Prince Shittu, the association membership is by corporate companies that are licensed by Nigeria Customs Service, he also said that the association could boast of about 3, 000 members apart from the individuals working under the corporate companies. He said some organizations have staff strength of between 3 and 30 depending on their volume.
He was quick to mention that 90 percent of Nigeria Customs corporate licensed companies belong to ANLCA.
Asked what concrete thing the association had done for its members, he said he would not like to talk about what he had done but the members would be in better position to tell what they derived from being members of the association.
One member of the association, Alhaji Bintin Okunola, who earlier spoke with MMS Plus Weekly on why Shittu was elected the second time said that Shittu had delivered dividend to members that was why he was returned to continue the good work he had started.
Also a testimony is the new secretariat built by the association under the leadership of the Olayiwola Shittu who was said to have contributed magnanimously to the realization of getting a personal association-owned secretariat during his time in office.
However, a good definition of relevance of an association to members might mean well beyond the corporate benefits derivable.
On the same issue, Chief Patrick Ofoegbu, Treasurer of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarder (NAGAFF), Tin can Island chapter said that there are many things one can derive as a member of an association if one reports even one’s personal problems to the association. According to him a respectable association would not watch its members suffering without offeringhelp.
He said NAGAFF had gone to the level of paying the school fees of the children of a member who had no money at that time to pay the school fees.
Shittu also said that the association makes provisions for insurance policy for members which takes care of their future and lives.
On using association to pursue personal end, he said, “If you are an executive of an association, you will want to make sure that the association survives, grows, you will want to meet with the interest of your members, on doing that some people erroneously mistakes it for pursuing your own course.
Dr Fred Ajuzie is the Chairman of Apapa chapter of NAGAFF, he disagreed with the notion that members do not have anything to benefit from being a member of an association especially NAGAFF where he belongs.
According to Dr. Ajuzie, “I disagree with that, in my experience as an association leader, there are members who are not real members and some are not members of any association at all. How do you want to benefit from what you don’t believe in?” he queried.
He said if any member brings any issue to the executives of an association, it will be handled at the chapter level and if they found that they could not solve it at that level, they take it to the national headquarters where it will be trashed immediately.
To him, the advantages of associations outweigh the disadvantages because it gives a lot of room to someone to solve problems which an individual could not have been able to solve on his own.
He further stated that NAGAFF trains its members and occasionally organizes seminars and lectures to update members on current issues concerning freight forwarding.
Chief Patrick Ositachukwu is the National Coordinator of Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters Coalition, a pressure group as described by the helms man and not an association and it is out to put the associations in the freight forwarding and clearing agents industry on their toes whenever they are not doing what is expected of them.
The group is formed to check the excesses of not just the associations but all other agencies and parastatals that are not doing there their jobs effectively both in the port and the nation at large.
According to Chief Osita, the associations have failed in terms of operations and logistics stating that if the associations are working well, there would not be a situation where trucks would be outside the ports waiting endlessly without the success of loading thereby causing unnecessary delay on the roads to the port.
He said Save Nigeria always rises to the rescue of not just their members but members of other association if they are unfairly treated or if they have problems especially in the court. He further added that members of the pressure group receive trainings regularly and awareness programmes organized for them from time to time to help keep them abreast of latest information concerning the activities in the port.
He said the members are often trained on how to get jobs and even how to execute the jobs thereby not only giving them fish but teaching them how to fish. He stated that members are taking outside the country for trainings which he said distinguishes them from others.
The membership of the group he said is in the thousands across the country with about sixty executive members.
Confronted with what the group has been able to achieve since inception, he said many and when pressed further, he said the issue of 35% levy on imported vehicles; he said his group fought for the reversal of the levy which the Federal Government would have insisted on 70% and on the duty on rice.
When reminded that other associations carried placards in the port on the same issue, he said other associations might protest or write to the government, it was way too late because the group had written to the presidency and the senate before other associations thought it wise to do so.
In the process of gathering information concerning this topic, it was tasking because some people ordinarily do not want to say anything on the association, some are afraid of the outcome of whatever information they give, while the tone of some of the associations’ executives were not friendly.
We hope to serve you with what other associations have to say next week suppose we have something tangible.