As Tony Iju Nwabunike, the President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), marks his birthday on June 13th; a peek into his personality would mirror the persona of Sir Thomas More in ‘A Man for All Seasons’, by English playwright and two-time Oscar winning screenwriter, Robert Bolt.
The plot is based on the historical events of the 16th-century Chancellor of England. Sir More refused to endorse Henry VIII’s wish to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, who did not bear him a son, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, the sister of his former mistress. The play portrays More as a man of principle, envied by rivals such as Thomas Cromwell and loved by the common people and by his family.
‘A Man for All Seasons’ portrays a struggle with ideas of identity and conscience; Sir More argues repeatedly that a person is defined by his conscience. His own position is depicted as almost indefensible; the Pope is described as a “bad” and corrupt individual, forced by the Emperor Charles V to act according to his will. But as More says to Norfolk, “What matters is not that it’s true, but that I believe it; or no, not that I believe it, but that I believe it.” More fears that if he breaks with his conscience, he will be damned to hell, while his associates and friends are more concerned with holding onto their own temporal power.
Back to the celebrant, Nwabunike, is loved by the rank and file of ANLCA as well as the leadership in varying categories at the association. His recognition, goodwill and rapport also spreads across maritime industry stakeholders ranging from regulatory agencies to terminal operators, shipping lines to maritime workers, security agencies to sister freight forwarding bodies.
At ANLCA, however, his slant to lead ANLCA based on doctrines bothering on conscience has been exploited to spark lingering crises that could have been averted with a firm dictatorial approach, albeit undemocratic.
Nwabunike keeps a persona to count all ANLCA members as his friends and colleagues. He always has a listening ear to learn and adopt better leadership approaches for effective leadership. Sometimes, the downside is that he gives room to so many deliberations that later mars the impact a speedy decision would have achieved with his initial lofty plans.
It’s rare to find a man in leadership whose door is open to all members of ANLCA for constructive criticisms, contributions and dissatisfaction.
Despite the challenges in the Association, ANLCA has conducted credible elections in the Eastern Zone, comprising Port Harcourt port, Port Harcourt International Airport, Onne port and Enugu chapter, the Western Chapter elections for Tin Can Island port, Apapa port, Murtala Mohammed International Airport chapters as well as the chapters in the Northern zone.
A new board of trustees has also been constituted after a peaceful election in Owerri, Imo State in December last year.
With almost three decades experience in freight forwarding business, Nwabunike has maintained a keen appetite for innovation. His studious nature earned him business and leadership intelligence, while he has also built a unique charisma over the years.
Nwabunike, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mac Tonnel Nigeria Limited, has diverse interests in dry port operations, logistics and warehousing, politics, bonded terminal operations, among others underline his penchant for excellence and astute business acumen.
With his longevity in the maritime space, Nwabunike is a journalist’s delight as he gives expert opinions on sensitive maritime sector issues appraising policies and unearthing possible loopholes and consequences of government actions or inactions.
In some instances, however, his rich affinity and rapport with varying stakeholders such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), seaport terminals, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), among others, places him in a dilemma as he can only explain the effects of their flaws to pressmen anonymously while he explores personal engagement with the affected authorities.
Nwabunike has also served as the pioneer Board Chairman of Council for the Regulation of freight forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), established by Act 16 of 2007.