The much talked about Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association(WISTA) Nigeria elections have come and gone but not without lessons for the new executive members and leaders in general.
However, I crave your indulgence to use the first person singular, “I” for the first time in public commentaries. I detest it on account of so many reasons, especially because it over personalizes issues and attracts unwanted attentions. But in this piece, against my principle, I have chosen to share the tragic-comedy of Father Mbaka’s political prophesy.
Armed with pre-elections information, I knew the elections would not be easy given the interest already generated and a series of meeting from different camps. The tonnes of allegations and counter-allegations by candidates and the deluge of interventions by the Diamonds foretold that the elections could either make or mar WISTA Nigeria going forward. I had said “There would be a coup d’etat”. I had no Episcopal anointing like Mbaka,yet my “Prophesy” came to pass!
Against all odds and to the chagrin of so many people in a given circle, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke, who has just retired from the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) as Assistant General Manager(AGM) emerged the new President of WISTA Nigeria in a keenly contested elections laced with tension and emotional topsy-turvy.
Ezeoke won with 36 votes to beat Ortsematosan Edodo-Emore who polled 16 votes and Victoria Tarfa who got 15 votes, as well as Obiagelli Obi who secured 12 votes.
Ann Akpan emerged the association’s Vice President, Odunayo Ani emerged the Treasurer, Obiagelli Nweke, Assistant Treasurer, while Aisha Cole emerged unopposed as the Assistant Secretary.
Chizoba Anyika emerged the Secretary with 36 votes to beat Lilian Nneji Macjaja who polled 30 votes and Helen Majemite who got 12 votes.
Sarah Roberts emerged the Public Relations Officer, while Tokunbo Ajila-Jakande was elected the Assistant Public Relations Officer.
The new executives were elected on Thursday last week in Lagos at the 2020 Annual General Meeting(AGM) of WISTA Nigeria.
The pre-elections drama series have the potentials to enrich producers and marketers of Nollywood films. This was expected though because WISTA Nigeria has grown in membership strength, glamour, recognition and fantastically strong in purse.
For the first time, geopolitical dichotomy crept in, but it was nipped with wisdom. Two candidates- Chizoba Anyika and Aisha Cole were disqualified but were eventually cleared. Surprisingly, they both won their positions. Don’t ask why they were disqualified. Just like the many biblical mysteries, so were the WISTA Nigeria’s mysteries.
Over 50 new members who were mobilized to come and cast vote were disenfranchised on account of eligibility bordering on statutory mandatory period of membership.
One issue that almost dimmed the existence of the association was replacement of voting by proxy with online voting. The constitution, it was said, allows proxy- voting but the immediate out-gone executive legitimized and premised the Thursday’s election on online voting said to have been adopted by the house in the past in preference outside the constitution. In the heat of the volcanic dissension, it was subjected afresh to voting on the floor but majority voted for voting by proxy. This further disenfranchised many members not present and who could not send proxies. Eventually, only old financial members present or represented were able to cast their votes.
The Diamonds were really worried about the outcome of the elections that some not within Lagos had to plead with those present to ensure that there was a successful election and seamless transition. Funke Agbor, SAN and Barr. Funmi Folorunso, presided over the elections as umpire, Mrs. Jean Chiazor Anishere played the role of the counselor and guardian. These are all past presidents.
The truth is that everybody is a winner in the elections of Thursday. “No victor, no vanquished”. The participation of everyone made WISTA Nigeria stronger. The new executive should see themselves as servants with huge obligations not responsibilities to meet. They should set out collective responsibility as a mission by making every hand and head count in their leadership vision.
Mary Hamman, the immediate past President should be congratulated on making a new WISTA Nigeria of robust inclusiveness and deep pocket.
Earlier, Hamman, said that support by members of the association helped her team to take the association to the next level.
“The journey of my tenure started in 2015 on a sad note because that was the day I got news of the death of my elder sister.
“I appreciate the Almighty God who gave me the strength and courage to face the storm, and guided us throughout the tenure.
“We took over the administration of WISTA Nigeria, which I ran for two tenures, with 43 financial members and now we have over 130 financial members.
“We are privileged to witness our admission into the International Maritime Organisation and also got a consultative status,” Hamman said.
She said that WISTA Nigeria had got increased international and local recognition by key maritime players and governments.
The new President, Ezeoke in her acceptance speech solicited members’ cooperation, promising that the new executive committee would carry all members of the association along in its administration.
“It is my desire to take women empowerment to the next level in the maritime and trading community.
“My primary objective is to sustain the good achievements that WISTA, Nigeria has recorded over the years and build on the existing foundation to make impact locally and internationally.
“Our relationship with regional branches of WISTA as well as WISTA International will be strengthened to the benefit of all members, and we will once again work as a team to achieve greatness,” Ezeoke said.
She said that the committee would do its best to get a befitting secretariat for the association.
A key lesson for leaders here is that leadership is a continuum and can only be sustainably so and bearing this in mind, present and future leaders must give credit to their predecessors because the labour of the heroes past is not in vein, otherwise there may be no stool to exercise leadership. Quickly cast your mind on relay race and appreciate how invaluable each of the relay runners is to the common goal.
A post-election worry has arisen with the claim that Hamman inherited only 43 financial members but some people were quick to calm the agitated nerves with an intervention that it was a mere political statement because she inherited over 70 members from Port Harcourt chapter, about 25 from Aba chapter and about 30 in Abuja chapter, among other chapters, in addition to the Lagos chapter with rich membership drawn from different associations, institutions and agencies of the government. However, this season has sorted itself out for good. The lesson learned here from is that no political office aspiration is negligible. The dictum of the end justifies the means, should be jettison for the end sanctifies the means.
The compass of every leadership is a set of rules and regulations, and so without recourse to the constitution, a leadership is rudderless. Constitution is the commandment of leadership, and must be referenced at all times.
If I were Ezeoke, I would convene a meeting of all the candidates and use a common cup for all to drink from. Expectations are high from the new team because they were privileged to aggregate ideas as manifestoes from many interests. Lastly, do not forget to oil your public relations machinery!