I don’t allow ANLCA politics to distort my spiritual being -Tony Nwabunike

Our guest on your soar away Maritime Life segment for this week is no other than the National President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Hon Tony Iju Nwabunike.

In this interesting interaction with our correspondent DAPO OLAWUNI, the ANLCA President took us into his family life, away from the crisis that is rocking his association ANLCA.
He also disclosed the other side of his career as a politician. He explained how he has been able to balance his life being a politician, a president of a large Customs Brokers Association, as well as his role as a father and husband.
As the  President of the biggest custom brokers association in Africa, how would you describe your social life?
My social life is a little bit simple in the sense that I am an indoor person, I like getting into my room, put off all the lights and not even watching television, this is why in my room there is no television, I like my room to be dim and calm for me to rest my brain.
Apart from that, I like working, I like listening to good music, I can put in a very soft music to sleep off or be having my gym, I like having my gym to put my body in a good fitness level, most importantly I like listening to news, and I love soccer.
I don’t like moving out too much, going from one club to another, I am not a club person, the only thing I can do is to attend birthday parties, house warming and all other social functions. I am not a socialite per say, but I have no reason not to socialise with people who matter to me.


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How do you cope with the challenges of being an ANLCA President? It is a very demanding job

I am a very spiritual person but people don’t know, I always believe that what God does not know would never happen, I believe that everyday of my life that I wake up I give God the glory, and thank him for journey mercies at night, I leave every other thing into his hands to manage, otherwise, which one would I carry?

I would have been a dead man at this little age of mine, I am just barely 57 years old, I still have many years to go, I have four children that I am catering for, I have a very fine family that I really need to take care of, so, my own concern is my personal health, I don’t take health lightly, I take care of my lifestyle, my intakes, my exercises are very important to me, in as much as I still want to know what is going on around me here (office), but I don’t go to sleep with it, I do not allow my job in ANLCA to weigh me down.


How do you balance your role as a politician, and you being the president of ANLCA? Is one not taking precedent above the other?

Let me tell you the truth, association has taught me a whole lot of lessons, our association is just like a quasi- Federal Government of Nigeria where every ethnic groups are struggling just to survive, as far as I am concerned, every Nigerians are practicing racism, an Hausa would tell you that you are a Yoruba man, Yoruba man will say you are an Igbo man and so on and so forth, at the end of the day, you would found out that what we are fighting for is ethnicity, I always believe that it shouldn’t go on that way.

Look at what is happening in the National Assembly, it is the same problem, nobody is coming out to speak for one Nigeria, everybody wants to take it home to his own South East, South-South, South West, North East and so on, but this is totally wrong.
This association, ANLCA has actually shown me that it is purely ethnic politics that we are playing in this country and I don’t want it that way.Another thing is self interest, so many people just believe in what they want to get, they believe “if it is not me, it can never work”
If I am given a chance in this country, these are the two areas I have to change, I have to change ethnic politics and self aggrandisement, Nigeria must be seen as one indivisible entity.
ANLCA has actually given me a very good background to know exactly what the federal government is all about, sometimes if I seat down now to judge Mr President, I judge him from my own perspective, everybody thinks the President is not doing right, but not all of them are correct.


How long ago have you been a member of ANLCA? 

To be honest with you, ANLCA is one association I must give kudos to, since 1954 till date, ANLCA is moving on strongly, despite the fact that people are looking at them as troublesome people who go to court,  but I will tell you that if you bring out the case file of the federal government of Nigeria against  individuals in this country, I don’t think any court of law will finish it in the next five years. So, anybody that takes you to court wants you to settle with him.

I have been an Apapa chapter chairman, I have been the Secretary of the constitution review committee, I was the Secretary General of ANLCA for six years elected in 1999, I have been a board member of ANLCA and now the President of the association, I think I have given enough and this is my last point of services to ANLCA.

But I tell you, ANLCA has made people like me very strong, it has given me the backing of being a wonderful leader in the future, it has made me to believe that it is not all bed of roses in leadership, this is not just an ethnic groups coming together to form an association, but it is a balanced Nigerian association.


One sees you as someone who travels a lot, family life, how do you have time for your family

If you say that I travel a lot, it depends on what you have in mind, remember that I have private businesses, I have McTonnel Nigeria Limited, I have Naipet Energy, I have Zuma BDC, I have Anambra Continental Bonded Terminals, I have Ajuji Ventures, these are all companies. We have a branch in Houston, we are opening in Glasgow today, we have a branch in Dubai and I am still the CEO of some of these companies.

Let me be honest with you, apart from association, should anybody be asking me why must I travel to my other offices, I have an office in Port Harcourt which is functioning till date, I have an office in Lagos and  AbujaBeing a President of an association does not give me salary, it is a self-service, so, if I decide to be here three times in a week and give two days to the other companies and yet somebody is saying that I travel too much, I wonder what the person wants me to do.

People are using association to make money and that is not what we want to do, we want to have this independence for our own businesses, this is why I said, if I had been in the National Assembly, I would by now be putting a bill that we should be going to our various offices and be coming back to the house as a secondary area, we need to decentralize the works of the National Assembly, we need to have it as a part-time work, if we do it this way and lawmakers are paid per seating, then we would have removed all these incumbrances of huge sums of money, we know those who are actually just making money from being a politician and those who are real business men and are actually making money from their businesses.

These are the things that people like Joe Sanni (ANLCA Publicity Secretary) have not understood properly, that seating down here is a big sacrifice.


What I meant by that question is that, do you get to spend enough time with your family?

I am a very happy family man, my family is enjoying me because most times, when I am travelling, I travel with my family when they are on holidays, I can tell you today that my children are in Canada, and I spent almost two months immediately after my election with them, they are here back in Nigeria on holidays, by Christmas season they will come back again, and I am having good time with them because I have beautiful children, they are enjoying me, my second son actually told me that he cannot wait to finish up with school and join me, because he knows I am a very lovely father, he believes in me.

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