WEEKEND GINGER: Dikko House, Shittu; a testimony against Nigeria leaders?‏

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Prince Olayiwola Shittu

The secretariat of the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents (ANLCA) popularly The Dikko Inde House may for long remain a testimonial against industry leaders, of the tons of opportunities so far recklessly wasted.

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

Not necessarily because, up till now, the actual cost is yet to be established, as it has been variously valued between N190 million and N300 million, or because it was built when the association as usual had no money, but because it actually proves strongly, that good ideas frequently attract the money for its development.

Alh INDE DIKKO, COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF CUSTOMS
Alh INDE DIKKO, COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF CUSTOMS

The idea of an ANLCA Secretariat was first muted, in the late 1990’s, during the reign of Alhaji Sani Kamba, as ANLCA President. The idea was good. But the approach was weak. The effort died a stillbirth. It helped to prove what Machiavelli was stressing in his book, The Prince, that anyone who must come up with a good idea, must be prepared for a stiff opposition and fight from the beneficiaries of the old order  (arrangement) and a very weak support, if any, from the potential beneficiaries of the new order..

Since inception, the office of the ANLCA President had become an exclusive preserve of its rich members, because the winner must also maintain a Secretariat.

Three days ago, the current ANLCA President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu marked his 64th birthday. The association was formed in 1954, when Shittu was only four years old.
From a Princely background, he might have had shoes; but then, most people would also recognise that shoes at that time, was not definitely as important as having food on the table.

Last month, the ANLCA Secretariat was formerly opened and ‘named Dikko Inde House, in a ceremony which also witnessed the honouring of past leaders with awards.

Alhaji Sani Kamba, now a Senator, cancelled his engagement in Germany, to attend it, joyfully praying for Shittu, for helping to make his dream a reality.

In the next three years Shittu’s tenure as President would lapse. But the Dikko Inde House would remain.  Younger, youthful, dynamic but, not so “well to do” members may now come up, vie and win elections, without being bogged down by consideration of how to fund a secretariat. That is what legacy is truly about.

The Maritime First learnt Shittu severally tasked his members, after all, charity must begin at home. He then broadened his base outwards, declaring that any outsiders who donated the most or assisted in attracting the largest funds would have the Secretariat named after him.

Narrating the story of the Dikko Inde House to Maritime First, Shitti recalled that the association started by writing letters out, since they didn’t have a dime budgeted for it in the beginning.

“This House would have been Capital House, and not Dikko House.”, he indicated, noting that he called a general meeting where he pleaded with members to, in addition to their supportive prayers and contributions, but must also bring in their high-net- worth friends and clients, with a caveat that anyone with the highest donor or attracting such would have his name attached to it; adding that shortly after, “Ifranyi Ubah, capital Oil called me on phone”.

But sadly enough, the day the body was to meet Ifranyi Ubah, the gentleman was confronted with a personal problem, as the enemies of the business guru ensured that financial investigators came calling. Though sad, the group continued their forage, creating a lesson in perseverance and unrelenting commitment. It was these traits that took them to Sifax Boss, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi and later Dikko.

But while Dikko did not give money, he pleaded with some of his friends who did. But Afolabi gave, alongside, several others persons.

The group also, variously organized funds raising for the building, and successfully garnered several millions.
Today, you have inside the Dikko Inde House, a Dr. Taiwo Afolabi Hall, a Murtala Mohammed Airport hall, etc. The edifice, came via other people’s charity, and the dogged commitment of the leaders!

A former Nigerian Ambassador to Ghana, Musiliu Obanikoro told a group of journalists, when we visited his office that 10 percent of Ghana’s annual budget was usually taken care of by outsiders’ charities or donations. Yet, Ghana does not only enjoy a very stable power supply, but may soon start exporting same, to Nigeria, her senior, but prodigal brother!

Ghana does not have money, yet the Lever Brothers, the Dunlop groups, etc fled Nigeria to take abode in Ghana, throwing several country-men, into the labour market.

If Shittu did not build the Dikko Inde House, then why was Sani Kamba so excited praying for him? If Shittu did not have money, yet mid-wifed the creating of Dikko Inde House, then how many opportunities have we as a country, frittered away, as a result of crass and myopic leaderships?
If Ghana would now export electricity; (and perhaps later too, refined petroleum products), what moral rights, aside from demographic advantages do we have, to call ourselves the continental giant, with more than half of the entire country in darkness and in hunger?

The image maker of Bahrain Maritime regulatory agency was asked why was his country deliberately lenient in its tax administration; his response was that there was a deliberate policy by Government to attract enough foreign companies, before crude petroleum, the mainstay of the country would lose value. Now, is that, not a country with genuine foresight?

The Djibouti, a small country near Ethiopia, has only its two ports, in addition to common rocks and salty waters, yet its people feed fat, enjoy electricity far better than Nigeria!

Thank God we have crude petroleum in abundance. But, those who know, insist that in the next six years, the item may attract a value, slightly higher than cocoa!

Our major customer, the USA is reportedly undergoing a “transformative moment in the history of energy.”  That means they wouldn’t be buying as they used to.

Already, Nigeria’s crude oil exports to the US, for example, fell to just 61,000 barrels per day last July; meaning that, exports from Nigeria have plunged 94% since 2010.

This is because, the U.S. companies are presently extracting around 8.5 million barrels of oil per day; and which is projected to increase to 9.5 million barrels per day, by next year (according to the EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook). Perhaps, it would soon be a matter of time, before Nigeria begins to shop for new buyers; at further reduced prices!

According to a financial reporters and Managing Editor of Energy & Capital, Keith Kohl, in  2008, OPEC’s net revenue from exporting crude oil topped $970 billion. Three years later, higher oil prices pushed the value of OPEC petroleum exports to $1.15 trillion; in 2012, that value climbed to a staggering $1.26 trillion.
Perhaps, countries like Bahrain, UAE and Saudi Arabia have gradually converted it. Adequately preparing for dooms day, so as to take the bite out of it?

It is a debatable argument if ever, there is a country more blessed than Nigeria. But there is no argument on the fact that Nigeria has more citizens, far more than any country on the globe scattered globally, with many of them doing menial jobs!

The monumental things were mostly achieved, when governments of old ran on poor budgets. The Cocoa House, the Benin -Oore Expressway, the Third Mainland Bridge, the Lagos Ibadan Expressway, etc.  Stupendously rich governments merely repair, rehabilitate or patch-patch!

Shittu has proved a point: what we lack in Nigeria is selfless leadership. The Dikko Inde House, a N300 million edifice built by every -day Customs agents led by Shittu may remain for long, the testimony, against this country. And it has nothing to do with, whether or not Shittu had shoes as a toddler!

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