Dr. Kayode Colin Farinto, Vice President of ANLCA.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The election into the board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has been concluded with some very interesting results, but people continue to express their opinions about the conduct of the election and the results that it turned out.
One of the contestants and of course a winner in the election is the vice president of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto who also has the luck of being one of the few who retained their seats in the Council, in this exclusive interview, Dr. Farinto bares his mind on the intrigues that took place around the period of the election and also on other burning issues around the logistics value chain.
Dr. Farinto said that he would have preferred the initial agreement between all the five registered associations, ANLCA, NAGAFF, NAFFAC, NCMDLCA AND ARFFN that proposed the sharing of the positions on the ratio of 6,6,1,1,1, amongst them to stand as he expressed his disgust that personal interests by some people took over and the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi could not stand his ground, this resulted in some Associations not having representatives at the Council now as it were. He said that the agreement would have helped the cohesion amongst freight forwarders, though he expressed his pleasure at being one of the winners during the election.
Dr. Farinto says that he is also happy that the level of awareness is higher than before and the contest is becoming more keen. Dr. Farinto said that though the result may affect some of the federating Associations not represented, but that it will not affect the performance of the board generally, he notes that some of them are experienced and so the level of performance will still be high.
Dr. Farinto advised that freight forwarders should seek more knowledge about the freight forwarding business as he said that capacity building is key for young freight forwarders to further understand the dynamics of the trade. He berated the young freight forwarders for only limiting themselves to the clearance of cars as he said that there are other areas that are yet untapped. He informed that he has just returned from the United Kingdom a few days ago where he went to have a training on dangerous goods reiterating that we need these trainings to run a knowledge based economy. The ANLCA vice president said that there are less than 200 people in the country who are trained in the clearing of dangerous goods like chemicals, paints, explosives and tear gas amongst others. There are solid, liquid and gaseous materials that are classified as dangerous goods that people should learn about their clearance because some of us even venture ignorantly into the clearing of these dangerous goods without knowing their real effect on health and society, so we need people to be trained in this area so that they may know that what they have been doing is not in accordance with the international best practices.
Dr. Kayode Colin Farinto, Md, Wealthy Honey Invest. Nig. Ltd and the Vice President of ANLCA.
On the particular issue that may form the most urgent to tackle at the CRFFN the VP said that “We have the responsibility of engaging most of the Government agencies and the first that we should engage is the Nigerian Customs (Service NCS)”. He continued “We do not have what is called the standard operating procedures, we do not operate with what the World Bank calls the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) which determines the predictability in Customs operations within our Ports. It is unfortunate that this issue was raised by me at the last Council where the Customs sent a committee of officers to the Apapa Port and subjecting them to a lot of harrowing experiences and we tried to make them understand that they should have a standard and we met with the Controller General of Customs and the committee was eventually dissolved. So we do have a lot of responsibility to perform, it is not going to be a tea party affair for us at the Council”.
Questions were also asked about the rating of freight forwarders when it concerns the thorny issue of ethics and Dr. Farinto interjected by saying that “You cannot talk about ethics when there is no enabling environment or the freight forwarders are not protected or when the Government itself is flouting most of the procedures, you cannot talk about ethics when you do not have standardisation or standard procedures. It is a two-way thing, you cannot talk about ethics when you have not done the needful by putting structures and procedures in place. I am just returning from Britain where the Government treats freight forwarders like the responsible citizens that they are, they are treated like people who add value to their economy, but in Nigeria here, we are treated rather shabbily like touts and robbers. Meanwhile after oil, this industry is the next highest revenue earner for the Government, so do not preach ethics to me when you have not done your bits to make the environment conducive for business”.
He advised the “Government to call a town hall meeting to sensitise the freight forwarders and like I keep saying the Government should have a special adviser on Maritime Affairs to the presidency, the person would be a bridge builder between the presidency and the masses. Look at the issue of the Vehicle Identification Number, it took the Government about two weeks to reverse itself on the matter and as I talk to you now, over #700 million will be paid as storage fees and demurrages on the imported vehicles stuck in the Ports. Who pays the fees?, the importer pays it, and who suffers it?, ordinary Nigerians suffer it”.
Dr. Farinto said that Government should be all inclusive and should set aside any policy that is generally distasteful or extremely uncomfortable to the populace. He says that it is rather unfortunate that in Nigeria, we put round pegs in square holes and people who lack the requisite knowledge are put in positions of authority that they know nothing about, people with outdated knowledge are put in places to man 21st century positions. The Government must listen to the people, they give the Customs a percentage of what is generated, what about the freight forwarder who does most of the work, why can’t you also grant him some percentage of the generated revenue before you start teaching ethics?
He also dwelt a bit on the issue of palliatives to freight forwarders and said that no palliative was give to the freight forwarders. Dr Farinto said that he was a member of the committee set up tobsensitise people to go and clear their cargoes during the covid-19 pandemic, because the Nigerian economy needed to continue to run and in the process, some of the members of the committee contracted the virus, but that in the end no palliative was given even after the Government gave a directive that palliatives should be released to the freight forwarders and also that demurrages should be waived, none of these happened. When reminded that the Register of the CRFFN last week made a pronouncement that the government is about to release the palliative to freight forwarders, Dr. Farinto asked rather jocularly, “after two years”?, he also added “Let us see where the palliatives will eventually go to”. He pointed out that though the Government has highjacked the CRFFN which is supposed to be private a regulatory body for freight forwarders, but that with people like him who will not keep quite, the Government should be prepared to have some people in the Council who will argue on the side of the masses.
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