Dr. Aniebonam making his points at the meeting of stakeholders with the ministry of transportation.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The election into the board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) may have come and gone, but the trail of dust that it left behind will certainly take some time before it clears. It will be recalled that prior to the election which eventually took place on Wednesday, the 9th of March 2022, there had been so much disagreement on all sides and this threatened the foundation of the regulatory body as the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi under whose ministry the Council is supervised then Christianed the Council, the most problematic and the most petition writing Government agency under his watch.
Mr. Amaechi’s outburst was only portraying part of the what he viewed as the problems with the Council, the freight forwarding community which the Council is supposed to regulate their activity was totally up in arms over who is qualified to contest for a place in the 15 persons private sector slot in the council, the modality for choosing such a person, the venue for the election and also the time of the election. The real crux of the matter was actually the modality for choosing who to be on the council. It is generally assumed that there are well over ten thousand persons who will want to lay claim to being a freight forwarder/licensed customs agent, but then most of them belong to different associations. In Nigeria or rather in the sector, five notable Associations are registered, namely the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), the National Association of Airfreight Consolidators (NAFFAC), the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (ARFFN) and the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), but then again, there are some notable freight forwarding associations that have not been registered by the government like the Africa Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics Association of Nigeria (APFFLON) and others.
Mr. Ibrahim Tanko National Chairman, NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team.
The registered Associations wanted the 15 slots to be shared amongst them in the ratio of ANLCA 6, NAGAFF 6, ARFFN 1, NAFFAC 1 and NCMDLCA 1, but the unregistered Associations wanted the election thrown open to individuals to contest with the reason that the CRFFN do register freight forwarders as individuals, body corporate and Associations and that individuals are the pillars of any organisation or body.
At the end of the election, the persons who will be at the board of the Council have been elected, but the anger that characterised the election before, during and after the election are not yet simmered.
An interview by a group of journalists at the secretariat of NAGAFF with the founder, Dr. Boniface Okey Aniebonam revealed that there is a lot of displeasure with the outcome of the election. Dr. Aniebonam’s angst stems from the fact that some of the registered Associations like the NAFFAC and the NCMDLCA did not win any seat into the board of the CRFFN, he wonders whether this result has not divided the ranks of the freight forwarders which the CRFFN is supposed to close, the more.
Dr. Aniebonam said “We at NAGAFF are not happy, we are sad because the election rather than bringing us together has divided us the more. The object of the CRFFN act is to bring together all the contending voices in the freight forwarding community, this has not been achieved with the fallout of this election”. He said further ” NAGAFF had the intention to celebrate the victory at the election, but that the situation right now where some Associations will not be represented at the Council will not allow us any celebration as we take our victory at the election with some level of trepidation”. He emphasised that the agreement among the registered Associations to allot the mentioned numbers of seats to the Associations would have been the best to cement the relationship between freight forwarders and for easy administration of the CRFFN. Dr. Aniebonam also condemned the conduct of the election itself as there were a lot of irregularities at the election venues besides the fact that there was no proper accreditation of eligible voters before the election.
The last allegation is an indication that a lot of persons and indeed some Associations are really not happy and the incoming board of the CRFFN is probably going to have a herculean task in doing its duty regulating freight forwarding and taking care of the welfare of operators. Apparently, the consensus reached as Associations of people in the same profession would have been used as a basis for having operators who would speak with one voice and the problems at the ports could easily be resolved, but it rather seems that a golden opportunity has actually been lost.
The Journalists also spoke with one of those who won seats at the election, Mr. Ibrahim Tanko of the NAGAFF 100% compliance team and he expressed his opinion on the election and what he thinks he will contribute at the Council.
Mr. Tanko said that he is actually happy with the turnout of his own election at the Lagos centre of the election. He said that his guiding principle of honesty and simplicity will continue to guide his steps at the Council. He said ” CRFFN had once accused us of trying to take their job as the 100% compliance team and this formed my basis for contesting for a place at the board, I want to go in there, represent my people well and do the right thing”. He advised that people should understand it when they campaign for the 6,6,1,1,1, sharing formular which would have been the best for proper cohesion within the freight forwarding community as he regrets that some registered associations did not win any seat on the Council.
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