The importance of the freight forwarding industry to Nigeria’s economy need not be over-emphasized; and it is as a result that the federal government, in a bid to organize the sector and make it more productive to the economic development of Nigeria, instituted the CRFFN 2007.
A lot of efforts of eggheads of the industry went into the process and build-up to the enactment of the Act so as to give it the potency for effective regulation of the freight forwarding sector of Nigeria’s economy.
As a pioneer member of the governing board, coming second in the total votes cast at the first CRFFN election and the Vice-Chairman in the second governing board, I have adequate knowledge and experience to assure you that the CRFFN Act 2007 is a very robust law.
What has happened over the years is that ignorance and, sometimes impunity and actions that contravene provisions of the Act are reasons the CRFFN has achieved very little in the industry.
As the supervisory Minister of the CRFFN, we urge you to ensure that the Act is followed explicitly in conducting the forthcoming election into the next governing board.
Now that the Council is at the crossroads again, we must work in concert to get it right, as the forthcoming election will make or mar the CRFFN.
IFFA commends the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani for committing efforts and demonstrating objectivity towards the election.
The Honourable Minister should know that CRFFN’s lackluster performance is because many of the activities of the CRFFN negate the provisions of the CRFFN Act 2007 and the poor performance can be reversed if the Act can be followed to the letter.
It is pertinent to inform the Honourable Minister that faulty structures had been put in place in the Council that has posed stumbling blocks to the proper functioning of the body.
Getting this election right will be the beginning of correcting these anomalies; by so doing repositioning the CRFFN to deliver on its statutory mandates and also meet expectations of operators and stakeholders in the industry.
This is why IFFA is concerned and there is urging the minister to do the right thing this time around so as to save the Council from being the ghost of itself and caricature among agencies of the Ministry.
It is as a result of the importance of the forthcoming election to the survival and proper functioning of the CRFFN that we at IFFA resolved to limit our intervention in this letter to the issues of election and transition; other shady matters that have contributed to retrogression of the Council will be issues of another day.
We have observed that the issues of who qualifies to vote and/or to be voted for have been either misunderstood or subject to controversy.
This should not be the case, as the CRFFN Act is clear and sacrosanct on this. The position advanced by the Act on eligibility is in line with global best practices and what is obtainable in other regulatory and professional bodies like CRFFN.
It is important for the Honourable Minister to be informed that the right to vote or to be voted for, by the Act, rests on CRFFN registered corporate membership and not on individual membership of the Council.
To get the process right avoiding ambiguity and sentiments, this must be understood and strictly adhered to as a way to enthrone order in the affairs of the CRFFN.
IFFA observed that the Permanent Secretary was quoted to have appealed to the various registered Associations in the Council to reserve some positions for non-Association members.
We make bold to inform the PS that the appeal was unnecessary, as it is unlawful and violation of the CRFFN Act for the registered Associations to, at their exclusive decisions, whims, and caprices, share the CRFFN board membership positions and determine who should be in the Council’s board and who should not.
The Ministry must dissociate itself from this violation of the Act, as no regulation made by the CRFFN supports that sharing pattern or system.
Furthermore, the registration of individuals by the CRFFN under the Act enables the individual to have the RFF (Registered Freight Forwarder) title that would confer the individual the qualification to operate in the sector or work in the industry as a freight forwarder in companies.
We herein remind the Minister that the first election into the governing board of the pioneer Council, midwifed by Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) under Barr Hassan Bello took the proper, statutory format.
That election, which was organized and conducted by the Abuja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), took cognizance of the provisions of the CRFFN Act and it was well delivered in line with the provisions of CRFFN 2007.
The Minister should note that these developments, as well as what the Act proffers are verifiable; doing the contrary would mean taking captains of industry and all stakeholders for granted and this could rock the ship of the incoming CRFFN board.
We advised the Minister to make wide consultations and ensure that the rule of law reigns supreme in the forthcoming election.
It becomes pertinent for us to state that the same process is followed in elections into governing councils or boards of other professional and/or regulatory bodies like the Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN), Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), as well as professional bodies like Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
Even the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) go by corporate membership in eligibility to participate in its elections.
In other words, it is not foreign to us that franchise in elections like this lies on corporate membership, represented by registered individual members, one per corporate registered member.
The Honourable Minister should know that some interested persons are only pushing for a process that would favour them, but would violate the Act and would ultimately be counterproductive for CRFFN operations.
The fact is that the CRFFN board positions are open to all interested registered corporate members that can each field a registered individual to contest the election, as its representative.
However, one cannot overlook the fact that some professional bodies conduct their elections through association lines; but such bodies have these provisions contained in the Acts establishing them, or had made regulations to that effect.
A peculiar example is in COREN, the composition of the Council is tailored along the lines of various engineering associations that are also aligned to the departments of engineering that members are qualified and/or certified.
There are associations for engineers, technologists, craftsmen, technicians, etcetera; and the COREN law provides for this and allocates the number of members that would represent each association in the Council.
Associations can actually have their individual elections and fill up their allocated quota of members; the Ministry only supervises the process to ensure compliance.
zone, the eastern maritime zone, as well as the international airport and land borders zone.
Advocating for election based on association lines in CRFFN is baseless, myopic, a violation of the Act and an aberration that shouldn’t be allowed to take root or gain ground in the quest to reposition the CRFFN for progress.
It is important to note that the IFFA, as an Association is second to no other Association in the freight forwarding industry in terms of membership and spread.
It is as a result of IFFA’s interest for the growth and professionalism of the industry that we made sacrifices to ensure that CRFFN was structured in line with what is obtainable in the developed world.
As the then Vice Chairman of the governing board of the Council, I shared a view that the CRFFN should register only one association in each of the departments of freight forwarding, including Customs brokerage, haulage, warehousing, courier services, etcetera.
We started with the registration of the Association for operators involved in Customs brokerage, and we set standards that would encourage healthy operations and global best practices; various Associations applied; but based on the understanding we had that only one association would be registered to cover the operators in Customs brokerage, IFFA made a sacrifice and didn’t apply.
At the end of thorough verifications and assessment by the then registration committee headed by a very experienced and knowledgeable practitioner, Chief Peter Oge Obih, only ANLCA qualified and emerged as the only registered Association for operators in Customs brokerage.
We were to continue with other departments of freight forwarding, which would have accommodated other existing Associations, but the process was truncated when the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) was registered from the back door without the knowledge of the chairman of the registration committee.
It was this that destabilized the structure that we had conceived that would have solved the problems of Association proliferation, disorderliness and some operational problems that have become endemic in the industry.
It will be recalled that non-resolution of the matter locally caused IFFA to petition FIATA and various international bodies; which resulted in the blacklisting of CRFFN and placing a travel ban to Nigeria.
The matter was eventually resolved with a memorandum of understanding (MOU), before IFFA recalled its letter and CRFFN was reinstated by FIATA.
It was also agreed in the MOU that in the future round of registration that IFFA would also be registered once it applies.
This was why more Associations were registered.
IFFA has numerical strength and spread in membership. The only Association that can stand side by side with IFFA in the industry is ANLCA, which is the oldest Association in the industry.
IFFA’s capacity had been demonstrated over time. During the election into the first Council that was well conducted, IFFA got three out of the eight members elected into the governing board of the Council; this was the highest number when compared to other Associations’ membership to that governing board.
It is important to note that all these mushroom, one-man Associations also contested in that election and lost convincingly.
ANLCA won two seats, the National Association of Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) won a seat and the remaining two seats were won by non-association members.
IFFA assures the Minister that we will throw our weight to support the Ministry of Transportation to deliver a credible, well-conducted, free and fair election, in line with global best practice and the CRFFN Act.
Sam C. Onyemelukwe is the National President of International Freight Forwarders Association(IFFA).
Stakeholder calls out Amaechi to account for millions of Naira in remittances made by freight forwarders under CRFFN.
As Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation is intensifying his campaign to be the next President of Nigeria, an aggrieved stakeholder in the maritime industry, Segun Musa, has called the APC presidential aspirant out to account for millions of naira remitted by Freight Forwarders under the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding practice in Nigeria(CRFFN) which is under the supervision of his ministry.
Musa, a frontline freight forwarder and former Chairman of the Airport chapter of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), claimed that freight forwarders, since the inception of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) in 2007 and as stipulated by the Council Act, have been making annual remittances to the Federal Government through the ministry of Transportation in terms of annual dues and membership subscriptions of the CRFFN,
The concerned stakeholder further alleged that these monies, which have run into several millions of naira, are yet to be accounted for.
Musa further alleged that the amount accrued from the remittances made by freight forwarding companies and individual freight forwarders, may have been mismanaged, hence his call for accountability.
“We are soliciting the support of all well-meaning Nigerians and other stakeholders to call on the Ministry of Transportation to respect the FOI Act and give details of total collections from individual and corporate annual dues from the inception of the CRFFN Act and explain how it has been utilised as well as the law that backed up the usage.
“The critical stakeholders in the transport subsector are suspicious of possible mismanagement of the public funds tagged (annual dues) contributed by freight forwarders into the coffers of the Federal Government under the supervision of the Ministry of Transportation.
“The reports in circulation indicate that the Ministry of Transportation has mismanaged hundreds of millions in naira so far contributed by freight forwarders as the stipulated dues in line with the Act that established the CRFFN from their income aside from statutory taxes deductibles.
“The law compelled every freight forwarding company to pay a stipulated amount as dues annually as well as every individual staff of the companies to remain in practice.
“Despite the inconvenience due to the global economic meltdown and slowdowns in business as well as the biting inflation impacts, members of the freight forwarding industry complied with the directives as enshrined in the law” he noted.
Musa expressed regret that despite the statutory obligations of the CRFFN board to use this amount accrued from the annual dues and subscription to train freight forwarders, all the training so far organised by the Council were fully paid for by freight forwarders themselves except very few that were free.
“It is sad to note that the essence of compliance is due to the fact that the revenues pool would be deployed to build members’ capacity to meet global standards and position them to participate in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
“It is most unfortunate that all the training organised so far were paid for in full by stakeholders aside from few that came as free” he declared.
Musa, therefore, expressed reservation over the collection of the controversial Practitioner Operating Fee(POF) made compulsory to be paid by freight forwarders and sanctioned by the Ministry of Transportation despite several millions of annual remittances that are yet to be accounted for.
“The alleged mismanagement of public funds contributed by freight forwarders came as a result of the same Ministry of Transportation that has not accounted for the hundreds of millions in naira contributed so far aside government allocations and subvention, now demanding for revenues from every imported shipment into the country tagged Practitioner Operating Fee (POF).
“This simply means regardless of membership annual subscriptions or dues paid, aside the Customs license renewed with lots of money, aside customs duties, shipping companies charges and terminal charges, you will still have to pay something similar to customs duty to the Ministry of Transport before imported goods will be allowed to exit the ports”
The NAGAFF chieftain, while lamenting the plethora of charges imposed on freight forwarders in a stifling economy, said this has made Nigerian ports non- user friendly .
“This is the kind of policy that has made our ports not to be business-friendly and has been encouraging manufacturers to exit our country as well forcing importers to patronise the neighboring ports.
“This policy is not only strange to International best practices but also strange to any economic ideology targeted at adding any kind of values to any sector of the economy.
“We hereby implore our strategic partners to help in calling out the Honorable Minister for Transportation to come and account for what we have contributed to the pool under his supervision, how it has been utilised and as a matter of responsibility, jettison the idea of POF because it is an intellectual fraud targeted to further impoverish the innocent Nigerians” Musa further alleged,
Ameachi inaugurates 4th CRFFN board amidst muffled complaints over imposition of principal officers
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Wednesday inaugurated the fourth governing board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The 32- members governing board was inaugurated in a low-key manner devoid of any funfair.
An insider source whispered to our reporter that Ameachi, who seemed to had already made up his mind on the principal officers who will pilot the affairs of the council, rushed the process which returned the erstwhile chairman and the Vice Chairman of the now-dissolved 3rd governing board unopposed.
“There was no election. The Minister just sauntered into the conference room of the ministry and said that he would not spend more than one minute with us.
“After that, he asked us if we wanted the status quo to remain, to which we all chorused in the affirmative.
” So the former Chairman, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar was returned unopposed while his former Deputy in the last board, Chief Henry Njoku, was also returned unopposed as the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the new board respectively.
“He didn’t just give us any chance to make our own choice, the Minister merely stampeded us.
“That man cannot be the President of Nigeria. He is too dictatorial” a member of the new board who did not want his name in print for fear of reprisal action, lamented.
However, Kayode Farinto, the Acting President of the National Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and a member of the new board, told our reporter that the Minister was merely exercising his right as enshrined in section six of the CRFFN act which gives him the power to direct.
“It was that power to direct he relied on .”
When asked why nobody could challenge the imposition of the principal officers, especially the chairman who was not an elected but selected member, Farinto said no one was qualified to vie against him.
“Even, if we, the elected members, decided to run against him in an election, don’t forget that the government selected members are more than us who were elected.
” While we are 15, the selected members are 17 and that put them at an advantage”.
The Minister however told the members of the board that they would be invited at a later date for the ceremonial aspect of the inauguration.
With the Wednesday inauguration, the fourth governing board of the CRFFN has officially taken off and was told to hit the ground running.
15 freight forwarders were elected into the council during the March elections which took place in Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt on 9th March 2022 while 17 members were selected by the government from different agencies to make up the 32- member governing board.
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