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Freight Monitor

Only Corporate CRFFN members, not individuals, could vote and be voted for—–Onyemelukwe

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation
—–an open letter to Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on forthcoming CRFFN elections.

By Sam C. Onyemelukwe


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.

The Act, if well implemented, would engender growth and development in the freight sector.

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.

 This is the only way to save the Council from retrogression and poor performance; anything short of this will put the future of the CRFFN in serious jeopardy.
Records clearly show that provisions of the Act had been variously violated in the past, leading to the abysmal performance of the body.

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 permanent secretary’s position that the CRFFN is the worst Agency under the Federal Ministry of Transportation is correct and verifiable.

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.

The essence of individual registration by the CRFFN was for the Council to recognize the individual that would represent the registered corporate member at the election.

 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.

In the case of CRFFN, the Act tailored the components into zones. We have three zones as follows: the western maritime

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.

 The MOU, among other items, stated that all other associations that applied alongside NAGAFF for the Customs brokerage category would be registered by the CRFFN.

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.

Meanwhile, CRFFN was yet to comply with the part of the agreement that IFFA will be registered once it applies.

 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.

We are duty-bound to do this for our industry and for the profession; but if the contrary is done by violating the CRFFN Act, we shall not fail to explore all legal means to ensure that we save our regulatory body from continuing wallowing without direction or focus.

Sam C. Onyemelukwe is the National President of  International Freight Forwarders Association(IFFA).

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Freight Monitor

ANLCA postpones NECOM election to July 5th as ASECO releases fresh guidelines

Nze Aloysius Emeka Igwe, ASECO Chairman, ANLCA

Following the death of the erstwhile chairman of the Association Electoral Commission(ASECO) of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents( ANLCA), Mr. Alloy Anukwuru, who died in April 2023, the new Chairman of the electoral body has released a fresh guideline for the much-anticipated election.

In the new electoral timetable released by the new chairman of the eight-man electoral committee, Nze Aloysius Emeka Igwe, whose appointment by the board of the association sequel to the death of Anokwuru, was announced about a week ago,  the ANLCA NECOM election will now hold on July 5th, 2023.

This is about less than a two-month extension from the original date of May 25th, 2023 as earlier announced by the electoral body when it was headed by late Anukwuru.

According to the new electoral guideline signed by the new Chairman of ASECO, Emeka Igwe and Alhaji Mustapha Yakubu, the ASECO Secretary, there will be registration of voters at the Western Zone(National Headquarters), Eastern Zone(Onne) and Northern Zone(Abuja) from May 17th -June 2nd, 2023.

Also, the sales of nomination form/letter of intent closes on May 26th, 2023 while the final submission of the original nomination form is slated for between May 26th- 30th, 2023.

Electoral petitions by aggrieved members or participants will be entertained from June 2nd-9th, 2023 while the publication of the aspirants/first provision voters list will be between June 5th -9th, 2023.

The verification and the screening of original documents of voters in the Western Zone hold between June 12th-15th, 2023 while the verification and screening of licenses of voters in the Eastern Zone takes place June 19th -21st, 2023 and that of the Northern Zone takes place between June 22rd-23rd, 2023.

The screening of the aspirants is slated for July 3rd, 2023 while the publication of the final voters and candidate list will also be done on July 3rd, 2023.

The proper election and declaration of results by the returning officer holds on July 5th, 2023, thus ushering in the new executives that will pilot the affairs of the battle-weary ANLCA for a single term of five years.

 

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Freight Monitor

Aftermath of Anokwuru’s death: ANLCA appoints Alloy Igwe as new ASECO chairman

 

The eyewitness reporter
A few weeks after the death of Alloy Anokwuru, the erstwhile Chairman of the Associations Electoral Committee (ASECO) of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA)who died in April, the association has appointed  Alloy Chukwuemeka Igwe as a new chairman of ASECO.
Unveiling the new chairman at the National Secretariat of the association, Kayode Farinto, the Acting National President of ANLCA, charged the new chairman to leave above board.
“Don’t collect bribes in your new assignment. You may be blackmailed but you should remain steadfast” he charged the new ASECO chairman.
Farinto disclosed that the appointment of the new electoral body was made and ratified at a combined meeting of the association’s NECOM and BOT, last week Saturday.
“There shouldn’t be a vacuum and that was the reason this appointment had to be made.
While eulogizing the former ASECO chairman, Farinto said the association was equally confident in the ability of the new chairman who has an impeccable pedigree in the association.
He said there was a new dawn in ANLCA as never again will unlicensed members be allowed to lord it over the licensed members.
“If the election is successful, it will herald a rebirth of the association and its lost glory will return” Farinto declared.
He, therefore, charged the new chairman and the electoral committee to sanitize the electoral process in the association for the betterment of the group.
He also admonished ANLCA members to remain united and resolute in the current efforts to rebuild the association.
The board also appointed Mr Sanusi Adebayo Suleiman from the MMA chapter as the eighth member of ASECO.
Mr Aloy Igwe and Suleiman were later sworn in by the Acting National President of ANLCA.
 The new chairman promised to deliver on his mandate and expressed gratitude to the association for his appointment.
He however said the old timetable of the NECOM election will have to be amended to reflect the new realities on the ground.
The timetable for the NECOM election drawn by the ASECO before Aloy Anokwuru died shows that the election is supposed to hold May, 25th  2023.
It still remains to be seen if the little disruption caused by the death of the former Chairman will affect the date or not.
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Freight Monitor

ANLCA holds NECOM elections May 25th as ASECO releases guidelines

The eyewitness reporter

The much-anticipated elections into the National Executive Council of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA) holds on May 25th, 2023.

According to the election timetable released by the Association Electoral Commission(ASECO), a copy of which was sighted by our reporter, the notice of election has been published on April 11, 2023, while the registrations of voters will be conducted by ASECO at the ANLCA national secretariat from April 12th to 28th, 2023.

The guideline, dated April 11th, 2023, also revealed that the electoral committee will entertain letters of intent from interested contestants from April 12th- April 28th, 2023.

Also,  nomination forms with elections guidelines will be on sale from April 12th- April 19th, 2023 while the final submission of the original nomination forms and other requirements by aspirants will be on the 27th of April 2023.

Furthermore, the screening of aspirants will take place from May 2nd-May 9th, 2023 while election petitions will be entertained May 10th -18th, 2023.

Also, a provisional list of voters and candidates will be published on May 19th, 2023 while there will be a joint ASECO/BOT/NECOM meeting on May 22nd, 2023 to consider and resolve election petitions.

The final voters and candidates list will be published on May 23rd, 2023.

May 25th, 2023, will be the D-day when the elections will hold and the results declared by the returning officer.

Following the consummation of the peace pact between the two warring parties in ANLCA which ushered in an era of peace in the association that was on the boil for five years, a seven-member electoral body called ASECO, headed by Mr. Alloy Anukwuru, was inaugurated to conduct elections into the association’s NECOM.

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