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,
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