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Freight Monitor

ANLCA breathes again!—–as peace returns to crisis-ridden association

 

CRFFN emerges as hero of peace accord
The eyewitness reporter
After five years of bitterness, cut-throat rivalry, hatred and political warfare that have turned the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA (ANLCA) into a walking ghost, peace has finally returned to the oldest freight forwarding group in Nigeria.
It wasn’t a peace that was gotten on a platter of gold.
The road to the peace accord was littered with uncertainty, suspicion and sabotage.
For five grueling years that the association has been in the wilderness of endless crisis, all efforts to achieve the elusive peace have always hit the rock mounted by recalcitrant gladiators that were factionalized into two rival groups.
But on Wednesday, March 15th, 2023, the Council for the Regulation of Freight forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) pulled the chestnut out of the fire when it reconciled the two warring factions that held the association, hostage.
At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the Eko Hotels and Suites, the CRFFN poured water on the five years of raging fire that fizzled out.
Like the biblical story of how Jesus Christ rebuked the raging storm into quietness, the Chairman of the CRFFN, Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar, rebuked the raging storm in the ANLCA into calmness.
The road to the final peace in ANLCA was long, winding and tortuous after the initial efforts of the police failed.
As the regulatory body of the freight forwarding industry, the CRFFN led by its Chairman mandated the warring parties to convene an AGM where the disputed issues were to be discussed and settled.
That effort too was nearly thwarted as there was opposition to the peace arrangement.
But it took the cast iron resolve and unbending vow of  Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar to end the crisis that enable the AGM to hold amidst the threat of boycott from other warring party.
On the day of the AGM, it also took the guts, gritty determination, hardline posture, appeals, stick and carrot approach and subtle threat employed by the CRFFN to pull off this rare feat.
Alhaji Tsanni held a grueling five hours meeting with the leadership of the two factions prior to the AGM proper, an action which led to the late commencement of the AGM.
At the pre-AGM parley with the warring parties, concessions, sacrifices and commitments were made to achieve peace.
Among them were the voluntary stepping down of Prince Taiye Oyeniyi, as the Secretary of one of the factional BOT, and the merger of the two contending and factional BOT groups, Taiwo Afolabi- led group and Taiwo Mustapha -led group with each group donating four members to the new BOT.
Prince Taiye Oyeniyi was compensated with the position of Paron of the association.
Satisfied that the two sides have reached a truce that would usher in the much sought-after peace, the AGM was later convened four hours behind schedule.
However, the CRFFN chairman and the leadership of the two factional groups, who must have parted themselves on the back for a job well done, didn’t bargain for the resistance and antagonism that greeted the peace proposal when presented to the general meeting.
Hell was let loose over the proposed merger of the two warring BOTs.
Members kicked, yelled and resorted to a shouting match to show their displeasure over the merger.
Some even threatened to challenge the peace proposal in court while some proposed total scrapping of the two quarrelsome BOT factional groups to give peace a chance.
The angry members called the legality and constitutionality of the contrived BOT into question, saying such contrived arrangement is alien to the supreme constitution of ANLCA.
The CRFFN chairman and Kayode Farinto, the Acting National President of ANLCA, begged the angry members to give peace a chance by allowing the peace proposal but this seemed to incensed them into a more riotous mood.
Sensing that his efforts and sleepless night to achieve peace in ANLCA were about to be frustrated by the unruly attitude of the angry AGM participants who described him as an outsider who have no right to force the merger arrangement down their throat,  Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar braced himself and confronted the situation with toughness and unbending posture of a military General.
With a tough mien, the CRFFN chairman mounted the chair he was seated on to talk to the rowdy and angry AGM participants.
“I am here as a regulator who is like a father to all the associations in the industry.
“If we have to die here, we die here to ensure there is peace.
“You are not doing me any favour if you agree to settle.
“If you don’t agree to settle, I don’t care.
“My concern is how the crisis is affecting me because anytime I go to the customs, they ask me what the problem is with ANLCA and why CRFFN cannot settle it.
“Let me tell you, you are the one assisting them.
“If you think you can operate without a CRFFN certificate, it is a lie.
“I am ready to die here.
“We have to tell ourselves the truth. Nobody can operate without registration with CRFFN.
“So it is better to settle the crisis now”
The chairman of the CRFFN, who was at that point livid with anger, threatened to withdraw the CRFFN certificate issued to ANLCA and shut down its national secretary if they fail to close ranks.
However, Farinto had to intervene for the umpteenth time, begging and appealing to the agitated members.
“Please, please, I beg you in the name of God, let us allow peace.
“The industry is suffering and members of ANLCA are suffering due to this lingering crisis. The government agencies, especially the Customs, are exploiting the crisis to extort and exploit us”
“So  it is in our own interest to allow peace to reign “
Farinto said that the contending issue of BOT has become cancerous and a surgical operation is needed.
He admonished his members to allow the contrived BOT to be inaugurated.
“But what we should be concerned about is how to confine the members of the BOT to their supervisory role as enshrined in ANLCA supreme constitution”.
The subtle threat of the CRFFN Chairman and the appeal by the Acting President of ANLCA eventually calmed the frayed nerves of the members and thereafter, the eight-member BOT made up of equal numbers from each factional group, was inaugurated.

The new  BOT members include Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha, Dayo Azeez, Sir Ernest Elochukwu, Sir Dennis Okafor, Prince Ozo Chukwura, Alhaji Shamsideen Awopeju, Kingsley Offor and Mr. Eniola Igbaruola.

In the same breath, a seven-member Association Electoral Committee (ASECO) headed by Mr Alloy Anukwuru, was also inaugurated.

The committee was charged to screen and conduct elections into the executive positions(NECOM) in the association at a date to be agreed on at the next follow-up peace meeting in the next two weeks.

Likewise, Prince Taiye Oyeniyi was inaugurated as the new Patron of the association.

These developments thus signaled a new era and the end of five years of an acrimonious atmosphere in ANLCA.

The peace deal, therefore, dealt a death knell to the controversial interim NECOM.

A new era of peace and tranquility that blows a fresh breath of life to an association that was hitherto held hostage and gasping for breath after five years of suffocation.

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Freight Monitor

ANLCA cracks

Emenike Nwekeoji , ANLCA President
–ASECO chair resigns, cites internal pressure, backbiting, distrust
— insurrection at MMIA chapter as coup against chairman foiled 
The Eyewitness Reporter
Six months after the highly factionalized elections which brought in the duo of Emenike Nwekeoji and Olusegun Oduntan as the National President and Vice President respectively of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) in September 2023, the graveyard peace which heralded the pyrrhic victory seems to have ruptured.
The fragile peace, which was the fallout of the five years of bitter and intractable war that sent the oldest freight forwarding association to a state of inertia, now seems to have given way to distrust, bickering, animosity, suspicion and repressed anger among the top echelon of the association.
To underline the smouldering fresh crisis that has hit the association, Nze Aloy Emeka Igwe, the Chairman of the Association Elections Committee(ASECO )of ANLCA, has resigned his appointment.
In his letter of resignation dated 27th, February 2024 and addressed to the National President, Emenike Nwekeoji, Igwe, in a voice laden with regret and bitterness, cited extraneous influence, backbiting, under current and lack of trust” as the reasons why he called it quit.
“ASECO as presently constituted depicts a divided house due to the extraneous influence and pressure.
” The under current, the backbiting and lack of trust within and without ASECO have caused me to review my membership and chairmanship of the committee.
“I have deeply addressed my thoughts to this, consulted my family, friends and associates and decided that my time with ASECO is irreversibly over.
“There is no energy, no motivation left in me to continue to work under the prevailing regrettable circumstances” Igwe bemoaned.
A few days after the resignation of the highly traumatized ASECO chairman, a coup was played out at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport chapter of the association where one Chief Bola Ashiru Balogun, one of the defeated candidates of the chapter elections staged an unsuccessful coup to unseat the incumbent chairman, Bangbala Adewusi, Monday, March 4th,2024.
In a commando-like style, Chief Bola Balogun came into the Chairman’s office with officers of the Police Force from the Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2, Onikan.
According to an eyewitness account, on the strength of a petition of threat to Life against the Chairman, the Chairman, Chief Adewusi followed them to the Zonal Headquarters
“While the Chairman was away to Zone 2, Chief Bola Balogun allegedly came with hoodlums and area boys to forcefully break into the office of the Chairman and seize power forcefully on the strength of a May 2023 court judgement, which has been appealed and is currently being heard by the Appeal Court”
However, the attempt to unseat Chief Adewusi, who sources said was an unpopular chairman foisted  on the chapter by the cabal in ANLCA, was thwarted by members of the Task Force, led by the CSO, Mr. Maxwell Onyemachi, and other well-meaning members of the chapter loyal to the embattled chairman.
However, the last is yet to be head of the failed coup at the MMIA chapter as a group loyal to Chief Ashiru Balogun has promised to relaunch the attack on the Chairman, Chief Adewusi who they regarded as a puppet of the cabal in the association.
Stakeholders feared that the recent happening in the association may have signaled the slide of ANLCA back to another round of crisis which has ravaged the war-weary group for five years before its graveyard peace that is now shortlived.
The ANLCA President, Emenike Nwekeoji, through the Sectary of the Association, Olumide Fakanlu, “has graciously accepted the resignation letter of the highly embittered ASECO chairman.
In his acceptance letter dated March 1st, 2024 and signed by Fakanlu, the ANLCA President said the letter was received with mixed feelings but nonetheless, it was graciously accepted while wishing Emeka Igwe well in his future endeavours, thus signaling the resumption of hostilities in the acclaimed oldest freight forwarding Association in Nigeria’s maritime industry
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Freight Monitor

CRFFN’s desperate gasp for survival

Mrs Chinyere Uromta, Acting Registrar, CRFFN.

The Eyewitness Reporter

Like a sinking man, the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria(CRFFN) is currently gasping for breath.

The council, created by the Act of the National Assembly No 16 2007, to regulate and control the practice of freight forwarding in Nigeria, has largely remained ineffective and redundant over the years.

Under its watch, the freight forwarders, its primary constituents, have been subjected to several operational challenges which have crippled their businesses, without the Council raising as much as a finger to stand in the gap for them.

Under the nose of the CRFFN, the shipping companies and terminal operators have turned the hapless freight forwarders into punching bags through arbitrary and frivolous charges.

Under the nose of the Council, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has severally increased the Customs duty exchange rate to the point of suffocating the freight forwarders out of business.

In all of these several challenges, the CRFFN stands arms akimbo, watching as the freight Forwarders are being buffeted from all sides without any glimmer of intervention.

Curiously, these are the same distraught and bruised freight forwarders from whom the Council expects to collect Practitioners Operating fee(POF).

A responsible and responsive Council, which is charged not only with regulating the freight forwarding practice but equally charged with ensuring that the operating environment for the freighters is conducive for thriving businesses, would have been seen fighting for the welfare and well-being of its constituents.

A caring Council should have been seen liaising with the CBN, Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service on ways to ensure that the operating environment for the freight forwarders is guaranteed amidst the frequent changes in customs duty exchange rate.

We are not saying the council should or could stop the increase as they are subject to fiscal and monetary policies of the government but at least, the council, through such discussions, interaction and collaboration, would have not only passed the message to the authorities but be seen by the freight forwarders that they have a trusted ally in the council.

Similarly, an effective council should have been seen to have severally engaged the Nigeria Shippers’ Council, which regulates the commercial activities of the terminal operators and shipping companies, over the arbitrary charges of these entities.

But CRFFN, over the years, didn’t do any of these. Rather what its management is concerned about is the collection of POF.

No wonder the Council is not popular among the freight forwarders who regard the body as ineffective and which made them resisted the payment of  POF.

It took the bully and ministerial directive of the erstwhile Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to coerce the hapless freight forwarders to pay the controversial POF.

That is why we see the current effort of Mrs Chinyere Uromta, the Acting Registrar of the CRFFN and her team to “befriend” the freight forwarding Associations as a desperate bid to make the council survive and remain relevant in the industry it is supposed to regulate and superintendent over.

When last had the council made this kind of  gesture towards its constituency?

But when the Federal government pulled the rug under the council by removing it from its budgetary allocation , that was when the CRFFN suddenly found its subjects as beautiful brides.

It is even more disheartening to note that throughout the engagement of the council with these Associations, how to raise revenue through the enhanced formula of POF collection was what dominated the discussion of the council.

We are not aware where the council, during its tour of its constituents, raised the operational challenges of the freight forwarders such as the indiscriminate and sometimes frivolous charges by the service providers.

Not once did Mrs. Uromta express concern and probably sympathy with the freight forwarders over the frequent adjustment of customs duty exchange rate by the CBN.

Her preoccupation was how can the council remains financially stable following the removal of the CRFFN from the federal government “freebies”

“We are expecting a final meeting that could lead us to collection of POF at the airports because we know that our money is still there.

“We pray that by the support of the Ministry and the cooperation of stakeholders, that meeting will be called any moment from now.

“It was the same meeting the former Minister of Transportation, the same letter that was written to the NPA that facilitated our collection at the seaport, the same letter the Minister had written to the aviation to direct NCAA to initiate that move.

“So, we are looking forward to the fruitfulness of that meeting and when it is done, we solicit for the cooperation of stakeholders because any money realized, part of it will still go back to stakeholders for training and every other challenge that we have in the ports that has to do with our mandate.”

That was Mrs. Uromta discussing how to collect enhance the collection of POF at the seaports and commence its collection at the cargo airport and the border post and the modalities for sharing formula.

Not once did she mention the operational challenges the practitioners are currently facing.

Even if the proposed review of the Act that established the Council eventually sails through ( that might take quite some time) the popularity rating of the Council will not improve if the regulatory body continues to ignore the welfare of the freight forwarders.

The previous Registrars, especially the immediate Registrar, Sam Nwokohu, have done great harm to the psyche of the freight forwarders through his alleged arrogance, high- handedness, and gross financial impropriety which have combined to make the council a pariah among its constituents.

Mrs. Uromta and her team should be more creative and proactive in their approach toward reflating the burst image of the council.

In as much as she has the right to ensure the financial stability and survival of the council, Uromta should not forget that her constituents, the agonised, distraught and highly bruised freight forwarders equally have the right to business stability in an operating environment that would stimulate and sustain their economic survival.

Part of the strategic agenda of the council as contained in its Act includes “to  promote enabling entrepreneurial environment for Freight Forwarding business, thereby creating employment opportunities for teaming Nigeria”

“To embark on rigorous research to enable the Council benchmark Freight Forwarding in Nigeria with international best practices”

“To make the Council an international training hub for Freight Forwarding, logistics and supply chain management”

“To develop a comprehensive Freight Forwarding policy and to re-position the sub-sector”

To what extent has the council fulfilled this mandate since its creation?

The incumbent management of the council should do more to meet some of these mandates rather than its present panicky and desperate measures for survival.

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Freight Monitor

Major industry stakeholders shun ANLCA’s NECOM inauguration

The Eyewitness Reporter 
Apparently pissed off by the protracted crisis that had made the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) a laughing stock in the maritime industry in the last five years, major industry stakeholders stayed away from the inauguration of the new National Executive Council of the association.
The new NECOM, headed by Emenike Nwokeoji, was inaugurated Thursday, November 23rd, 2023 at Marcellina Place on Isaac John Street, Ikeja.
Despite the hyped nature of the event with a vaunted grade A list of invited stakeholders, most of the stakeholders whose names were flaunted at the pre-event press conference shunned the inauguration ceremony.
Top on the list of the invited guest who didn’t honour the invitation was Wale Adeniyi, the Comptroller General of Customs, who was said to have indicated his intention to personally attend.
“Already, the Customs Comptroller General has given us his word that he would be coming personally for the inauguration” the Special Assistant to the ANLCA President on Media, Alhaji Ayokunle Sulaiman, had boasted a few days before the event.
Adeniyi sent ACG Jibo Mohammed, Zonal Coorinator, Zone A, Lagos.
Curiously, none of the heads of the agencies of government in the maritime industry such as the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers’Council Council, Council of Registered Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) showed up nor sent their representatives.
More instructive was the absence of the CRFFN which is the regulatory agency for the freight forwarding industry to which ANLCA belongs.
The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola, neither came nor sent a representative.
The mass boycott of the event by the notable industry players was despite the hype to which the organizers had subjected the expected attendance of these critical stakeholders.
“The industry bigwigs, which included the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola, the Comptroller General of Customs Adewale Adeniyi, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohamed Bello-Koko, all indicated their interest to attend” Alhaji Ayokunle Sulaiman had further declared before the event.
More instructive is the absence of some of the past Presidents of the Association whose attendance would have further boosted the event.
An eyewitness account has it that apart from three past leaders of ANLCA such as Prince Shittu Olayiwola, Alhaji Innua Mohammed and understandably, Chief Ernest Elochukwu, others stayed away without sending representatives.
This was despite their hyped expected attendance.
“Also, past presidents of ANLCA and past Board of Trustees Chairmen will be in attendance” Alhaji Ayokunle Sulaiman had declared prior to the event.
Most of the terminal operators, who have business nexus with the freight forwarders, were also not keen to attend the hyped event.
Apart from Grimaldi, operators of PTML and ENL, which sent junior representatives, others like PTML, Ports and Cargos, Five Stars Logistics, and Tin Can Island Port terminal all stayed away.
For inexplicable reasons, sister freight forwarding groups, who are among the five registered freight forwarding associations with the CRFFN, also stayed away, except the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) whose President was in attendance.
However, according to eyewitness reports, what the event lacked in attendance of key industry stakeholders, it gained in the massive presence of the ANLCA members who thronged the venue apparently due to long years of being starved of such air of conviviality as a result of the long- drawn crisis in ANLCA.
Stakeholders however believed that the absence of key industry stakeholders at the ANLCA event despite their due invitation and consultation is a sign of delibitating confidence of this important stock in the industry due to the long years of factional war in the association.
They however urged the Emenike Nwokeoji-led executive council to work assiduously in order to restore the fading glory of ANLCA.
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