‘You can’t bite the fingers that feed you’
By Francis Ugwoke
The Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, has threatened to declare key members of the association who are against the sharing formula, otherwise known as 6: 6:1:1:1 arrangement, in the forthcoming election into the Governing Board of the Council Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) persona non-grata except they backpedal on their position.
This is following the impasse on arriving at a solution to the disagreement between the freight forwarding associations and independent candidates.
The leaders of the freight forwarding associations held a reconciliation meeting on the issue as advised by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, which was shunned by the independent candidates
But realizing that majority of the independent candidates opposed to the sharing formula adopted by the freight forwarding associations were from NAGAFF, the founder said they will be punished by the association except they change.
In an exclusive chat with SHIPPING DAY, Aniebonam ruled out the idea of calling the members to a meeting, saying it will not make any meaning, adding that they have been deliberate in their actions.
He said that NAGAFF leadership was waiting for the former President, Dr. Eugene Nweke and Dr. Increase Uche, who is expected to hand over to a new President on October 30, “to do what they want to do” , adding that NAGAFF was also at liberty on its own line of action against them.
Aniebonam insisted that those who are now protesting against the sharing formula as agreed by the associations were in the past beneficiaries of the system.
Describing the actions of the NAGAFF members whom he pointed out were the main problem to the 6: 6:1:1:1 arrangement as “unbelievable”, Aniebonam said they will be declared persona non-grata, insisting that it was wrong to bite the fingers that feed you.
He told SHIPPING DAY, “Individuals are free to say whatever they want to say, but if we say individuals, who are those individuals? Is it not Increase Uche who is at the moment the President of NAGAFF until Oct 30 when the baton will change.
“He is a member of the last Council . He went into the Council through the platform of NAGAFF under 188.8.131.52 formulation. Eugene Nweke , the former President of NAGAFF went through the platform of NAGAFF because certain things happened then as the former Minister of Transportation had to bring in Eugene through the South East just to make sure NAGAFF is represented in the Council.
“Who are these people talking?. Otunba Frank is a former member of NAGAFF, so it seems NAGAFF people are the problem and we expect them to know more than others, If not mere human behaviour”, he said.
When asked if NAGAFF would consider calling Nweke and Uche for a meeting for amicable settlement, Aniebonam dismissed this.
He said, “No, we don’t have to do that. It is not important because what they are doing is deliberate. We leave them to finish what they want to do. If you go and start talking to them, it does not make sense because they have made up their mind on what they want to do. We at NAGAFF are also at liberty to do what we will do. “At least, if we have nothing to do, we declare them persona non-grata. Yes, as far as this thing is finished, we will declare them persona non-grata. All of them. Even if you are President of NAGAFF before, we say we delete you, we remove your name, pictures from the Hall of Famers in NAGAFF Hall of Famers. They cannot do that…. “You cannot bite the fingers that feed you. It is so naked that they are going against the interest of NAGAFF.
“It is unbelievable and the entire NAGAFF are unanimous about that. But let us see what happens. First thing first they will suffer is two of them (Nweke and Uche) will exit as if they have never been members of NAGAFF. Bet me, I am telling you as the Founder of NAGAFF. They are at liberty to go and form their own association. Of course, they have formed their own association. That is alright, we are not bothered”.
It would be recalled that the reconciliation meeting was held in Apapa, Lagos, with Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, former President of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), Dr Frank Ukor in attendance.
The aggrieved independent candidates shunned the meeting.
Ukor said he attended the meeting as the Founder of AREFFN.
The President General, Nigerian Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), Prince Adeyinka Bakare, who attended the meeting had expressed surprise that the independent candidates were not in attendance, adding that they were all invited to the meeting.
However, the association leaders resolved that they still stand on their earlier position on 6:6:1:1:1 arrangement, under which ANLCA, NAGAFF will get 6 candidates slots each while the three other associations will get each slot for the CRFFN Governing Board election.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, said after every consideration, the associations stand on having the sharing formula arrangement.
Ladipo however explained that the leaders were not opposed to any individual who wants to contest the election.
He told newsmen “We are not opposed or averse to any individual who wants to contest for this election, everybody is free to contest the election. We are not equally opposed to the younger ones coming up but these five leaders must provide leadership that will move the freight forwarding business forward and as such, we still stand by the arrangement 6:6:1:1:1.”
Ukor whose association, AREFFN, had distanced itself from being part of the sharing arrangement during the meeting with the Ministry of Transport, said it was unfortunate they took that position.
He said, “I came in as the founder of AREFFN, I heard what happened at that meeting and I came in here now to say that it was a mistake that they made to have taken that stand and I stand here as the founder of AREFFN to say that I am going ahead with all the associations. That the five associations have agreed but I did say that after this one, next one, Obi has become a man.”
Sources close to the independent candidates said they will not be part of any reconciliation that will deny them their legal right as provided in the CRFFN Act as far as the election is concerned.
‘You can’t bite the fingers that feed you’