The leadership of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has called on the newly appointed Minister of Transport, Alhaji Muazu Sambo to address years of abnormality in the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) for the interest of freight forwarders.
Both Founder, Dr.Boniface Aniebonam and President, Chief Tochukwu Ezisi expressed disappointment that the CRFFN has been hijacked and run as a government agency as against the tenets of a professional regulatory body it is meant to be.
Aniebonam in a chat with SHIPPING DAY said CRFFN is currently being run as a government agency under the Ministry of Transport.
Describing the regulatory agency as a curse because of the handling said the Council has failed to add value to the freight forwarding practitioners that it is supposed to serve.
He said that though the whole essence of CRFFN was to control and regulate the practice of freight forwarding in Nigeria, this objective is not being achieved.
He called on the Minister to carry out an investigation on why CRFFN was established and reposition it to achieve that purpose.
Aniebonam said, “If we must set an agenda for the minster, we will expect him to find out what is happening with CRFFN. It is becoming a curse. Domiciling CRFFN under the Transport Ministry as a supervisory ministry is a curse because CRFFN seems not to have added any value. The essence of that legislating instrument made by the National Assembly in respect of CRFFN is not being achieved. And this is worrisome because CRFFN is a catalyst to matters of proper administration of the ports industry. When you look at the logistics sector and the freight forwarders, the whole essence is regulatory. CRFFN is to control and regulate the practice of freight forwarding in Nigeria and the practitioners are very strategic to the national economy. But this is not working out and the result is that government is losing revenue. People are losing their investments in the Nigerian ports because of lack of professional ethics. In dealing with the Customs, people don’t seem to understand what the whole thing is all about. Revenue is very dear to government if they must meet their responsibilities in terms of policies for nation building”.
Aniebonam attributed the ugly development as painted here to the fact that government hijacked CRFFN which has failed to go in the direction of the founding freight forwarders.
He also argued that the expectations of the CRFFN have failed to be realized as a result of government intervention in the Council.
He called on the Minister to use his short stay in the Ministry to address the mistakes of the past.
He said, “So if we are to set agenda for the Minister, let him go and find out whether CRFFN is an agency of the government or not. And we are saying it is not an agency of government. Government has so much to do other than a private council that is self-regulatory. The ideals of regulation is that those involved should regulate themselves under government supervision. But right now, what we get is that the Chairman of the Council who is an elected person from the Institute of Freight Forwarders is an appointee of the Transport Ministry other than Mr President. It is only Mr President that appoints Chairmen of the Board of Parastatals and the President does not do that like what you get in the NSC, NIMASA, NPA, NIWA and others”.
He queried, “can you now say that the Chairman of CRFFN is a civil servant when he is an elected member from the Institute of Freight Forwarding. So, what I expect the Minister to do and that will add a lot of value to port productivity is to dig deep into what should be status of the CRFFN.
On whether there was one-on-one with the former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi on the subject matter before he left off, Aniebonam asked, “where will you see him to discuss that? Amaechi, the last day he was leaving office, he was asking, “ I understand some people say CRFFN is an agency of the government, so some say, it is not, which is it? Look at what a Minister is saying, loot at what government is saying, Amaechi is government because he is representing the government. Why not ask the Attorney General to do that interpretation for you”.
The National President of NAGAFF, Ezisi who also spoke to SHIPPING DAY on the issue said the Minister has a task as far as the affairs of CRFFN were concerned.
He said the Minister needs to find out to know if CRFFN is government agency or not.
He said, “the Minister needs to look into the CRFFN governing board because if you don’t get it right from the CRFFN, you can’t get it right down the line. A whole lot of things has been on concerning the CRFFN to determine if CRFFN is government agency or not”.
The NAGAFF President added “there is so much ambiguity with the Act which makes it difficult to say whether it (CRFFN) is agency of government or not.
“The new minister should work seriously on this because CRFFN is an umbrella which every freight forwarder is supposed to key into. Now, if you get it right at the CRFFN, then freight forwarders will be speaking with one voice”.