Prince Bakare Adeyinka is a seasoned freight forwarder with a practicing experience spanning 20 years. Recently, he was elected as the President-General of the National Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) to succeed Mr. Chukwuka Abianuru Thomas Agubamah whose eight year tenure has expired. In this interview with our correspondent in Lagos, he bares his mind on so many things bothering on the association and the freight forwarding industry generally. Excerpts;
Can we you tell us about yourself sir?
My name is Prince Bakare Adeyinka. I have been in the industry for quite some time now. This is my 20th year in the industry, this is all i have been doing all my life, freight forwarding and logistics. I have been here in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and so on. I have been a member of NAFFAC for between 6 and 7 years.
You said that you have been in the freight forwarding industry for 20 years now, is it all about air freight forwarding or does it include experience in aspects of freight forwarding?
I have worked in all the ports in Nigeria and i am still working in all the ports in Nigeria, be it at airport, land borders or seaports. So, it is not about air freight forwarding. One thing about about NAFFAC is just that the people that founded it added ‘Air’ because it started at the airport and the put air freight into it but NAFFAC is beyond the air freight. In fact, members cut across all the ports. The name as you know it today is National Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators and everybody is a consolidator either by air, land or by sea. But i believe that we are still going to work on it by the special grace of God so that we will expand our scope.
You are today by the grace God, the President-General of NAFFAC, what would you different from what you met on ground?
One of them is that when we came in over a month ago, we have been trying to rebrand the association, bringing it back to the attention of the agencies that we have been operating with. For the past one week now, we have been having courtesy visits on agencies and commands within the Lagos airport in particular now. We visited the Nigeria Police, we visited Immigration, we visited NDLEA Commandant, we visited the Director of SSS, hopefully, during the week or by next week, we will be having courtesy visit to SON and the Nigerian export Promotion Council, Nigerian Ports Authority, NCAA and the rest.
So, we are trying to bring back the association and to also register and to be candid, you know that NAFFAC has been in existence since 1985, we are the one of the oldest in the industry after ANLCA but for one reason or the other, it has not been able to make much noise because they believed that they just want to remain quiet and operate silently in the system. But I believe it has gone beyond that for us to begin to see things from a broader angle and allow other individuals to come on board and see how we could move the association forward, expand the chapters to every other airports and seaports in Nigeria.
So, we are seriously working on that and I believe that by the grace of God, we have four years to do this job and at the end of the four years, we should be able to say this is what we were able to do and achieve.
Most members of NAFFAC are mainly aged people, what are your plans to infuse younger blood into the association during your tenure as President know that your sister associations are busy scrambling for members especially the younger ones?
See, you don’t need to spend money to get membership, you only need to sell your idea and what you want to do. I can tell you that even at the national level, we have some positions that were not filled but as at today, we are having people that are showing interest that they want to come and contest for those positions because in a few days, they have seen what we were ale to achieve and what we are bringing on board. They could see the kind of rebranding we are bringing up and they felt that this is a thing we must identify with.
It is not about spending money, it is about spending your idea on what you really want to do and how you want to do it. I can’t go and bring an Okada rider to come and register as a freight forwarder, we need to bring those who are professionals and those who know what they are doing in the business to come and register with us and the best way for you to do this is for you to sell your idea and let them know what a freight forwarder should do and what it takes to be a freight forwarder.
Probably, we might need to amend some sections of our constitution to take care of some of these things and to accommodate a larger number of people and that will be done and I am very sure we will achieve that. It is better for us to have new idea, new blood instead of us rotating the usual.
How would you manage the older members of the association being a much younger person so as not to offend some individuals in running the association?
The truth is this, we are not talking about age here now in this profession or in the association. I know that they are older than me, I am an African man and a Yoruba man for that matter, I cannot see the former PG now and stretch out my hand to shake him. So, he’s older and I need to give him the position of a father, i need to keep going to him for advice. At times, I share ideas with him, this is what we intend to do, how do you see it? And he will say to me, do your thing, I believe you can do it.
It will surprise you that in most of the courtesy visits that we have embarked on, he followed us, he will tell us, when you are going, call me, I need to be there when you are going, the same thing with the Board of Trustees, former executives, they were all there on the courtesy visits because they themselves realized that something new is up and they are ready to be part of it.
So, it has nothing to do with age, once they see that you are coming with a very good intention and you are having a positive attitude towards them, they are ready to give you your respect as long as I am respecting them. I don’t have any cause to have any argument with them, we don’t have anything that we want to share here.
Before now, NAFFAC doesn’t make noise in going about their issues, they quietly handle any matter both within and outside the association without raising dust. Now, that you are in-charge, is it still going to be that way or are we going to see a lot of noise in going about some issues in NAFFAC?
If there are issues that need to be broadcast, we will broadcast them. If there are issues that need to be handled silently, we will. Like I said earlier, internally, NAFFAC is not having issues and we wouldn’t want to have any, we are ready to come to the level of anybody to get their views and opinion, we are ready to carry everybody along as long as it has to do with the association issues, policies and whatsoever but we are also not going to go against the association’s constitution and the policy that established the association.
And any agency that we are working with, we need to look at the Act that established the agency and we take them on anything that pertains to them as long as it is according to the Act that established them. We are not going to go away from that but if need be for us to make noise, we will do that. But NAFFAC still remains NAFFAC.
Before now, you were restricted to the Lagos Airport alone and you don’t see more of NAFFAC outside here. How do you want to go about chapter expansion during your tenure?
It is not correct that NAFFAC is just here in Lagos Airport. We have a chapter in Calabar, we have a chapter in Port-Harcourt. As a matter of fact, we even had a chapter in Apapa before but for one reason or the other, the chapter had issues and they decided to do away with it. The secretariat then was inside Eleganza Plaza.
But what we are doing now is that we are re-engineering the Calabar chapter any moment from now, the port-Harcourt chapter, then Apapa, Tincan chapters will come on board. By the special grace of God, probably before December, all this things will come on board. Once that is done, we shall be talking about Abuja and Kano chapters and others. But we are still working on those chapter but still, one of those things that our association wants to do is to look into our constitution and our by-laws and see what we can amend in order to expand our scope and bring more members on board.
Does the amendment of the association’s constitution and by-laws include removing the ‘Air’ in your name to accommodate other aspects of freight forwarding because it seems the ‘Air’ in your name puts a lot of limitations to your expansion drive?
If possible, we are going to do that but we are seriously looking at that.
What will be your relationship with the CRFFN during your tenure as President?
We are having a good relationship with CRFFN. They were here during our election, they were here during our inauguration, we inform them of any of our moves, we informed them of even the chapters we are trying to re-engineer , we have informed them ahead of time, though no date has been fixed for it. They are the regulatory body, so, there is nothing we can do about informing them. I am very sure we are having a very good relationship with them. As at today, we are not having issues and I don’t think we are going to have issues. By the grace of God, I am also representing NAFFAC in the CRFFN Board.
Talking about having good relationship with CRFFN, does it include registering more of your members with the Council judging by your association’s poor outing in the last CRFFN Governing Council election who you got less than ten votes?
That is not correct. If you witnessed the election, the number of votes secured by NAFFAC on that is around 38 or so. So, we did not get one or two votes, no. I am very sure we did not get one vote, we did not get ten votes, we did not get twenty, so, go and check, you can contact CRFFN and they can furnish you with the result of the election. The name on that ballot paper was Bakare Adeyinka and I think if not 38 votes, it should 28 votes on that day and that was probably because we could not move people from here to that place on that very day.
But two or three days before that election that we went for accreditation, we accredited one hundred and thirteen members for that election. So, we are well represented but the issue now is that NAFFAC is just for corporate bodies and each corporate body is represented by one person. So, that is another area we want to see if we can expand to allow a number of people coming on board but presently, if you are not a corporate body, you cannot be a member of NAFFAC. So, all those will also be looked into by the grace of God.
So, where is the place of training in the whole of your package?
Training is something we are taking seriously. It is just unfortunate that some of the visits that we have embarked on, we decided not to bring the press in for now because we want to get to certain stage before we involve them. We are already talking to some agencies, asking them if there is any other thing that they are doing that they will want our members to get knowledge from according to their operation and many of them have given us their word that seminars and conferences to enlighten people, more especially the NDLEA, they mentioned the issue of drug trafficking, that they would want to educate our members as a way of helping the agency reduce the menace of drug trafficking to a very minimal percentage.
But on our own here, we are also looking at the CRFFN education, to see how we are going to bring some of their lecturers down here and talk with our members to see the time they will be able to attend it so as to see how the association will help them.
How are you going to relate with other associations in the industry?
There is no camps in the associations, the associations are for freight forwarders, ANLCA, NAFFAC, AREFFN, NAGAFF, National Council. I just have a very simple explanation to it. If ANLCA says they are licensed customs agents, I am a licensed customs agent because I have customs license. So, with that, I am a member of ANLCA even though I am not registered with them. If NAGAFF says they are government approved freight forwarders meaning that they are approved by the government just going by their name, I am an approved freight forwarder, automatically, I am a member of NAGAFF, every other thing is formalities. If AREFFN says they association of registered freight forwarders, am I not registered? If the national council says they are national council of managing directors, I am a managing director of my organization.
So, what we are just doing is duplication of names, I believe that they are for one purpose and one aim and which is for the betterment of this profession, freight forwarding which is paramount in all of us. So, it is not an individual thing, no matter how old you will be, we will surely leave this association one day. So, I am not seeing any faction here. I am one of those that called and congratulated Tony Iju when he won APGA primaries, I am in good terms with his Vice, Farinto, I still talked to him while I was coming this. Bala is a good friend, the founder of AREFFN is a good friend, National Council, Kelly and all his people, I take them as fathers and senior ones in the industry.
So, I don’t think there is need for bickering, if there is anything I need from them, I call them and ask them how to go about it. To me, there is no camp here but what we should be doing and I think it is paramount, let us build a profession that can compete with every other profession. Until we come together as one and make ourselves important for the whole country to reckon with, then, they might still be looking at us as a profession of touts or a profession of drop outs.
Your message for your members
It is very simple, and like i have told them before, they should look at this as a new regime, a regime that is ready to move forward, a regime that is ready to change from the norm to the normal, a regime that is ready to take NAFFAC to the next level, a regime that is ready to make NAFFAC top among the registered associations and most preferred in the freight forwarding industry and with their help and assistance, we could achieve a lot together.
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