Following the recent interview granted to this medium last week by a member of the Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Chief Peter Obi, the leadership of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has advised him to refrain from discussing issues relating to the Council publicly as he has not been given such powers to do so.
The National President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche who stated this in a telephone interview with our correspondent yesterday informed Obi that the new Chairman had not made him the spokesman for the Council or anybody for that matter advising that members should refrain from making utterances that would jeopardize the Council.
Uche said that all that Obi gave as his own account of what transpired between members of the Council and the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi during their inauguration in Abuja recently in the said interview was not actually what transpired adding that he was being petty and childish in his narrative. He therefore speaks as follows;
Before Governing Council Election:
Let me start by saying that I am not supposed to give full brief of what happened in Abuja because so many other things happened that is not supposed to be made public yet but I simply want to react to what I have been reading concerning Chief Peter Obi, what he has been saying as what happened because his particular version of the story tends to mislead the general public. He is not being truthful. I have read him severally and it is quite disheartening what he has been saying concerning issues that have to do with POF, issues that have to do with registration of members, issues that have to do with what actually transpired between us and the Minister.
But before the inauguration proper, from his account, I don’t think he meant well for this third Council, the same activity that they carried out that saw the near failure of their first and second tenure is what I think he is trying to replay. I want to categorically say that people like him should be thanking their God for making them to be members of the Council because of NAGAFF’s magnanimity. That we allowed an all-inclusive Council, particularly the founder of NAGAFF who deserves an accolade, in fact, what he did to allow every other person to be there needs to be commended. People should bury their face in shame, the way my name is being called by Chief Peter Obi as if I am their problem.
He mentionined how the Minister rejected our current Chairman and then was favouring Bala and how Bala said that they should give it to Abubakar Tsanni, that was wrong now. It was the magnanimity of our current Chairman that made the Minister to change his mind. When Minister said that he would have preferred to give it to Bala, left for him if not for the name, that he would have preferred Bala. Our current Chairman who is not over ambitious said okay, it is the same thing, that let Bala be give Chairman of the while they themselves (ANLCA) was clamouring and shouting it should be our current Chairman and he (Tsanni) said no, let the Minister give it to Bala and the Minister now said no, that with that singular statement, that he was going to give Abubakar Tsanni the Chairmanship position. He’s just a child of destiny. And all of us accepted because we don’t want to go into any argument and whatever.
Peter Obi is the only contemporary I have in that Council because we contested election together in 2008 and the way he keeps positioning himself as the mouthpiece of the Council is uncalled for. We have not made him the mouthpiece, the Chairman has not appointed anyone to speak for the Council. It is only the Chairman or his appointee that can divulge what is going on in the Council. We have done our first inaugural meeting and for somebody to come out to be seen, what they did not do during their own time, now he wants to remember that they should carry it out. We wouldn’t like anybody to bring confusion; we will not allow any of the members of the Board to distract us.
So, you look at some that you wouldn’t know that are suffering from the Diarrhea of the mouth to begin to talk when you are not supposed to talk even when you are supposed to keep quite. You are talking because you want people to see you. NAGAFF would have secured all the 15 slots if it had wanted and those people that are talking now shouldn’t have been there to know what is going on because we would have collected all the 15 positions. Look at the number of people that NAGAFF registered with CRFFN, the people that paid up their registration and subscription up to date for the election, how many are they?
I read where he was quoted as saying that the current Council will embark on membership registration, that portrays him as not progressive because these were the minds that were working against the survival of the Council. While registration has been ongoing since 2009 and how can somebody claiming to have been the Chairman of the registration committee, would now come back to tell us that we should go back to continuous registration, for the Council to remain at its formative stage? Are we to remain at formative stage when we should be talking of enforcement? We have gotten sizeable registered members of the Council, the staff of CRFFN had been trained to carry out registration now, it’s ongoing, we shouldn’t give priority to that again.
We should look at enforcing the law now, those that have not registered, we should force them to go back to CRFFN and register, we have gotten a sizeable staff of CRFFN to take care of that. This shouldn’t be a course for concern now. Look at what NAGAFF has been doing whenever we want to conduct election, we will ensure that eligibility to contest in that election will be based on the register of CRFFN. That was the way we were able to sustain the Council up till date, paying all those monies and all that.
How can somebody with the age and experience of Chief Peter Obi be telling us of membership registration? What have they been doing? All this while, they have been discouraging people not to register with CRFFN thinking that the place will die off, today they claim that they are freight forwarders, tomorrow they claim they are clearing agents, struggling to either become a freight forwarder or remain a clearing agent.
What I am saying is that Peter Obi, like what he has been saying, I attempt to read some of his mischief and I take exception of him mentioning my name always, he has been saying it that he wouldn’t stand and see me becoming the Chairman of the Council where he is a member, I have the qualities of even becoming the President of this country, forget about the fact that some of us parades themselves as being financially sound and all that, that is not the only thing that plays out in life, there are other versions of life that count also”.
Practitioners’ Operating Fee (POF):
I also read him say that the POF collection is not the priority of the Council; we are equally watching the body language of some of them. The Minister has made a pronouncement in respect of POF, before now, we have had previous approvals to collect POF and these monies have been going into private pockets and it is good that we have gotten a report, we already have a report that we want to work on and let nobody pre-empt what the intention of this new Chairman of the Council would be.
Those that are afraid because I know in no distant time, that some of them will be called to give account on issues concerning that POF. Let them not be jittery, if you have eaten government’s money as the Minister said, you must vomit it because I am aware that what ANLCA said initially was that until they put a Council in place, that they will not allow the collection of POF. The Council is in place now and we can see discordant tunes.
We have not gotten to that level, if we want to collect POF tomorrow, we start the collection tomorrow because the life wire of any organization has to do with funding and we don’t have any other means of funding this Council. I am aware of the Oronsanye’s committee report that said that if any government agency that cannot fund itself should be scrapped or merged and that has given rise to giving customs 7% of their total collection, 2% to ship agents, FIRS is taking their own, the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, 15% of all contracts done locally here, we are aware of NPA collecting 7% surcharge and others. POF is the only money that can sustain CRFFN.
We are still studying it, nobody stepped it down, the report that came out is what we said we should go and study, we have not stepped down any issue, every other thing is in the pipeline. Let me tell you again that I trust this very Chairman, some of them that are now jittery because the POF collection is non-negotiable, nobody can stop it, so those that have been collecting it and keeping it in their private accounts, would one day render account. It is better now that everybody should give cooperation”.
Indirect Attack on Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni:
I even heard Peter Obi saying about retirees, that is attacking the Chairman indirectly. That the Council will no longer accept people retiring from LASTMA, from Police coming into freight forwarding, he wants to start causing confusion, somebody he supported, now he has gone to the press again to start blackmailing people indirectly, it is only that some of us don’t read in between the lines. What he said was an indirect attack on our Chairman, where people will retire from the civil service and all that or from other professions and then come into freight forwarding, that that wouldn’t be allowed any longer. People should learn how to tame their utterances. Granting press interview at this level by this man is not allowed, he is not the spokesperson for the Council for the time being. So, it is either he keeps quite now or we put a mouth guard.
Knowing Alhaji Abubakr Tsanni from NAGAFF:
Let me tell you that I read him too where he said that he saw the man (Abubakar Tsanni) first with NAGAFF people during the election and he asked who the man was and he was told that he is a freight forwarder, that he saw him cast his vote and that the man is working with NAGAFF, that NAGAFF people were the ones fronting the man, and at the end of the day, NAGAFF was also vying for the Chairman of the Council. You can understand the mixed up there for you to know what the truth should be.
And again, he stopped there, that was the last he knew anything concerning the man and later what happened again was the man was presented before the Minister and he immediately stood up to nominate the man to be the Chairman. You can begin to understand for you to know if he is being economical with the truth or not. He never had any interaction with the man again and there was no nocturnal meeting going on. Now he only met the man proper during inauguration in Abuja, then he nominated him, somebody you don’t know very, you have not been interacting with him, then you just nominated him because you only saw him with NAGAFF people and then you came to the Minister’s conference hall during the election and nominated him.
The second is the fact that he didn’t even confide in us what transpired when he invited us to a meeting in his room at Abuja. What did he told us? That we should allow this man to be the Chairman of the Council since it is only for two years and he leaves. That we wouldn’t understand what he was saying, that what an old man will sit down and see, that a young man, even when he climbs up to the top of the tree or roof of the house, he won’t be able to see it. So, what does that suggest? So, the best thing for us to advise him is for him to find a way of keeping quiet. We have seen his antecedent, we are not surprised, our Chairman has been given to us and nobody should contradict it”.
Governing Council Agenda for CRFFN
We at the Council are not going to leave any stone unturned, first is that those people that killed the first Council, we will not give them the chance again, they can’t mess us up anymore, we must make sure that we correct all those failures just like Dr. Eugene Nweke said in his congratulatory message when he was congratulating this man (Tsanni) because I read what he said, he did made a comment that the former Council did not do well, that part of what the former Council did wrong needed to be corrected right now.
So, that is the line we want to toe and that former Councils included Chief Peter Obi, if that Council didn’t do well, even his registration exercise where he refused to register NAGAFF because he bluntly refused to register NAGAFF until we petitioned, myself, the founder of NAGAFF, to the Inspector General of Police where we went to understand that NAGAFF even made it to the first position judging by the criteria they used in assessing the associations. That was what forced him because this is a man that has continued to practice hatred, what have they achieved all these years that they have been fighting NAGAFF and have not succeeded.
NAGAFF is not flexing any muscle with any association, irrespective of how many years that they claimed to have been in the industry, what matters is the information and ideas that you have. In the industry today, we know the history of NAGAFF, we know our rating. So, if they are afraid, now that we are in the Council, it is going to be no holds bar, we are going to make sure that we deliver and liberate the freight forwarders. People like him that are coming from the other side that want to take us back to Egypt, we will not allow that because this utterances that he is making, fronting himself that he has experience tend to even portray him as not having the qualities.
They should go back and thank their ‘chi’ that NAGAFF allowed them to be there and they are all sell out, which is very unfortunate. I remember during their meeting in Abuja when their President came, I learnt that in the meeting with their President when he came to Abuja before the inauguration, he was telling them that what they were trying to do, if at all NAGAFF failed to be either the Chairman or Vice, that it is not justifiable, because I got the hint of what transpired in their meeting. But for you to see people that have no conscience, you still went ahead to grant this kind of interview to the press instead of being grateful to NAGAFF.
I want him to refrain from being personal in some of the issues in his utterances, let him tackle issues and leave my person alone. What personal issue does he have with me? He is antagonizing me, showing acrimony against NAGAFF always. While he was Chairman of the registration committee, that committee never produced any result, there wasn’t any concrete result. How many people did they register? And in the CRFFN register, how many of them are there? Out of 1,350, NAGAFF registered 1,200 that paid up to 2008 subscription and we allowed them. Until we get to the business of the Council, we know what to do.
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