The Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Sir Mike Jukwe has given reasons why foreign companies engage in freight forwarding business in Nigeria despite efforts to get Nigerians engage in the business alone in the spirit of the Local Content Law.
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos, Jukwe hinted that foreigners were involved in freight forwarding especially in countries that had liberalized trade which according to him most countries were doing today.
He observed that because freight forwarding had security implications, it was very delicate to allow foreigners to be involved in the business and that Nigeria cannot be an exception adding that if Nigeria allows them to come into freight forwarding, that security aspect would be jeopardized and certain places would be compromised.
“CRFFN Regulation of Freight Forwarding 2010 has spelt out the qualifications for registering freight forwarders both individuals and corporate bodies. For corporate bodies, it is insisted that any foreign firm that has to do business in Nigeria, either the Managing Director, that is the Chief executive Officer or the Chief Operating Officer must be a Nigerian. That is to ensure that Nigeria has a stake in that body”.
“We are going to enforce that and when that issue is enforced, I think it will be done the way it should be, areas that we are afraid that should not be touched will be addressed”, Jukwe said.
While revealing that the National Council on Transport has been made by the intervention of CRFFN to insist that all Federal government contracts that had the freight forwarding component should be made to be done by the Nigerian freight forwarders, he posited that the CRFFN was going to insist that that resolution of the National Council of Transport was implemented.
The CRFFN boss note,” and let me tell you why foreign companies do freight forwarding in Nigeria. It is because of the concept of door-to-door. Where door-to-door is involved in any freight forwarding business, for instance, a shipper in Europe may have a corresponding body here in Nigeria who is into freight forwarding. They will prefer that that body will carry on the aspect of freight forwarding on their behalf”.
He however stated that this practice should not be encouraged by the Nigerian shippers as according to him, allowing such practice would culminate in Nigerian freight forwarders surrendering their jobs to foreign companies who would gladly take them away from them.
“So, it is for us to fight and ensure that that component is not included in any agreement Nigerians are signing with their foreign shippers out there. That should be left so that when the cargo comes in, it will be cleared by the local freight forwarders. It is only when that is not in the agreement that you find it easy to do anything in that regard”.
“Like I said, in our own regulation for a foreign company to operate in Nigeria as a freight forwarder, one of the conditions is that the CEO or the COO must be a Nigerian and we will enforce it to the later”, he said.
On his part, the National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu argued that they were worried not just because of the loss the Nigerian freight forwarders may suffer as a result of foreign companies engaging in freight forwarding but because of the matters of national security adding that the economy of this nation was in foreign hands.
While blaming the Nigerian Customs Service for giving Customs license to expatriates, he however blamed Nigerians for fronting for those foreign companies so as to secure licenses from the Customs and registration from the Corporate Affairs Commission on their behalf describing it as sabotage.
“There must be a deliberate government policy and I see government hands in covering up but we know that it is not good for our nation especially the security implication”, Shittu said.