…Lack of fund not peculiar to CRFFN – Njoku
…Says debt incurred before inception of present Council
The founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has alleged that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) is broke at the moment and is indebted to some organizations among which is the Rockview Hotels, Apapa.
Aniebonam who made the disclosure in an interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos recently said that he was aware that the Chairman of the Governing Council, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni was using his private money to run the Council presently.
While admitting that the Council needed money to do a lot of things, he however posited that he was not sure the Council had so much money otherwise a private firm; SW Global would not have sponsored the Dubai retreat for members of the Council.
In his words,” The Council has been doing so much internally, they are restructuring internally, they will soon come out. Meeting the freight forwarders, I am aware it is part of their schedule, so, any moment from now that will happen. Again, somebody somewhere is discouraging that (meeting with freight forwarders) inside the Council, why?
“If their target is only money, collection of POF, that is what I am beginning to see, that is okay because without that money, the Council cannot do much. I don’t think they have so much money to use if SW Global can sponsor them. I am aware that the Chairman himself is using his private money to do some certain things, I am aware, for instance, they owe Rockview Hotels and some other people they owe. So, internally, the Chairman and the few good minds among them are trying to patch up the level of destruction.
“There are certain things they need to do, they need to go to the Federal Executive Council, certain approvals have been given, some muddle up have been noted in the Gazette that was issued where issues were smuggled in. The licensing regulation of customs was smuggled into the Act. The good news is the sitting in Dubai where the Council sat and agreed to knock out that portion. But somebody smuggled it in and you ask him, he denied it. How did it got there?”
However, in a swift reaction, the Vice Chairman of the CRFFN Governing Council, Chief Henry Njoku admitted that the Council was indebted to the Rockview Hotels but was quick to add that the debt was incurred before the inception of the present Governing Council.
He said,” You know we came in when the budget has already been submitted to the National Assembly and the budget was just passed and if anybody is talking that there is no fund, every other sector that is the way it is, until they release the budget. If anybody expects that we should be buoyant and start paying bills, the person will be getting it wrong. For now we are making use of our personal funds. As we are here now, I didn’t pay anybody for the meeting, everything we are doing; we are doing it from our pockets.
“So, if somebody is saying that, like Aniebonam is talking about Rockview Hotel, he just told me about it two weeks ago, so, I have not even seen him but if he is saying that there is no fund, well, we came in towards the end of the year and there is no fund yet until they start implementing the budget. So, you won’t blame anybody”.
Njoku however assured that a town hall meeting with the freight forwarders would soon take place saying “those things will come because I have gotten most of the thing we need and then town hall meeting will come soon. We are already planning it, that is why we are meeting. We went to associations, we went round when we came onboard and we are going to have a town hall meeting soon. There are things we are waiting for to make sure that we get it done.”
He continued, “Before like I said, the agents, when they finish a job, there is nothing for them but we have gotten some certain level of things that the agents will get some certain commission out of their job from the federal government and we are packaging those documents to be ready so that when we come to town hall, we will let them know. So, it has not been an easy job but we are doing it.
“We‘ve started by recruiting a Registrar and after that, we have worked too by getting approval from the Federal Executive Council for the collection of POF. So, we are putting machinery in place for it to work. We are going to expand what we are doing now because we have consultative forum which we are hoping to expand more as we do the town hall meeting. The committee in charge of that just held a meeting, we intend to see all the Presidents of the associations, incorporate them and then we are good to go.”
Njoku who is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) denied any knowledge of some items being smuggled into the gazette as approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) noting that “as we came, those things have already been there, nobody has touched it, and nobody will even touch it. Whoever is alleging can be able to go and prove that. For me, there is nothing at all.”
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