Olanrewaju to CRFFN: Freight forwarders expect notice of election, not mandatory qualification


The immediate past Governing Council Chairman of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Aare Hakeem Olanrewaju has called on the Management of the Council to concern itself more on rolling out notice of election into the governing Council and electoral guidelines therein rather than issuing a notice for all members to register themselves properly by possessing the mandatory qualifications.

Olanrewaju who gave this counsel in a press release he issued in Lagos yesterday stated that the notice for all members to register themselves properly by possessing the mandatory qualifications as currently being circulated was what was expected of the governing council and management to have kick started since 2018.

He argued that turning around to issue such professional notic, at this crucial time when the tenure of the third governing council had elapsed since July, 2020 leaves much to be desired.

According to him, “If professional administrative focus is anything to go by, the right notice to be reel out to the professionals is notice of election into the governing council and the electoral guidelines therein. One may begin to consider this administrative notice on the grounds of legitimacy and viewed from the point of view of a clandestine move to coaxing the practitioners while the real issue is left unattended to.

“You recall that it was reported in the news, where the governing council was accused of plotting to extend their tenure by two additional years. To this moment, there is no official refutal to this report. One obvious fact that must be stated and put straight, is that the Act 16, 2007 is an extant laws of the Federation, as such pending the conclusion of the amendment process presently ongoing at the National Assembly, relevant provisions are extant. Most importantly, the Council remains a professional council with a clear legislative intents and purposes. Therefore, the governing council members are hereby encouraged not to truncate nor make mockery of its two years statutory democratic elective succession as provided in the Act for mere parochialism.”

He recalled that it had been a subject of professional discussion at different fora, whether or not the CRFFN was supposed to be an agency of the government or an independent self-sustaining professional regulatory council.

“While answers proffered on the above technical questions, of course such answers are still seen and treated as an opinions expressed, however, with the unfolding practicable administrative concerns, there seems to be an entirely implementation interplay in the realm of application, wherein it could  be said that, the CRFFN could be presently perceived as a non-governmental (independent) council but due to legislative shortcomings it is presently being administered as a quasi-governmental (non-full independent) and not even as a full agency of the government, because government interests seems to begin and end in revenue generation quests (which is a limitation), other than the legislative intendments of the Acts, which is to enthrone, strengthen and sustain professionalism in the freight forwarding profession in Nigeria in line with the enshrined provisions which are primarily for professional skills acquisitions and development.

“One can vividly say or state here, that, pursuance to the actualisation of her interests, the government through the supervisory ministry, subtly changed the narrative, as the practitioners were astonished and helpless when in 2018, during the Governing Council constituting process; as provided, to conduct an election to elect the Governing Council Chairman and Vice, which was the provisional obligations and professional standards set by the first and second Governing Council, but unfortunately, before our own eyes the enabling provisions was sacked for government core interests, as the Minister solely decided on who will be the Governing Council Chairman. This singular action, presents an arrangement that’ portrayed the tendency for elective power shifts and flow from legally elected professionals to unduly (imposed) and appointed quangos which the practitioners derisively dubbed as ” Quangocracy”.  

“As submitted during a professional discourse on how to chat a new order for the survival of the freight forwarders in Nigeria, it was noted that, ‘From the period the Act 16, 2007 came into the industry limelight to date, the practitioners’ mouths remain widely open on one side, pondering to the sudden realisation that, by deeds or body language, their regulatory council is merely “a quasi-non-governmental council created and funded by the government and therefore solely in-charge for its yearly budgetary income and expenditures and on the other side grappling with the emerging developments in the profession. One of such development being the dubbed clandestine moves (lobbying) for a legislative amendment through the national assembly to the effect that, ‘the government shall appoint the Registrar and Chairman of the Council’, as experimented and witnessed in the 2018 Governing Council constituting process’.

“The discourse further noted that, ‘the funniest aspects of this emerging development, being the push by the incumbent governing council members for a tenure elongation beginning with them. This move triggered ill feelings amongst the practitioners, especially the unaccredited freight forwarding associations who now accuses the accredited associations as represented in the governing council of ‘Social Darwinism’ ( suggesting the tactical eliminating process of the weak associations by the privilege stronger associations), an act which is inconsistent with the provisions of the enabling Act 16, 2007. To them as taunted, this is not just a deliberate professional exclusion but a denial of their constitutional rights”, he said.

Olanrewaju observed that one may not be wrong to adduce that the regulatory council presently was seemingly grappling and thriving in a mix atmosphere of spoil system with no sorry to the captioned question “Quangos in its Administrations”.

He continued, “As it stands, four issues are on the front burner ranging from:

  1. The noticeable inadequate administrative cohesion between the Governing Council and the Management Team. A true reflection of this is pronounced where standing and Ad-hoc committees are created as enshrined in the enabling regulation but were not funded due to a general paucity of funds. But internal misgivings arose where and when some of the Governing Council members now lately raises an eyebrow or queries the performance and just administration of the yearly budgetary allocations.
  2. The too much ado about the commencement and collection of the Professionals Operating Fees – POF. With a close eye on the ball and an ear on the ground within the industry come the murmuring, heightened discordant voices by extension subtle resistance by the practitioners, whose mouths are full with several unanswered questions. Many have strategized themselves into subgroups elements, waiting, monitoring the effective collection of the POF with a sole aim to be in possession of evidence to the effect, to fast track and support their intents to challenge its application before a court of competent jurisdiction; this in another phrase is called “spoiling for a fight”.
  3. Following the endless operational abuses, high-handedness and bottlenecks bedeviling the port industry presently, with the practitioners helplessly running from pillars to posts seeking for regulatory interventions which appears too far from their yearnings and reach, better still, that invariably narrowing their professional leadership and regulatory expectations and trust. As this scenario snowball into unbearable and ugly dimensions, the leadership of the accredited freight forwarding associations afraid of imminent or possible reprisal attacks or direct assaults and insults on them, without further notice or consultations with the regulatory council resorts to self-help as a remedial to the ailing operational challenges, hence, the present multiple setting up of tasks forces / compliance teams.
  4. The unwillingness and non-payment of the annual subscription fees and other professional related fees by the freight forwarders. This is a big administrative challenge, because as what it takes to keep both the professionals and profession promptly afloat in the industry and relevant amongst the comity of global freight forwarding nations is a prompt administrative funding in all ramifications.

“The big question posed by some regulatory authority officials, ‘When an acclaimed professional fails to pay yearly professional practicing fees, etc., is such an individual worthy to ascribe to as being a professional or practitioner? It means we have too many non-professionals amongst the freight forwarding sub-sector of the maritime industry. That’s too bad’.

“While this has been expressed, I must state clearly, that, the present Council placed more emphasis on POF collection as an only options to reciprocate and correspondingly account for its yearly budgetary allocations, thereby closing its eyes from exploring other sources of professional revenue available in the industry. It has been said, we shall face the consequences of inflows of easy money to organization, when the source of easy flows is tightened up.”

He therefore begged the federal government, for professional sustainability and posterity sake to grant the forwarders their professional independent and let the forwarders alone if the roles and interests of the government would derail or defeat the intendments of the Act 16, 2007.

“On this premise, I beg to pause here, by pleading with the management of the Council to follow with diligence its duty to evolve a purposeful mandatory qualifications training in earnest. Withdraw the present notice issued, rather issue a notice in relation seeking compliance to training and retraining programs in this regards. Take adequate care not to throw the industry into undue confusion. Do strategic consultation and communicate adequately, you are dealing with professional and not civil servants. Stay away from any form of political permutations. Advise the Minister alright and set up mercenaries for immediate elections. Avoid a repeat of what transpired in 2012 of the last Council.

“Finally, remember the Freight Forwarders has right to investigate and asks questions as to what’s happening in and around its regulatory council, yesterday, today, tomorrow and tomorrow”, he concluded.

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