Hassan Bello eulogises Aniebonam, Tony Iju, others, says “I feel honoured to be their friend”


The immediate past Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello has eulogized the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam describing him as somebody he had close magnetic involvement with during his time at the Shippers’ Council.

Bello who made this disclosure at an event in Lagos recently said, “Many of you may not know actually and I am happy he has not said it, the relationship between myself and the founder of NAGAFF. When it was six months for me to retire, I called him and said it is time for me to go and he said what do you mean going? When? I said, well, it is about, because if I tell him it is six months, he will start his maneuvering, so I said I have about nine months to go.

“And when I told him by next week, I will disengage from the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, he literally told me that there must be a reception even though, I was to be honest not very enthusiastic about receptions. I think everything has to be done modest but I am happy I never regret this. This is one of my proudest moments in the industry.”

Speaking about his encounter with Dr. Aniebonam during the formative days of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), he said, “Dr. Aniebonam is somebody we have close magnetic involvement even when the CRFFN was being formed because the directive was have the freight forwarders organized but by themselves and I told all of them that it is not for Shippers’ Council to organize the freight forwarders, it is for the freight forwarders to organize themselves and then instruct the Shippers’ Council to put it in writing in the form of a law.

“This we were able to do despite the fact that the law had some difficulties in operation but we still have a law and through that, I began to see his (Aniebonam’s) quality, his passion for the industry and before, the freight forwarders were regarded as some noisy miscreants but you will agree with me that that threshold has been passed and we look at freight forwarders as critical partners as far as the maritime sector is concerned.

“I am very happy to have worked with almost all of them. I feel honoured to be their friend because it took a lot of work for us to be, it is not that we agree often, sometimes, we disagree but the crucial thing about the Shippers’ Council is that we made the Shippers’ Council to be the servant and we made the shippers and freight forwarders to be the masters because we are accountable. Gone are the days when people have the airs of being the MD/CEOs because you are actually the servant, you are set up to serve the people and bring them in and take care of their problems.

“Dr. Farinto and many others have made points of Covid-19 and that is how I see the value of that and unknown to them, even now, we had so much consultation with Dr. Aniebonam and the leadership of ANLCA, Tony Iju and also the Council of Managing Directors. We had so many discussions with them and it is their ideas that we come to materialize every day that we go out and without them, we couldn’t have. So, I had Farinto and I had Increase and one or two other freight forwarders and every day, we go out to the terminals to see that goods are released.”

He further stated that he also had the cooperation of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) even as he recalled that there was, at least, for that (Covid-19) period, abridgement of processes in the release of cargo by the service adding that it was at that time that they all realized that it was essential that the ports were digitalize.

“Our ports cannot and should not be manual, our ports should be digital. We should have online transactions, we should not go to the port all the time to congest the ports and breed corruption because physical contact necessarily will mean corruption. Where payments were not electronic, that means compromise and I think we were able to push that agenda which I am very proud. It is going to that stage now, freight forwarders do their transactions online and they should lead the way so that terminals, shipping companies, banks and all other related agencies should operate online. If we did that, that means we have simplified the processes; that means we have shortened the tedious process.

“We are still waiting for scanners so that we don’t have to do one hundred per cent physical examination and it is apt that Shippers’ Council was appointed to look at the manuals as the lead agency and I think they are doing quite a lot.

“I am happy that there is a vast relationship between the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the critical stakeholders. No agency can succeed without stakeholders, it is not possible and stakeholders’ relationship must be real and sincere so that we know what to get as mutual. When we are negotiating with shipping companies, we call the shippers, we call the freight forwarders and say, you be the vanguard of our negotiation and there is still that committee working as far as tariff is concerned and even the manual that we are implementing, there is a bulk of support system by both the freight forwarders and they are working with the Shippers’ Council”, he said.

Photo: Immediate past Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello.

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