… Say Forum not opposed to independent contestants
In line with the directive of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, the five freight forwarding associations accredited by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has met in Lagos where they took position on the forthcoming election of the freight forwarders into the Governing Board of CRFFN.
Associations in attendance during the meeting were; the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) and the Nigerian Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC).
Although the President and Secretary of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) were not present at the meeting, the immediate past President of the association, Dr. Frank Ukor said he was at the meeting in his capacity as the founder of AREFFN.
Speaking to the journalists on the outcome of the meeting part of which was held behind closed doors, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Dr. Rafiu Ladipo disclosed that “We considered everything that was on the table and everybody that came for this meeting agreed that we still stand by the 6:6:1:1:1 arrangement.”
Ladipo, however, maintained that “We are not opposed or averse to any individual who wants to contest for this election, everybody is free to contest the election. We are not equally opposed to the younger ones coming up but these five leaders must provide leadership that will move the freight forwarding business forward and as such, we still stand by the arrangement 6:6:1:1:1.”
While recalling that they were given two weeks to report back to the Ministry, he added that “Now that a decision has been taken again this afternoon, we are going to make our communiqué ready and the communiqué will get to the Ministry between now and Wednesday.”
Asked what they would do if the Ministry chose not to go by their arrangement and throw the contest open, he said, “The contest is open, I don’t know why we are saying it is not open. The Ministry through the CRFFN said that there must be a consultative forum and what is the consultative forum? We are talking about the five accredited associations and here we have the five. So, if the Ministry takes any decision, we are not going to say no but definitely, we will still stand by our decision.”
Also speaking, the President General, Nigerian Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), Prince Adeyinka Bakare revealed that invitation for the meeting was extended to the “so-called independent candidates”, adding that they were surprised that they did not honour the invitation.
He, however, said, “But even in their presence or their absence, what we concluded will still be our conclusion and we believe that no matter what, I challenge any of them who have never benefited from any association before to come forward and tell us if what made them is not association. But if the association is what made them, I don’t see any independent candidate the way they are putting it.”
He continued, “The association may not favour me today; that will not make me not to be a loyal member of the association. So, I think it will be nice if they come back home, it might not be their turn today, it might be their turn tomorrow. So, let them look at it, like I said, let them come forward if they have not reaped the benefit of any of the five associations before.”
On the decision to cede one slot each to the other three accredited associations, he replied, “The most important thing is the number and what is important here is that we are represented and a voice in the association is being heard. That is what matters most. I am not even looking at associations anymore, the fifteen slots belong to the freight forwarding industry and that is what matters here not where I am coming from.
“In fact, when we get to the Council, we will make it clear that no association is discussed, what is discussed here is freight forwarding business and that is what the forum is all about.”
Speaking on the protest put forward by the leadership of AREFFN during the meeting with the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation in Lagos a forth night ago, former President of AREFFN, Dr. Frank Ukor stated, “I came in as the founder of AREFFN, I heard what happened at that meeting and I came in here now to say that it was a mistake that they made to have taken that stand and I stand here as the founder of AREFFN to say that I am going ahead with all the associations. That the five associations have agreed but I did say that after this one, next one, Obi has become a man.”
On insistence by the freight forwarders in the eastern zone that the occupants of the five slots allotted to the zone by the Act establishing the CRFFN must be practitioners resident in the zone, the National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike said, “We are now talking as freight forwarders consultative forum which is enshrined in the Act of CRFFN. I am standing here as the representative of ANLCA just like any other person here and let me tell you, we are going into this election with fifteen freight forwarders as one body because if you look at it critically, we want them to go and represent the freight forwarders and champion our problems. We have numerous problems in the port. So, it is not the CRFFN election that is the major issue, we are going beyond that.
“If for example, the eastern zone is saying anything, like in ANLCA where I am President, we have zones, we have eastern zone, we have western zone and we have northern zone. So, if such thing comes up, probably, it is not communicated to the Presidency of ANLCA, that is me, it is not acceptable until we discuss it and agree to that totally. I have not heard it, I have not seen it on my table and I don’t think it is true.
When reminded that their agitation was right as it was enshrined in the Act establishing the Council, he said, “Remember, I am the pioneer Chairman of the CRFFN, I am very conversant with the Act. The Act said five from the eastern zone, five from the western zone and five from airport and land borders and NAGAFF, ANLCA and other associations are in the whole zones. So, a single zone will not come and tell us, if for example, they want election there, we go there, we do the election in the zone. In every strata of the country, my association is there.
“But let me say this, if the election guideline provides for that, we will do that. The important thing is that we are getting the 6:6:1:1:1 required of the five associations as one block to go and represent the freight forwarders as freight forwarders consultative forum. We don’t want any division anymore.
“Let me say this, it is high time we discontinue talking about ANLCA, NAGAFF, AREFFN, NAFFAC, National Council of Managing Director, we need to put our heads together, just exactly what we are doing now to make sure that we solve the problems of our members who actually elected us into various positions because if you look at what is going on in the airports, seaports and border posts, you will agree with me that they need our support to do their job as a matter of urgency. So, the issue of division in freight forwarding is now a thing of the past.”
On the issue of the venue for the election, they unanimously echoed that “That is what the electoral committee will let us know later.”
It will be recalled that following the inability of the freight forwarders to agree on the modality for the election of freight forwarders into the Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) in a meeting with the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport in Lagos two weeks ago, the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani urged the freight forwarders to go back and have discussions among themselves on the modality for the conduct of the election and gave them two weeks to get back to the Ministry.
The two weeks ultimatum ends tomorrow, Wednesday, October 13, 2021.
Photo 1: (L-R): Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA); Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, Founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and Iju Tony Nwabunike, National President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) during the meeting of the five accredited Freight Forwarding Associations in Lagos yesterday.
Photo 2: (L-R): Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA); Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, Founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF); Prince Adeyinka Bakare, President General, Nigerian Association of Air freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) and Iju Tony Nwabunike, National President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) after the meeting of the five accredited Freight Forwarding Associations in Lagos yesterday.
Photo 3: (L-R): Prince Adeyinka Bakare, President General, Nigerian Association of Air freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC); Dr. Kayode Farinto, National Vice President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and Hajia Bola Muse, National Financial Secretary, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) during the meeting of the five accredited Freight Forwarding Associations in Lagos yesterday.
Photo 4: Participants during the meeting of the five accredited Freight Forwarding Associations in Lagos yesterday.
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