Increase Uche, Farinto, Daura Awogbemi, Ekemezie, Chi Ezeh return to CRFFN Governing Council


… As Bakare, Ozo Chukwurah, others failed to clinch a seat

It was a mixture of celebration and mourning yesterday in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja as winners and losers emerged in the election of freight forwarders into the Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).

A former President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Increase Uche was among those who secured a ticket to return to the Governing Council for the second term.

Others are: Sir Henry Njoku, the immediate past Vice Chairman of the CRFFN Governing Council, Princess Chi Ezeh, Mr. Timothy Awogbemi, National Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, National President, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders Nigeria (AREFFN), Alhaji Bala Daura and Mr. Ifeanyi Ekemezie.

The duo of the President General of the Nigeria Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), Prince Adeyinka Bakare and Chief Ozo Chukwurah failed in their bid to return to the Governing Council.

About ten candidates procured nomination forms to contest the election in the Western Ports but one of them, Dr. Eugene Nweke withdrew on the eve of the election citing some irregularities in the run up to the election. Meanwhile, four candidates procured nomination forms from the Western Zone to contest for seats to represent the freight forwarders operating in the Airport/land borders.

The election which began at about 12:15pm in Lagos on Wednesday saw a large turn out of voters who turned in to elect their choice candidates.

Announcing the results of the election in the Western Ports, the Chairman of the Election Committee, Mr. Awwal D. Suleiman reiterated that the election was conducted in three centres namely: Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja simultaneously even as he explained that “I, in my position as the Chairman, I oversee the election conducted here in Lagos centre for the Western Ports and for Airport and Land Borders and the election was conducted successfully.

“In my capacity as the overall Chairman of the election committee, I hereby announce the result of the election as cast. For the Western Ports, a total of nine people contested. They were ten initially but one had withdrawn before the election and the result is as follows; number of voters – 756; number of invalid votes – 25; number of ballots cast – 731 and total number of votes cast – 756.

“The result is as follows for the candidates: Tochukwu Ezisi – 110; Farinto Collins Kayode – 72; Metu Austine Ejike – 63; Umeadi Emmanuel Azubuike – 29; Ibrahim Tanko – 179; Ekemezie Ifeanyi Joseph – 72; Ndubuisi Uzoegbo – 147; Ozo Chukwurah – 55 and Festus Ukwu – 4.

“The five candidates that were able to scale through were elected and hereby returned as the representatives of the Western Ports: Ibrahim Tanko who scored 179 votes, Ndubuisi Uzoegbo – 147, Tochukwu Ezisi – 110, Farinto Collins Kayode – 72 and Ifeanyi Ekemezie – 72.”

Announcing the results of election for the representatives of the Airport/land borders, he said, “For the Airport/land borders, a total of 275 votes were cast in the Lagos centre; number of invalid votes – nil; number of valid votes – 275 and total number of votes cast – 275.

“For the Lagos centre, the following candidates scored the following votes: Awogbemi Timothy – 145; Bakare Adeyinka – 9 votes; Barr. Henry O. Orarotimi – 1 vote and Engr. Chukwunonso Ejikeme – 120 votes.

“Now, let me announce the candidates that emerged nationwide for Airport and Land Borders because we calculated those in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja and come up with the following winners, five of them: Princess Chi Ezeh – 224 votes; Awogbemi Timothy – 145 votes; Increase Uche – 121 votes; Engr. Chukwunonso Ejikeme – 120 votes and Muftau Yau with 91 votes.

“So, these are the people that will represent Airport and Land Borders nationwide. They are hereby returned as freight forwarders’ representatives in the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria as a result of the election conducted in the three centres: Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja. These people were returned as elected.”

Speaking on the outcome of the election, Suleiman observed that the election had been conducted peacefully in accordance with the regulations as provided adding that the election went well as it was conducted peacefully without any pushing and without any issue.

“My assessment of the conduct of the election is free and fair. The only thing is that the freight forwarders did not conduct themselves in a very orderly manner and I think this is a lesson for the future elections. They should try to organize themselves so that they will be seen as responsible people throughout the country”, he said.

While admitting that the election committee was very much overwhelmed by the exercise, he, however, pointed out that there’s been serious sensitization noting that the notice the committee had pushed out regarding the election received acceptance by the freight forwarders translating to massive turn out of freight forwarders for the election.

He maintained that contrary to insinuations in some quarters, the guidelines for the election were published in the newspapers two weeks before the election day saying, “our expectation was that the contestants and their likely voters will read that and acquaint themselves with the procedures for conducting the election.”

When pressed further, he added, “But it’s there. If you check the newspapers, they are there. The CRFFN and the leaders of the associations know, maybe they did not mobilize their members adequately but we issued notice for the guidelines.”

Also speaking, the Returning Officer for the election in the Western Ports, Dr. Alban Igwe stated that the election was a bit rough but was eventually delivered.

He said, “There was no fighting, there was no casualty, it’s the normal push me, I push you, that’s a bit rough, isn’t it? Nobody had injury, so, it’s a bit rough.”

Speaking on the challenges of organizing the election, Igwe who is also the Director, Education and Training, CRFFN said, “Our challenges were that we are operating a digital system where we need to first verify that somebody who is coming to vote is already in the register because if your name is not in the register, you are not a freight forwarder.

“Also, in addition to that, we have a criteria that if you are a contestant, you must have been a freight forwarder for at least five years, you must be up to date financially and it appeared that some people hurried their registration particularly for the voters who are supposed to have been two years in the industry. It doesn’t appear that that was followed strictly because the criteria did not spell out the duration of years, it only said you have to have two years annual subscription. That provides a technical challenge because if you pay your annual subscription in December and pay another one in January, technically, that sounds like two years but it’s not two years in the actual sense of it.

“I think that one of the challenges we had was that we had limited time for accreditation. It was two days, it was a whole lot of stress for all of us; the voters and those who conducted the election. Secondly, a venue like this was congested. When we started inside there, too many people came and it was a crowded place, it didn’t give us room for a lot of decency.

“Of course, a lot of people are not disciplined to follow a simple rule of be in line. Actually, that was the greatest challenge in this election.”

Asked if he would have loved the management of CRFFN to have conducted this election, Igwe stated, “The nomenclature of those who handled it is not a sole determinant, it is the planning. Maybe, the same people doing it can plan again better having got the experience. This is the first time the Ministry is handling the election and so, it is expected that there should be room for improvement if they handle it again.

“Probably, there should be induction of the election officers and say this is what to expect and this is how to respond and so on. So, everybody who conducted the election from the Ministry, this is their first experience, so, you don’t expect 100 percent success.”

On whether he would have preferred the election to be conducted in line with the sharing formula initially proposed by the accredited associations, he replied, “There is no provision for 6:6:1:1:1 sharing formula in our guidelines for the election. That 6:6:1:1:1 was a suggestion of the associations and that, naturally, would not pass except there’s a policy backing it up.”

Meanwhile, our correspondent in Port-Harcourt reported that the five contestants also emerged victorious in the election conducted by the election committee for the practitioners in the Eastern Ports. They are: Henry Njoku 63 votes, Bala Rabiu Lawan 54 votes, Ishiaku Ifeanyi Goddy 52 votes, Kingsley Offor 44 votes and Christopher Okafor 26 votes.

With the election of the fifteen freight forwarders to represent the freight forwarding practitioners in the CRFFN Governing Council, the stage is set for the inauguration of the 32 man Board by the Honourable Minister of Transportation on yet to be announced date.

Photo 1: Joel Bulus, Deputy Director Labour, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Awwal D. Suleiman, Director, Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation and Chairman, CRFFN Election Committee and Dr. Alban Igwe, Director, Education and Training, CRFFN during the announcement of the election results in Lagos yesterday.

Photo 2: Mr. Ifeanyi Ekemezie, one if the contestants casting his vote during the election in Lagos yesterday.

Photo 3: Prince Adeyinka Bakare, President General, NAFFAC casting his vote during the election in Lagos yesterday.

Photo 4: Dr. Alban Igwe, Director Education and Training, CRFFN and Returning Officer for Western Ports and others sorting the votes after the election yesterday in Lagos.

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