… Says Minister acted in compromise and disregard to Act 16 of 2007
A former National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Eugene Nweke has faulted the alleged appointment of Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni and Chief Henry Njoku by the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to continue as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
Report has it that during the inauguration of the 4th Governing Council of CRFFN which held in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister walked into the conference room and announced that the duo of Tsanni and Njoku who presided over the 3rd Governing Council should continue while expecting some opposing views, but no one opposed his position, presupposing that they were all in support.
However, in an open letter to the Honourable Minister, Nweke observed that the Minister’s act amounted to deliberate compromise and willful disregard to the extant provisions of Act 16 2007, section 2 (a)(b) and section 3(5).
Quoting copiously the relevant Sections of Act 16 2007, he said, “Section 2, subsection 1 provided that ‘The Council shall consist of the following members from the Register of Freight Forwarders:
(a)one person who shall be elected by the Council from members of the Council as Chairman.
(b)one person who shall be elected by the Council from members of the Council as Vice-chairman.”
“In Section 3 with the subtitle: “The qualification and Tenure of Office – First Schedule – this supplementary provisions relating to the council provides in Section 3(5) of the first schedule, that, ‘Elections to the Council shall be held in such a manner as may be prescribed by rules made by the Council and until so prescribed, they shall be decided by a show of hands.’
“In Section 5 with the subtitle: ‘Control Of The Council By The Minister’, Subsection 1 states thus: ‘The Minister may give to the Council directions of a general character or relating generally to particular matters ( but not to any individual person or case) with regard to the exercise by the Council of its functions and it shall be the duty of the Council to comply with directions.’
“Subsection 2 states thus: Prior to giving a direction under subsection (1) of this section, the Minister shall serve a copy of proposed directions on the Council and shall afford the Council the opportunity of making a representations to him with respect to the directions and the Minister may after giving due consideration to any representation made to him thereof, issue the direction without modifications or with such modification as appear to him to be appropriate having regard to the representations.
“Honorable Minister, with due sense of decency in leadership, as reported in the above publication, your act, amounts to deliberate compromise and willful disregard to the extant provisions of Act 16 2007, section 2 (a)(b); and section 3(5).”
Nweke who is also the Managing Director of Virtues Marine Limited disclosed that he read through the Act 16 2007 but could not see any section or subsection that confered on the Minister such power to appoint Chairman and Vice Chairman for the regulatory governing council of the CRFFN.
“Base on the said report, by suggesting and using such phrase as “maintaining status quo” implies that, this is a continuation of the 3rd Governing Council endorsed by you for the completion of the controversial four years tenure which was canvassed for by 95% of returned members, invariably, the earlier court decision on tenure elongation is a mere formality, judging by your action.
“Honorable Minister, your open endorsement of a “status quo ante” cast a serious integrity and due process questions on the recent compromised election for 15 Freight Forwarders into the Governing Council under your purview.
“Honorable Minister, permit me to reiterate that there is no section or subsections that expressly confers on you the right to unilaterally inaugurate the governing Council neither have I seen any subtitle or heading with the phrase “Inauguration of the elected and appointed governing council members by the Honorable Minister.” Section 5 of Act 16 2007, merely confer on you control of the Council (better still ministerial direction of the Council) which are specifically captured and unambiguous.
“For the intent and purpose of this Act 16 2007, this is a professional regulatory governing council where professionals are elected to formulate regulations governing their professional practices, wherefore professionalism is the watch word. Therefore applying the same manner of inauguration observed for the Boards of the Nigeria Port Authority, Nigeria Shippers Council, etc., to me seems a misnomer and a blantant disregard to the professional essence. But the crux of the matter here is: Is the CRFFN an ideal agency of the government? This question continues to beg for an answer and the Ministry appears comfortable ignoring it”, he added.
He pointed out that the established rules by the first Governing Council as noted in Section 3 provided that it was the CRFFN management that would convene the meeting of the enlarged Governing Council members, having notified the Permanent Secretary ahead of time.
“At such meeting, the Registrar provides the Council members with a simplified guidelines for the election of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Governing Council. It is after the successful and concluded elections of the Chairman and Vice Chairman that the Registrar conveys to your office in writing through the Office of the Permanent Secretary the outcome of the Governing Council election and subsequntly invite you for a formal inauguration on the next day marking the first Executive Council Meeting of the CRFFN Governing Council.
“However, the choice to and not to uphold to the intents and provisions of Act 16 2007 is our prerogative rights and also in our power except that our consciences and posterity has a way around us when we make the wrong choices and unavoidably so.
“Honorable Minister, as a proud leader in the freight forwarding subsector of the maritime industry, I owe the larger practitioners and future forwarders the leadership responsibilities to right the wrongs at all times for posterity sake.
Freight forwarding is a globally regulated and noble profession guided by professional codes, politicizing its professional essence from its root with the pace and manner at which it is being compromised and politicized only points to a professional defeats and future misdirection.
“Honorable Minister, in the past eight years, you have done your best at advancing the fortunes of our profession and the larger maritime industry, it is left for us as professionals to evaluate your contributions toward the professional advancement of the freight forwarding profession in Nigeria within this 8 years of your headship.
“Finally, you have performed your last tasks to the freight forwarders as noted in our Act 16 2007, ‘… issue the direction without modifications or with such modification as appear to him to be appropriate having regard to the representations.’ We can only be grateful to God for making life a continuum and our simple prayer for you is, may posterity be fair to you”, he stated.
While congratulating the newly inaugurated Governing Council members, Dr. Nweke said, “Dear professional colleagues, expect no meaningful professional success by negotiating your political interests over and above your professional interests. Deliberate colluding with politicians to create professional insecurities, uncertainties and distrust has the capacity to destroy professional effectiveness and relevance.
“Be weary of those vices that push men of good will out of the profession. You are all representatives of the larger freight forwarders in Nigeria, you understand the myriads of our professional challenges and remember a representative who weld a good working team will be better prepared for the long pull ahead than the representative who turns his profession into a weed-growing jungle. If this freight forwarding constituency matters to you, then represent its practitioners promptly and effectively, especially redeeming its time and image. After two years, we shall come back to take stock of your stewardship to the practitioners. May God grant you all leadership wisdom and strength.”
Photo: Dr. Eugene Nweke, former National President, NAGAFF.
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