By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as the National Assembly recently postponed a public hearing on proposed amendment of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Act, immediate past Vice Chairman of the Council, Dr Sam Chidinma Onyemelikwe has kicked against the amendment, saying that the current drivers of the Council do not have a deep knowledge of what the Council stands for.
In a statement signed by Dr. Onyemelikwe which was exclusively obtained by DAILY TREND NEWS, he argued that current efforts at amendment of the CRFFN Act or seeking interpretations of some sections of the Act are unnecessary; he said they are only ways to blame the failures of the drivers of the Act on the authors of the Act.
Onyemelikwe who is also the President of International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) said the CRFFN Act is unequivocally complete, robust and capable of sanitizing and optimizing freight forwarding operations to measure up to operations in advanced maritime nations.
According to him, it would be a great disservice to the freight forwarding industry, Nigerians and the nation as a country, if the original concept behind the CRFFN is severely altered.
Speaking, he said “The major problems on ground bother on wrong or faulty interpretations, as well as poor understanding of the Act by those who drive it, who are expected to know better”
“This misconception has created a disconnect in evolving an appropriate structure and strategy to run the CRFFN. In other words, the CRFFN needs to be redesigned and restructured in line with the provisions of the Act. This is primary to successful implementation of the Act.
“This means that what is faulty is the management structure of operations; the Act is not faulty and unless the faulty structure is redesigned and corrected, the management will find it difficult to fulfill the mandates of the Act irrespective of the enormous resources at its disposal” he said
Apart from the issue of the governing board making regulations that run contrary to the Act, the former CRFFN Vice Chairman condemned the last election into the Council which brought about the current board members.
He described the election which was largely dominated by members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) as a total sham.
“It was not clear what standards or guidelines were adopted in conducting that election. Was it based on association lines, maritime zones, on individual or corporate capacity? It was wrong for that sham of a process to be allowed in a Council of the stature of CRFFN”
“It is as a result of misconceptions like that and flagrant disregard of provisions of the Act that it has not met industry expectations; and that is why there is a vicious cycle of going for amendments, seeking interpretation and making regulations that sometimes are in opposition with provisions of the Act”
“It would be recalled that the CRFFN amendment bill during the 8th National Assembly was seeking to repeal the public, private partnership concept of the Act to transform the CRFFN into a full federal government agency”
“Analysis of the motive behind this school of thought reveals that it was pursued to position the CRFFN to continue to receive allocations and subventions from the federation account; when in actual sense, the CRFFN was designed not only for self-sustenance, but also to stimulate the economy for increased revenue to the federal government”
“The position of the Hon. Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi at that 8th Assembly public hearing on the unnecessary CRFFN amendment was commendable.
The Hon Minister remarked that government interference in operations is unproductive and that it is imperative to note that full government ownership and management of the agencies had inherent restrictions for third party funding, undue government interference, burdensome bureaucratic structures and over bloated workforce.”
“It is also important for policy makers to know that increasing government presence and involvement in operations of CRFFN will increasingly reduce its credibility in the eye of international professional bodies like FIATA”
“The fact is that the more drivers of CRFFN position it to become a new agency of the federal government, the more the body loses relevance; because, the transport sector is already over-bloated with several agencies that are either operating at cross-purposes and overlap or do not quite have work to do. ”
“Suffice it to state again that the CRFFN had not really been properly structured; therefore, there is need to go back to basics and set out a robust organizational format that would be streamlined and function as the Act was intended”
“As of today, the industry is being pressured to its elasticity limit and breaking point. It is, therefore important to stimulate and re-energize the sector for progress and development to play expected economic role in the diversification efforts of the federal government” he said