By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON) have written an open letter to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi over the risks involved in moving the venue of the forthcoming elections into the Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to Abuja.
CREFFPON is a group of Registered Freight Forwarders with the CRFFN.
In the open letter to the minister dated 7th of September, 2021, signed by Comrade Edwin Chukwudire Obi, Desk Administrative Officer of CREFFPON, the group argued that, looking at the level of insecurity across the country, it is not safe to move 95% of over 4000 registered freight forwarders from their operational base of Western and Eastern ports region to Abuja.
The group argued that “There are several ways of using the electoral guidelines to check mate crowd control, other than exposing majority of the Practitioners to numerous risks ranging from flight and travel risks, especially under serious national insecurity threats; extraordinary expenditures, health risks , etc”
“To say the least, the Freight Forwarders have not forgotten in a hurry their past experience with the first median election into the Governing Council, midwifed by the Nigeria Shippers Council in 2008 was not only rigged but witinessed the import of school children and streets urchin with luxurious buses into the election venue Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on the morning of the election day.
“The aftermath of that election created room for fundamental administrative misgivings, subsequently.
In view of this, we solicit for your attention and urgent intervention on this aspect of our concern”
CREFFPON also argued that the timing for collection and submission of nomination forms within 10 days, is too short and capable of scheming out interested and legible Practitioners from exercising their legitimate Professional rights to vote and be voted for.
The CREFFPON also knocked the electoral committee set up by the Minister for demanding a not refundable N500,000 as sale of forms.
According to her, “To say the least, it is a calculated rip off on the part of the committee. It is not ideally, to first collect a non refundable payment of #500,000:00 for an interested Practitioners, and upon accessing or collection of the electoral guidelines, having effected payment to discover that he or she is not eligible to contest.
“Such approach is crooked and can be termed as day light rip off of the freight forwarders.
“To be emphatic, this crooked approach has the tendercies to cast credibility question and possibly engender litigations arising therefrom.
“Honorable Minister, from the previous elections experiences, the rate of obtaining nomination form at high cost as #500,000:00 has always pose serious representation challenges on the part of elected freight forwarders, whom subsequently upon being sworn into the Governing Council, firstly thinks of how to recouped money spent during the election, thereby leading to poor representation of the Practitioners in the long run.
“Honorable Minister, sir, it is in the strength of these enumerated concerns that we write to solicite for your attention and urgent intervention, so as to save the integrity of our Profession cum Professional Election.
Other areas of attention noted by the group includes; non publication of the electoral guidelines accompanying the public notice recently issued by the transport ministry on the forthcoming elections.
“Honorable Minister, we observed that, the said public notice did not mention nor stress on the “display of the names of eligible registered freight forwarders or corporate firms to vote in the election as contains in the register of freight forwarders”, especially in the context of the limited time frame for the organization and execution of the election.
“Wherefore, as provided in the Act 16, 2007, the Register of the freight forwarders shall be published annually, which has not been effected.
“We hereby solicite for your urgent attention and intervention at ensuring that eligible voters lists is published early and sealed to serve for electioneering process and purposes.
“This way, Practitioners will be reassured of no iota of intent to smuggle in the usual manipulation of names as it were in the previous elections”