The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), yesterday, commenced the 2nd batch of the Executive Professional Diploma in Freight Forwarding and Supply Chain Management which it organizes in collaboration with the Institute of Maritime Studies, University of Lagos for experienced freight forwarding, logistics and supply chain executives.
The course which began on Monday 13th September, 2021 will run through to 18th September, 2021 with the following course features: Freight Forwarding in the 21st century, Digitalization in freight forwarding, Logistics models and transitions from 1st party to10th party logistics, Supply chain management, Transportation and handling of dangerous goods, Customs procedures as well as Incoterms and legal aspects of freight forwarding.
While about 25 candidates registered to attend the course, only 22 of them were in attendance at the day one of the course yesterday irrespective of the heavy downpour that greeted the city of Lagos.
Done with a breakfast of yam with sauce and fish and a cup of tea, the lecture commenced in earnest with the Director, Education and Training, CRFFN, Dr. Alban Igwe Esq. taking them on the topic, “Freight Forwarding in the 21st Century”, a lecture who left participants, many of who have practiced freight forwarding for an upwards of 27 to 31 years dazed and mesmerized.
Speaking to our correspondent on his experience with the lecture, the Chairman, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Cross River and Akwa-Ibom States chapter, Mr. Uche Ohaegbuchi described the course as “wonderful” adding that it was something they would have done earlier before now so that they would be able to train their members.
Ohaegbuchi noted that doing business in Nigeria was not easy but capacity building would help a lot to grow business especially when it had to do with freight forwarding and logistics chain management. “It is a wonderful development and in fact, we are just starting. Today is the first day and with what I have seen, I believe that subsequent lectures will be better than what we have had today”, he said.
Asked why he had to take the pain to travel all the way from Calabar to Lagos for this course, he said, “I didn’t want to miss this because my colleagues that attended the last one shared their experiences and I said I must be here. I have friends from Port-Harcourt that are supposed to here with us but when they started postponing and trying to lure me into waiting for these people to come to Port-Harcourt, I said no, this particular batch, I have already made arrangement, I have made payment, I need to be here.
“We need this kind of programme, we just heard about digitization, digitalization and digital transformation. So, you see, change is one thing that is constant. The business is no longer what we used to do when we started in early 90s. In fact, when he (lecturer) started asking questions about when we started the business, I started laughing because I started when we were using bill of entry from where they introduced Single Goods Declaration where you go and type SGD, you go to bank and buy bank draft, all those things have been phased out. Everything now is online, ICT has a lot to do and you need to refresh your mind and you also need to be in tune with the procedures that are applied per day.”
On whether he learnt new things from the lecture of the day, the ANLCA Chairman said, “I have, even today, I have learnt some things and I believe that between now and Saturday, I should be able to learn more.”
Speaking on the amount paid to obtain the course, he further said, “It worth it, there are people that criticized it asking why they should pay this kind of amount and that is why it was organized for executives. If I want to pay over N100,000 for my staff in the office to attend this kind of programme, he is going to attend it for one year. It is an intensive and crashed programme and those that are taking on the lectures too are engaged, you know, it is time consuming. That is what you are paying for. You are paying for something that would have taken you one year to get but it has been compressed for one week.”
Reacting on insinuations in some quarters that experienced executives in the industry no longer need this course as they had garnered a lot of experience in the field, Ohaegbuchi who had practiced freight forwarding for 27 years had this to say, “Those of us that have attended will go and tell them what we have been able to gain and what they stand to gain if they attend this programme. In fact, when I go back to Calabar now, I know the people that I will talk to. In fact, I need to lobby them to attend this particular programme.”
He, however, stated that procuring a UNILAG certificate was not the area he was looking at as others may desire adding that he had gathered a lot of those certificates saying “but what I do is that anything that has to do with my profession as a freight forwarder, I dive into it.”
“I am a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Shipping; I am a Chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. So, once it has to do with my profession, no matter the cost, I will be there. I am about registering for FIATA; he (lecturer) was talking about FIATA, that is the one I am angling to take now. I have not done it but this year, I decided I am going to it before December. So, once it has to do with my profession and it has to do with acquisition of knowledge, I will do it so that I can also impact on people because when you are a leader, you need to be versatile and you need to be ahead of the people you are leading”, he added.
On his part, Mr. Uzonna Iwu, who although has not practiced freight forwarding for a period of ten years but had to register for the course at the instance of his father who is the Managing Director of Golden Maritime and Shipping Agency in Port-Harcourt, he didn’t want to miss this opportunity because “the more you postpone something like this, you will keep on procrastinating and the world is not waiting for you.”
He said, “Actually, I don’t fall in this category but my dad who is the owner of the company falls into this category because he has been in the business for more than 30 years but he felt that a younger person like me gearing to take over in the future should come and learn some aspects of the business.
“There are things I haven’t come across in my years of practice that I have learnt here today. The lecturer simplifies everything to our understanding, there are some things I didn’t get to know about before I came here which I learnt and I know there will be more to come which I don’t know about which I am going to learn. Since it is about digitalization which I will not say we are lacking but we are going to improve upon what we already know. So, with what I am learning now, I am going to improve more by the time I go back to my base to upgrade my skill.”
To the young freight forwarders, “My advice to them is that they should not say that there is still time to do this; they should prepare to participate in this course because the world is not waiting for anybody. Digitalization of the business has taken place and people have to upgrade. I am not saying that you have to be on a fast pace but while taking things easy, you have to be well informed also and upgrade as early as possible.”
Also speaking, the Director, Education and Training, CRFFN, Dr. Alban Igwe expressed his delight over the enthusiasm showed by the freight forwarders in taking up the programme and updating their knowledge of their profession.
In his words, “I can see a number of people turning up not just here; Port-Harcourt people are calling for this course. So, the next course will be in Port-Harcourt actually from September 27th to October 2nd, 2021.”
He added that the course was robustly organized and populated to equip the freight forwarders in the 21st century so that they can practice and sustain their practice while urging those who are yet to register and participate in the course to do so in their own interest.