By DAPO OLAWUNI
A maritime stakeholder and former member of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum, Mr Chidi Anthony Opara has said that the forum as presently constituted is not in line with the Act of the CRFFN.
The Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum (FFCF) açcording to him, is the think tank of the CRFFN established by a regulation to primarily resolve issues handed over to it by the CRFFN Governing Council.
Recall that the five freight forwarding associations in the sector had gathered in Apapa on Monday under the aegis of the FFCF and agreed that the coming elections into the Governing Board of CRFFN should not be conducted, rather, the positions should be shared among them based on 22.214.171.124.1 formula.
The associations responsible for this decision are; Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA); National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMSLCA) Association of Registered Freight Forwarding of Nigeria (AREFFN) and the National Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Cargo Consolidators (NAFFAC)
But in a statement sent to our correspondent, Mr Opara, argued that any decisions taken by the forum would not be effective until ratified by the Governing Council.
According to him, the supposed FFCF as presently being peddled is not properly constituted and any decision they had taken at the supposed meeting should be jettisoned.
Buttressing his point, he said “The Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum is made up of the Vice-chairman of the Governing Council, who is statutorily the Chairman of the forum”
“Other members are the Presidents and National Secretaries of CRFFN accredited freight forwarding associations, representatives of the CRFFN management and any other persons the Governing Council may deem fit to nominate into the forum.
“The forum is statutorily required to elect a secretary from the membership.
“Like in every other organizations in any civilized clime, the Secretary of the forum issues meetings notices on the instruction of the chairman.
“Any decisions taken in such meetings must have to be channeled to the Governing Council for ratification for such decisions to be effective.
“For the avoidance of doubts, any communique, etc, issued to the public and purported to represent the decision of the forum, not signed by the chairman and secretary of the forum, is of no effect and should be disregarded” he said
However in a communicae issued at the end of the meeting of the five associations in Lagos on Monday, it was argued that “All Federatlon of Freight Forwarders Associations hereby agreed and reafirmed our position in accordance with the CRFFN Act Part 1, Section 5 (1 & 2) “Control of Councul by the Minister”: Which implies that the Minister can only relate to a general character which is the Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum (FFCF) In this subject matter; constituted by all the Accredited Associations of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria but NOT TO ANY INDIVIDUAL PERSON.
“Furthermore, with reference to Section 5 (2): the Minister must have regard for the Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum which is the general character in this subject matter”
“Moreover, as entrenched in the CRFFN Regulation (Federal Republic of ngeria Officual Gazette) No. 48, Volume 97 (SJ. No. 35 of 2010, 8 813) of 9″1 July, 2010. Section 1 to 10 confurmed the establushment and empowered the Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum (FFCF) to act and speak with one voice on behalf of all freight fomarders in Nigeria. Section 8 (1) stated that “The Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum (FFCF) is charged with the responsnbilmes of resolving all matters affecting freight forwarding In Nigeria”.
“Section 8 (2) stated that “The FFCF shall make recommendations and standardization of freight forwarding practice, discipline, uniform charges and any matter as referred to It by both the CRFFN and accredited associations”. (a) The enhancement of integrity of freight forwarding practice in Nigeria. (b) The recommendations of the FFCF shall be forwarded to the Council for consideration or otherwise”
The communicae was signed by ANLCA President, Tony Iju Nwabunike, Founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, founder of National Council, Dr Rafiu Ladipo, Founder of AREFFN, Dr Frank Ukor and President of AREFFN, Yinka Bakare.
Meanwhile, stakeholders have raised eyebrow at the communicae and the fact that the Presidents of these associations are not in agreement with the 126.96.36.199.1 being foistered on them by purported Founders of the association.
Note that out of the five signatures, only two belongs to associations Presidents, while the remaining three are from founders who are not in charge of day to day administration of the associations.
According to one of the stakeholders, the Founders have relegated their association Presidents to the back seat, all in the bid to clinch positions on the CRFFN, and for the ultimate goal of collecting the controversial Practitioners Operating Fee (POF)
At a meeting with the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Transportation, Mrs Magdalene Ajani recently, our correspondent learnt that the AREFFN President had backed out of 188.8.131.52.1 sharing formula, saying that one slot alloted to the association was an insult.