By DAPO OLAWUNI
Former Vice Chairman of the governing board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Dr Sam Onyemelikwe has alleged that the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) was registered into the Council in a clandestine manner.
The registration of NAGAFF, according to him, encouraged the proliferation of associations, disorderliness and some operational problems which has become endemic in the freight forwarding sector.
In a long petition written to the Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, dated 11th October 2021, Dr Onyemelikwe who is National President of International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) charged the Minister that only corporate members and not individual members are qualified under the CRFFN Act to contest elections and vote in the coming elections.
Onyemelikwe boasted that as far as freight forwarding is concerned, IFFA, and not NAGAFF, has the highest number of practitioners under its membership.
While recounting how NAGAFF was registered into the CRFFN, the IFFA President stated that “As the Vice Chairman of the governing board of the Council, I shared a view that the CRFFN should register only one association in each of the departments of freight forwarding, including Customs brokerage, haulage, warehousing, courier services, etcetera”
“We started with the registration of the Association for operators involved in Customs brokerage; and we set standards that would encourage healthy operations and global best practice; various Associations applied; but based on the understanding we had that only one association would be registered to cover the operators in Customs brokerage, IFFA made a sacrifice and didn’t apply”
“At the end of thorough verifications and assessment by the then registration committee headed by a very experienced and knowledgeable practitioner, Chief Peter Oge Obih, only ANLCA qualified and emerged as the only registered Association for operators in Customs brokerage”
“We were to continue with other departments of freight forwarding, which would have accommodated other existing Associations, but the process was truncated when NAGAFF was registered from the back door without the knowledge of the chairman of the registrations committee”
“It was this that destabilized the structure that we had conceived that would have solve the problems of Association proliferation, disorderliness and some operational problems that have become endemic in the industry.
“It would be recalled that non-resolution of the matter locally caused IFFA to petition FIATA and various international bodies; which resulted in blacklisting of CRFFN and placing travel ban to Nigeria.
“The matter was eventually resolved with a memorandum of understanding (MOU), before IFFA recalled its letter and CRFFN was reinstated by FIATA.
“The MOU, among other items, stated that all other associations that applied alongside NAGAFF for the Customs brokerage category would be registered by the CRFFN. It was also agreed in the MOU that in the future round of registration that IFFA would also be registered once it applies.
“This was why more Associations were registered; meanwhile, CRFFN was yet to comply with the part of the agreement that IFFA will be registered once it applies.
“IFFA has the numerical strength and spread in membership. The only Association that can stand side by side with IFFA in the industry is ANLCA, which is the oldest Association in the industry” he stated
Dr Onyemelikwe argued that IFFA’s capacity had been demonstrated over time, especially during election into the first Council that was conducted into CRFFN.
He said IFFA got three out of the eight members elected into the governing board of the Council; adding that this was the highest number when compared to other Associations’ membership to that governing board.
“It is important to note that all these mushroom, one-man Associations also contested in that election and lost convincingly.
“ANLCA won two seats, National Association of Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC) won a seat and the remaining two seats were won by non-association members.
“IFFA assures the Minister that we will throw our weight to support the Ministry of Transportation to deliver a credible, well conducted, free and fair election, in line with global best practice and the CRFFN Act.
“We are duty-bound to do this for our industry and for the profession; but if the contrary is done by violating the CRFFN Act, we shall not fail to explore all legal means to ensure that we save our regulatory body from continuing wallowing without direction or focus” he threatened