By DAPO OLAWUNI
Practicing freight forwarders in the Nigerian maritime space have condemned the fact that the sector was snubbed by President Muhammadu Buhari when he conferred national awards on some individuals recently, including foreigners
The freight forwarders under the aegis of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has expressed shock over the total exclusion of freight forwarders among recipients of the recent National Awards.
APFFLON argued that this snub by the President has shown that the immense contribution and input of freight forwarders to national economy is not appreciated.
Recall that Buhari on the 11th of October, 2022, honoured over 437 nominees with various categories of Awards in recognition of their contributions to the growth and development of the Country.
The event which was part of series of activities to mark Nigeria’s 62nd independence anniversary, did not include anyone from the freight forwarding subsector.
The national Honours, in order of importance were : Order of the Federal Republic, consisting of Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR), Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR), Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR).
Also, in the Order of the Niger, were Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger(GCON), Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON),and Member of the Order of the Niger(MON).
The GCFR and GCON are Customarily reserved and bestowed on former and present Presidents and Vice Presidents of Nigeria, including former military heads of state of Nigeria and Chiefs of General Staff.
The GCON is also Customarily bestowed on the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the President of the Nigerian Senate during their first year in office, while the CON is customarily bestowed on Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The 2022 list included politicians, public officers, security officials,diplomats, the academia, businessmen, traditional rulers, religious leaders and legal practitioners among others. 5 people were honoured with GCON; 54-CON,67-OFR, 64-OON,101-MFR, 75-MON while FRM was bestowed on 8 people.
Speaking through its National President, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, APFFLON said that the exclusion of freight forwarders among recipients of any of the categories of the National Honour is an attestation that the immense contribution of the subsector to the national economy is not appreciated by the government.
Ogunojemite further blamed the non recognition of freight forwarders on the infighting and lingering disunity amongst themselves especially the protracted crises rocking the boat of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents -ANLCA, the foremost association in the Ports industry.
According to APFFLON National President, ” that Nigerians and foreigners from different fields of endeavour were nominated for national awards and no single freight forwarder made the list means that our contributions to the economic development of our dear country is not appreciated, we have freight forwarders who have distinguished themselves as professionals and as worthy Nigerians, people like Prince Olayiwola Shittu, Chief Ernest Elochukwu, Aare Akeem Olanrewaju,Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, Chief Taiye Oyeniyi,Chief Tijani Tijako, Chief Henry Njoku, Chief Tony Iju Nwabunike to mention a few.”
” I think there is no better time for practitioners in the ports industry to build a platform that will foster unity than now, we need to chart a new course and in one voice, drive home our demands. If recipients of the national awards could be chosen from different fields why exclude the freight forwarding subsector, does it mean we don’t have even one person from the subsector that deserves National Honour, for me, it does not portray us in good light, but l strongly believe that the non inclusion of a single freight forwarder among the National Awards recipients does not in anyway erase the fact that the subsector is unarguably, one of the economic pillars of the Country.” Ogunojemite insisted.