By Ray Ugochukwu
There are indications that the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) may have decided to support the new Chairman, Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, Col. Abubakar Tsanni (rtd).
This contradicts its initial position of seeking legal redress following what it termed the imposition of a Chairman by the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, on the Council.
NAGAFF Founder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, had in a statement, declared October 31, 2018 (the day the appointment was made) “a black day in freight forwarding profession in Nigeria.
According to him, it was “a day rule of law and constitutional provisions may have been thrown overboard by Hon. Minister of Transportation.
“Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the transport minister, may be a man with impunity and gut as he set aside CRFFN Act electoral provisions to appoint the Chairman of the Council’s Board 2018 in a mafia circumstance”.
However, the NAGAFF appears to have recanted on this stance following “the good aspect of Amaechi”, which it now perceives as being in tandem with the association’s stance on the status of the CRFFN.
In a recent chat with the media after a meeting with NAGAFF elected representatives in the Council, Dr. Aniebonam said they had decided to allow the sleeping dog lie in order to forge ahead.
Aniebonam said though the Minister had acted with impunity by imposing a Chairman on the Board as against the Act establishing the Council, he (Amaechi), had equally exhibited traits showing him being on the same page with NAGAFF that the body should be private sector-driven.
The NAGAFF founder, who doubles as the Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), disclosed that the Minister had at the inauguration made it clear that the Council should be private sector-driven, a position he assured he would canvass if he was to hand over to a successor.
For this move, Dr. Aniebonam said they now had a rethink, hence the conclusion to rest the matter while NAGAFF members would from the inside, begin to propagate the gospel of seamless freight forwarding as espoused through the association’s ideology.
Again, maintained the NAGAFF founder, the Minister’s impunity came as a result of the misplaced status of the Council as a government establishment and noted that the association was still in court challenging the misnomer.
He was therefore of the opinion that by the time the legal action was settled and the rightful status of the Council established, impunity of government officials would be out of the way; hence they had considered the earlier move to court action on imposition of Chairman unnecessary.
Several weeks after the CRFFN election, the minister, who was expected to have inaugurated the new board, stirred anxieties in the industry as speculation was rife that he was considering a cancelation of the exercise following his failure to flag off the board.
All the groups that participated in the election like the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), NAGAFF and the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), had expressed their disapproval on the development.
Dr. Aniebonam, who was the first to complain, was however ecstatic that the outcome of the election in which NAGAFF won six council seats would positively change the face of the industry through proactive board focus and participation in the port system.
He had noted that although NAGAFF had the chance to win the entire council seats, saying “but we have been magnanimous enough to concede six positions to ANLCA, because looking at the electioneering campaigns, we had what it takes to pick up all the seats”.
At a media chat after the election, Aniebonam enthused, “The CRFFN board election is a defining moment in the life of the freight forwarding industry, I am proud of the five gentlemen and lady that emerged victorious at the election. They are professionals to the core. I am very gratified that they have made the CRFFN board, and I have no reservation they will take the Council higher. There have been some hiccups since the election, one had expected the board should have started sitting. We hope that sooner or lateAr, they will be inaugurated”.