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[EDITORIAL] Roadmap for effective, efficient  forth governing council of CRFFN

Why CRFFN has failed to deliver on its mandate


In a bid to sanitise and regulate the operations of freight forwarding industry in Nigeria, the Federal Government, through an Act of Parliament No 16 of 2007, created the Council for Registration of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).

The first governing council, which had 15 elected and 17 government appointed members, was inaugurated for a two- year tenure in 2008 while the second governing board came  in 2010 for another two-year term.
The third governing council, which should have berthed in 2012, suffered a long delay of six years due to bickerings among the federating freight forwarding associations which stalled the elections during the intervening years.
It was not until 2018 that the third governing council came on board.
Out of the three governing boards that had administered the CRFFN since inception,  the third governing board has been most controversial in tenure, composition, operations and character.
The third governing board, headed by a retired soldier, Tsanni Abubakar, had the most embarrassing, unenviable and uninspiring  tenure that had come under unsparing attacks by the large army of freight forwarders.
The third governing council courted and hugged controversy from its inception.
The elections of its 15 representatives of the five federating freight forwarding groups were steeped in controversy as the elected members, thrown up by the election, were products of compromise, many of who didn’t enjoy the support of their constituencies.
Quite contrary to tradition, the inauguration of the council  members after the flawed  elections, suffered four months delay.
Whereas, the election was conducted in July 2018, the board was not inaugurated until November 2018.
The inauguration proper was also dramatic as both the elected and appointed members waited for two days with uncertainty in Abuja before the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, eventually inaugurated them.
Even at that, the Chairman of the governing board was hand picked by the Minister among the government appointees and imposed on the rest of the members of the governing council amidst protests from the 15 elected members who statutorily should have produced the Chairman through an elective process.
But  their muffled protests were brushed aside by Amaechi .
So, the third governing council of the CRFFN, was designed to fail, abinitio.
We are therefore not surprised that the Council, for two years, was redundant, uninspiring and laid back.
It was a unanimous belief among the army of freight forwarders, its primary constituents, that the third governing council did not make any impact on the lives and operations of freight forwarders in Nigeria.
For two years, the governing council had engaged in activities that had given its members away as those who lacked vision, focus and direction.
It has exposed them as members whose activities are steeped in self- preservation and self- glorification.
Whereas, the Act which established the council stipulates, among other things,  that it should promote highest standard of competence, practice and conduct among practitioners, ensuring professionalism and best ethics practices,  members had rather engaged in everything except those that would improve the fortunes of their constituency.
Allegations and counter-allegations of financial improprieties, pillage, crass inefficiency and incompetence have become regular companions of the council members.
All these malfeasances have made the third governing council  stink to the high heaven.
It has also made its primary constituents to have lost confidence and hope in the CRFFN.
However, in a bid not to allow the incoming fourth governing board suffer the same fate as the previous ones, attempt must be made by government to purge the incoming members of greed, selfish attitude and self preservation which were the hallmark of the third governing board.
While we are waiting for the Minister to inaugurate the fourth governing board whose members were recently elected, we urge the elected 15 freight forwarders and the selected 17 government representatives to put the interests of the teeming but hapless freight forwarders over and above their self interests.
This could be done by working for the growth of the freight forwarding industry and the welfare of its members.
We are glad that the elections of the 15 freight forwarders conducted recently was a clear departure from the previous exercise which put association’s affiliation over individual competence.
This departure was what gave rise to independent candidates.
To us, the mode of elections of the incoming fourth governing council recognized competence and capacity of individual candidates rather than the association they belong to.
However, what could be a blight on the otherwise bright spot of the incoming board was the extant law which admits 17 government representatives into the board who are in the majority.
Apart from the fact that they will be selected on the basis of loyalty rather than competence, the chairman often come from these selected majority.
The first two previous governing board had the privilege of being led by the chairmen elected from among the 15 freight forwarders, but Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation, has since changed that democratic practice through imposition of chairman from the government loyalists on the board.
He did it in 2018 during the third governing board and he was reported to have told who cared to listen that he would do it again for the incoming fourth governing board.
For us, this practice is not only undemocratic and autocratic but is capable of causing division and mutual suspicion between the 15 elected freight forwarders and 17 selected government loyalists.
We also want the government, in the amendment we propose, to reduce the number of selected representatives and allow elected fright forwarders be in majority because the council came into been to regulate and develop their profession.
And he who wears the shows, will know where it pinches.
This is why some stakeholders have called for the amendment of the council’s act to reflect the representativeness if fright forwarders.
As it is crafted now, CRFFN is largely an agency under the ministry of Transportation, a development that has hobbled the performance of previous governing boards.
We therefore support the amendment of the CRFFN Act to reduce the overbearing influence of government on the council.
This will make the true representatives of fright forwarders gain and dominate the council and empower them to work towards the growth and development of the freight forwarding industry

© 2022, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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