In their bid to forge a common front, the five freight forwarding associations accredited by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), on Monday met in Lagos where they unanimously agreed to retain the sharing formula of 6-6-1-1-1 in the forthcoming CRFFN Governing Board elections.
Under the arrangement, the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) get 6 slots each while the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) and the National Association of Freight Forwarders and Airfreight Consolidators (NAFFAC) get 1 slot respectively.
This position held sway as AREFFN, which had earlier kicked against the one slot allotted to it on the grounds that the sharing formula was based on the parameters of 2018 and are no longer tenable in 2021 made a U-turn to agree with the arrangement.
The meeting, which held under the aegis of Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum followed a directive from the Transport Ministry penultimate week asking the freight forwarders to come up with modalities and reach an agreement within two weeks to elect candidates that will occupy the 15 elective posts for freight forwarders in the CRFFN Governing Board.
The independent candidates vying for position into the CRFFN governing board were, however absent at the meeting, an indication that they may not be willing to concede to the position of the accredited associations on the sharing formula.
Chairman Board of Trustees of NCMDLCA, Dr. Rafiu Oladipo, who announced the decision of the five accredited associations, while speaking to journalists after the meeting said the associations are not opposed to having independent candidates contest the CRFFN election but the leaders of the accredited associations must, however, provide leadership that will move the freight forwarding business forward.
While insisting on the sharing formula arrangement, Oladipo said the decision reached at the meeting would be communicated to the Ministry by Wednesday.
“Everybody that came for this meeting agreed that we still stand by the 6, 6, 1, 1, 1 arrangement. We are not opposed to any individual who wants to contest for the election. Everybody’s free to contest for the election. We are not equally opposed to the younger ones coming up. But the leaders of the five associations must provide leadership that will move the freight forwarding business forward and as such, we still stand by the arrangement.
“We were given two weeks to report back to the ministry and now that a decision has been taken today, we are going to make our communique ready and it will get to the ministry between now and Wednesday.
“The ministry through the CRFFN says there must be a consultative forum and what is the consultative forum? We are talking about the five accredited associations and this is where we have the five. So, if the ministry takes any decision, we are not going to say no but definitely we still stand by our decision,” he said.
Speaking on the position of AREFFN concerning the sharing formula arrangement, founder of AREFFN, Dr. Frank Ukor, who represented the association said, “I heard what happened at the last stakeholders meeting with the Permanent Secretary, but I came in here to say it was a mistake the AREFFN representative made to have taken that stand. I stand here as the founder of AREFFN to say that I am going ahead with the other associations.
He, however, stated that the association would no longer accept one slot in subsequent CRFFN elections because according to him, Obi is no longer a boy.”
On his part, President of ANLCA, Tony Iju Nwabunike, said what is more important to the associations is the representation of freight forwarders as one body on the CRFFN governing board that would address the numerous challenges faced by practitioners at the port and not on the basis of individual representation.
“We are now talking as a freight forwarders consultative forum, which is enshrined in the CRFFN Act. We are going into this election with 15 freight forwarders as one body. We want them to go and represent the freight forwarders and champion our problems. We have numerous problems in the port. So, it is not a matter of the CRFFN election that is the major issue, we are going beyond that. We don’t want any division anymore. It is high time, we stop talking about ANLCA, NAGAFF, AREFFN, we need to put our heads together, just as what we are doing now to make sure that we solve the problems of our members who elected us into various positions because if you look at what is happening in the port, you will agree with me that they need our support to do their jobs as a matter of urgency. So, the issue of division in the freight forwarding group now is a thing of the past.
Also speaking, NAFFAC President Adeyinka Bakare, while noting that most of the freight forwarders pushing for independent candidacy were groomed at the associations level, urged them to put behind whatever grievances they may have and return back to their associations for the collective interests of the freight forwarding industry.
He said invitation for the meeting was extended to the independent candidates but for reasons best known to them decided to boycott the meeting.
“I challenge any of them who have not benefited from any association before to come forward and tell us if what made them was not the association. If the association is what made them, I don’t know why they choose to go the way of individual candidates? Even if the association does not favor them today, that should not stop them from being a member of the association. Even if it is not their turn today, it can be their turn tomorrow if they come back home,” he said.