CRFFN in the eye of the storm

Penultimate week, when the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) rose from its 18th Governing Council Meeting and said that three more freight forwarding associations, which included the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders, Nigeria (AREFFN), the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) and National Association of Air Freight Forwarders and Consolidators (NAFFAC), have been given full accreditation status, we thought that the storm has finally settled for CRFFN to sail on a smooth course, but little did we know that it was just the beginning of another round of crises.
We will not want to revisit the issues surrounding the latest accreditation exercise by the CRFFN, but it is to be noted that the matter really pitched AREFFN against the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA). Understandably, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) joined the affray on the side of ANLCA, the NAGAFF leadership having failed in its moves to persuade AREFFN to merge with it. AREFFN National President, Dr. Frank Ukor, a dogged fighter, had refused to be swayed by the tongue-in-cheek offer of the NAGAFF Founder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam that he (Ukor) collapses AREFFN into NAGAFF, and be appointed “one of the Deputy National President.”
While that matter was laid to rest with the full accreditation status given to the trio of AREFFN, NCMDLCA and NAFFAC, the crisis currently rocking the CRFFN is coming after SHIPS & PORTS DAILY in its penultimate week Monday’s edition blew open the lid on the approval granted the CRFFN by the Minister of Transport for the collection of transaction fees.

Many persons, especially those close to the CRFFN Governing Council, were not (and are still not) happy with this medium, questioning why SHIPS & PORTS DAILY should disclose the amount to be realised from the transaction fees by the CRFFN.
Another twist was added to the whole issue last Wednesday when the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) threatened to resign his appointment in the CRFFN Governing Council over the collection of transaction fee by the CRFFN at an interactive session by an assemble of ANLCA’s national and chapter executives, as well as its Board of Trustees.

According to him, the CRFFN has agreed to give all its accredited associations subvention from the transaction fees, a situation the Shittu-led ANLCA queried.
Shittu asserted that ANLCA is dissatisfied with this decision by the CRFFN, stressing that the association deserves more than just a subvention and is, therefore, rejecting the offer.
In his words: “In order to show faith, with effect from tomorrow, I’m resigning my membership from the Council. A letter will go out from my office tomorrow because I cannot prosecute this fight and remain in the Council; it doesn’t make sense at all. Two, we shall write a letter to CRFFN rejecting the offer of subvention, based on what we have discussed among us now. We are not going to give them any option, we have rejected it and it stands there. Three, we will write to the Minister telling him of our own interpretation of transaction fees and why we object to it in totality. Four, we shall go to court.”
And true to his words last Thursday Shittu tendered his resignation via a letter addressed to the CRFFN Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, which was titled Resignation from the Governing Council of CRFFN, and copied to the Chairman of the CRFFN Governing Council.

The terse letter read: “I hereby tender my resignation as an appointed member of the Governing Council of CRFFN.
“Kindly convey my appreciation to the Honourable Minister of Transport for giving me the opportunity to serve the nation in that capacity.
“I am equally using this medium to formally return the only property of CRFFN in my custody which is CRFFN plate No. 06 to your good office.”
While we will not take sides with any of the parties on this issue, it is pertinent to ask: What is the sharing formula for the subvention? Does ANLCA feel that the money that will be gotten from the subvention not be able to carter for the association’s needs? Will the transaction fees affect the payment of dues by ANLCA members?

As is always the case, all the other freight forwarding associations are already reacting volubly to Shittu’s resignation and the related issues, mostly cashing in on the crisis in a bid to seek favour from either of the parties involved.
We have said repeatedly that the crises around the CRFFN, which each of the associations claim to be their brainchild, are becoming too many.
We do not wish to join issues, but we wish to state it unequivocally that issues of disagreements among Nigeria’s freight forwarding associations are becoming too many.
Each of these associations engages in endless efforts at outdoing each other, and we strongly feel this is not good for the system.

Incessant crises between the freight forwarding associations may be one of the reasons why the CRFFN has been unable to effectively carry out its mandate five years after its establishment.
This is indeed worrisome, because the freight forwarding associations are submerging the CRFFN in one controversy or the other, rendering it a veritable toothless bulldog.
The earlier the various associations realise this, the better. In the face of these feuds among the associations, the CRFFN of their dreams may never be.
Let the CRFFN and its accredited associations close ranks to really power credible freight forwarding practice in Nigeria.

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