No. The government’s position is simple. Every other thing they are doing now is ‘four leprous fingers’ which cannot carry anything. If the government has said that until the council is in place, that is, after the election then they can now start thinking about that, why the rush? Why is the collection the most important thing they want to do when they have not been able to conduct elections into the governing council? When they call CRFFN a regulatory body, its duty includes regulating the industry to avoid proliferation because our freight forwarding industry was going towards a series of proliferations, anybody can wake up and carry portfolio and form an association and start making trouble here and there. CRFFN is to harmonize, standardize and make sure that the real practitioners are those they are regulating. They gave provisional accreditation to three associations and the associations promised to regularize but up till now nothing has been done about that, yet they keep parading themselves. That is to show you that what they are interested in is to add more to the cost of facilitating and clearing goods in our port.
David Chucks Kanikwu
I am in support of the collection because the law that sets up CRFFN gives them the powers to regulate all freight forwarding activities in the port. If they are to go into regulation, there are so many things they need to put in check, like equipping the industry, monitoring, development, research, seminars and capacity building. These are areas that they could generate these funds from. If they are going to act within the confines of their powers and function effectively, they are supposed to collect practicing fee. For example, most professional organizations in Nigeria collect practising fee, so what is the difference between them and CRFFN? So, I think CRFFN has the constitutional right to collect practising fee. What we should be looking at now is how much is reasonable for them to collect.
The government has given a directive which has been gazetted that CRFFN should collect practitioners’ fees. The highest percentage of the fee goes to the government. All other bodies like the pharmaceutical council collects practitioners’ fees from pharmacists and a whole lot of other bodies, so why should our own be different? People are just making a storm out of a tea cup. There is really no reason for anybody to say they have any issue with it. To me, any issue they are having about the collection is best known to those who are kicking against it. Those kicking against it now, haven’t they been collecting this money themselves? They should ask themselves some questions. And to think about it, we have been fighting for this for a long time; now that we’ve gotten a go ahead, some people now feel threatened because they were the only ones collecting it before.
I am not. Do they have the statutory powers to collect practitioners’ fees? CRFFN is not a government agency.It is a conglomerate of private individuals that seek government relevance by passing a private membership bill and include certain government appointees as members of the board. What do they want to collect practitioners’ fees for? They want to regulate an industry that’s not even regulated in the first place. It is an open-ended industry where all comers just come into the port and transact business. As we speak, the present administrative officials there are not even empowered by the law to commence such act administratively because the governing council has long beendisbanded because they have outlived their tenure.
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