Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, says the sum of N10 billion spent by the Federal Government on the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) is “a total waste of public funds”.
Aniebonam, who said this in a chat with SHIPS & PORTS in Lagos, also insists that CRFFN is not a government agency and as such does not qualify for statutory allocations given to it by the Federal Government.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had in 2014 ruled that CRFFN is a government agency, thus making it one of the six agencies of the Federal Government under the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
Aniebonam said NAGAFF has filed an appeal to challenge the judgement of the Federal High Court which recognised CRFFN as an agency of government.
He said, “We are back to court. CRFFN is not an agency of government. Our prayers is to call for appeal to reverse the judgement of the lower court that CRFFN is an agency of government because we know it is not true. The constitution of the Council is very clear, wherein, the Chairman and members of the Council are elected from the register of freight forwarders as opposed to other agencies of government like NIMASA, NPA and Shippers’ Council. The Registrar of CRFFN is an employee of the Council and not an employee of the Transport Ministry.
“They are in breach of the CRFFN Act, In a country where the administration is crying for revenue and section 6 of the Council Act is very clear that the Council is self funding. So why would they now prefer to go the federal account to make money? Now, if we have spent over N10 billion in a country where thousands of graduates are churned out with no work, shouldn’t government have applied that money for something else?
“What government is allocating to the council is a total waste of public fund. CRFFN don’t have to rely on public fund because it is not an agency of government and that is why we are challenging the lower court’s decision. We will pursue the case to the Supreme Court.”
Aniebonam said while CRFFN has witnessed some changes since the inauguration of the incumbent governing board a year ago, such changes have not transformed into concrete achievements that would benefit freight forwarders whom he said are faced with series of challenges in the course of carrying out their operations at the ports.
“I believe the council is working behind the scene but by January next year if nothing happens, we will start singing a different song because the agents are suffering so much in the port and the council is supposed to protect them. We cannot continue to say they are still settling down,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, NAGAFF said it has concluded plans to celebrate its 20th anniversary with the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali and Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo Olu, leading the pack of guests of honour at the event.
The Chairman, Institute of Maritime Studies, University of Lagos, Prof Iyiola Oni, is also expected to give the annual lecture, with the theme “The Single Window Evolution under African Continental Free Agreement Regime”.
The Chairman, NAGAFF 20th Anniversary Organising Committee, Tochukwu Ezisi, said part of activities marking the celebration will include the matriculation ceremony for new students of NAGAFF Academy and a visit to the Apapa General Hospital where bills of some patients having challenges in offsetting their payments will be settled.
He said, “At 20 years of successful freight forwarding activities in the maritime industry, we have every reason to shout on the top roof, to show that the efforts of the man who had this vision, Dr.Boniface Aniebonam and other like minds, did not go in vain.
“NAGAFF has grown to be like an iroko tree, with branches all over. This calls for celebration and some activities have been lined up to commemorate the occasion, beginning from Friday.”
He said the event will also afford NAGAFF the opportunity to appreciate individuals and operators who have contributed to the growth of the industry, through award of excellence.