CREFFPON; PASSIONATE ABOUT PORTS INDUSTRY SANITIZATION .
BY MCANTHONY ONUOHA
Recently, the ports industry began to notice a tidal wave, spreading very fast with a revolutionary tendency that could choke-off massive corruption, non accountability, high-handedness and extremely exasperating impunity, which has become a tradition in the ports industry.
With the CONGREGATION OF REGISTERED FREIGHT FORWARDING PRACTITIONERS OF NIGERIA (CREFFPON), a salvage movement has just begun in the ports industry, and is already spreading like wildfire.
I am not surprised about the timely emergence of CREFFPON, because presently, the ports industry is gasping for breath. It is true that billions of Naira is declared every month as generated revenue, but the level of corruption in the sector is indeed outlandish. Every department reeks of corruption. From Customs to agencies of Government to Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators, all you see is impunity, highhandedness, extortions and exploitations. And these excesses have overtime continued unchecked because almost everyone is involved in fraudulent activities against the nation, the clear picture looks exactly like a people carting away the spoil of war.
As it stands at the moment, there is a clear indication that those in position to defend freight forwarders and other maritime practioners have completely lost their voices because they lack the moral fiber to confront unethical practices, as one who goes to equity is expected to go with clean hands.
Frankly speaking, there is need for coming together of the professional faithfuls with a passion to instill sanity via clustering of brilliant ideas and efforts to rejig the profession.
In acheiving this feat, a new industry order can not be over ruled. And taking a critical look at the Aim and Objectives of Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON), you will have no other reason to stand aloof, eagerly anticipating a sterner force that will be more willing and courageous to hack down the existing industrial albatross; as CREFFPON has already taken up the gauntlet against underhandedness.
Years back, stakeholders who saw the need for proper regulation of the activities of freight forwarding practice, came together to support the idea of having a council that would carry out such function. The collective embrace of the Noble idea followed by serious lobbying led to the establishment of Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN), by parliamentary Act 16, of 2007. The advent of the council was seen by freight Forwarders as one of the best things that happened to the profession considering very important aspects of the profession the council prioritized for action as part of its aims and objectives.
However, the Council took off on a right footing as those who managed it from the beginning tried their best to consolidate it with very limited funds.
In a smart move, the Transport Ministry, under the supervision of Right Hon.Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi, did not waste time to hijack the Council from those that initiated the idea. But truly, it was not an ambush per say, as those who founded the council were a couple of times invited to a round table where the issue of what gets to who was roundly delibrated and agreement reached.
And those meetings saw to the official handover of the Council and its affairs to the Federal Government. And to take total charge, a Governing Board was set up, and members elected across associations after which, the Minister appointed a Chairman and influenced the appointment of a Registrar outside the profession to run the administration of the Council.
Since the Council became an agency of the Government, it became entitled to budgetary allocations, and slightly over four years now, there has been no major accomplishment as the Registrar and his corhorts keep coming up with white elephant projects as a sure way to syphon every Kobo allocated to the Council.
However, allegations of misappropriation of funds and falsification of certificate are leveled against the Council’s Registrar whose appointment processes and qualifications is now being questioned by the senior management officers of the Council, while in the other hand, in a clandestine move, he sacked the elected Freight Forwarders in the council on grounds that their tenure in the Board membership has elapsed and in the other hand, with the approval of the Ministry, reappointed the politicians ( not professionals) representing the geopolitical zones of the federation including the Chairman. As it were, the elected Freight Forwarders of the Council, not satisfied with the action,went and secured a court order for “status quo ante”.
Meanwhile, CREFFPON came up with its Aim and Objectives which include (1), To pursue the recovery, reclaiming and repositioning of the Regulatory Council (CRFFN), from the hands of masqueraders, political appointees and non professionals mismanaging the fortunes of freight forwarders. (2), To serve as a vanguard and a change agent, via mobilization, sensitisation and orientation of practitioners against the ills of a quango Professional Council.(3), To Convene freight Forwarding National Professional Congress as a turning point for critical thinking and professional decision making ground.(4), To make a strong demand for a new working professional relationship between freight forwarding practitioners and Nigerian Customs Service, Shipping Companies, Terminal Operators and Truck Owners.(5), To demand account of stewardship from all elected CRFFN Board Members.(6), To defend and address the welfare package of all freight Forwarders irrespective of Association.And(7),To use all legal and professional means to accomplish the Aim and Objectives of CREFFPON.
Apparently, apart from stiff resistance to economic sabourtage, the movement will utilize the following change instruments to achieve the tall order, (a),constructive criticism, (b), professional engagements, (c),effective advocacy, (d),whistle blowing, (e),sensitization and mobilization,etc. It has as well, devised an operational concept of “Talk the Talk and Walk the Talk” TTWT.
With the emergence of CREFFPON, every one in the Sector should expect system overhaul as those who occupy public offices should always be ready to give account of their stewardship, while shipping Companies and terminal operators’ excesses will no longer be condoned because freight Forwarders as logistics providers deserve better treatments. And that is why every one who partners the government in revenue generation should sign up for this great movement.
In the words of Fidel Castro,” times demand invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking all of you to be pioneers to this new frontier; my call is to the young at heart regardless of age, to the sport in spirit, regardless of party,and to those who respond to spiritual calls, be strong and of good courage, be not afraid neither be thus dismayed.
CREFFPON is not an association, but a voluntary Salvage Movement to restore Professionalism by willing CRFFN Registered Freight Forwarders .So, join the movement !
*Prodly MAJAN !