CRFFN ELECTION: CREFFPON CALLS FOR AMAECHI’S INTERVENTION IN GREY AREAS
By Mcanthony ONUOHA
Following the release of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), election timetable, freight forwarders have called the attention of the Minister of Transportation to grey areas.
RT.HON. ROTIMI CHIBUIKE AMAECHI, HON. MINISTER FOR TRANSPORTATION
The Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria- CREFFPON, has written to the Honourable Minister of Transportation, soliciting his urgent attention and intervention on what it described as” notable grey areas” observed in the published public notice with reference number T.4252/S.8/C.15/T/dated 2nd September, 2021, released from his office.
Though the advocacy group, in the open letter signed and made available to the Prestige Blended Magazine, by its Desk Administrative Officer, Comrade Edwin Chukwudire Obi, the group commended the office of the Minister for the decision to conduct a fresh election, though in strong anticipation of a transparent, free, fair and acceptable electioneering process, but raised concern over key observations hinging on the adminstrative arrangements, while expressing concern about possible unforseen developments that could require his attention but believing that if handled with wisdom, it would foster and enhance professional integration and administrative convenience going forward.
The grey areas in the public notice as identified by CREFFPON include
Collection of Nomination Form which commenced from 6th of September to end 17th of same month, 2021, from 10am to 4pm daily at specified locations. The timing, the group has said, is too short and capable of scheming out or shortchanging interested and eligible practitioners from exercising their legitimate professional rights to vote and be voted for.
Meanwhile, accreditation of candidates which is slated for 7th – 8th October, 2021, and display of contestants list on the 8th of October, 2021, at the venue of the election, CRFFN Office, Abuja and FMOT Office, Abuja respectively. The group observed that the display of the names of eligible registered freight forwarders or corporate firms to vote in the election as contained in the register of freight forwarders, especially in the context of the limited time frame for the organization and execution of the election was not proper; stating that as provided in the Act 16, of 2007, the Register of freight forwarders shall be published annually, which has not been effected.
“We hereby solicit for your urgent attention and intervention at ensuring that eligible voters list is published early and sealed to serve for electioneering process and purposes, this way, practitioners will be reassured of no iota of intent to manipulate the register as it were in the previous elections”, the group stated.
However, on choice of the Federal Capital Territory as venue of the election, CREFFPON expressed dissatisfaction, citing both economic and security reasons, especially the risk of moving over 4000 registered freight forwarders from Western and Eastern ports to Abuja, alleging that it was a clandestine administrative move to disenfranchise majority of the practitioners.
According to the public notice, the reason that informed the choice of FCT as the election venue was due to technical and security arrangements to ensure effective crowd control and success of the election. This reason, CREFFPON dismissed as being neither here nor there; saying that there are several ways of using electoral guidelines to checkmate crowd control other than exposing majority of the practitioners to numerous risks ranging from flight travel risk, especially under serious national security threats; not to talk of scarcity of fund,health risks, etc.
The group recalled what it described as the shambolic election into the CRFFN Council, midwifed by the Nigeria Shippers Council in 2008, which witnessed the import of street urchins in luxurious buses into the election venue at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, in the morning hours of the election day, hoping that such fraud would not be repeated; regrating that the aftermath of that election created room for subsequent fundamental administrative misgivings, calling on the minister to urgently intervene in that aspect of concern.
However, CREFFPON went further to express concern following the condition given before the release of nomination form and the guideline for the conduct of the election to candidate. In view of this, the group said it considered the act of non publication of the electoral guidelines accompanying this public notice as a conceived deliberate act factored not in utmost good fate; saying that it was a calculated rip-off on the part of the committee. ” It is not ideal to first collect a non refundable payment of N500,000.00 from an aspirant; upon accessing or collection of the electoral guidelines, having made payment,then discovers that he or she is not eligible to contest, such approach is crooked and can be termed as day light rip-off of freight forwarders. This crooked approach has the tendency to raise credibility questions and possibly trigger litigations”.
Furthermore, CREFFPON called on the Honorable Minister to make the committee reconsider the high cost of the nomination form, which is N500,000.00, saying it has always posed serious representation challenges on the part of elected freight forwarders, whom upon being sworn into the Governing Council, think of how to recoup monies they spent during the election; thereby leading to poor representation of the freight forwarders in the long run”, the group stated.