AMAECHI MUST NOT FAIL TO LAY SOLID FOUNDATION FOR CRFFN — OMOTOSHO
Recently, the Publisher of The Prestige Blended Magazine, yours truly, Mcanthony Udochukwu Onuoha, engaged the Registrar, NAGAFF Academy, and Senior Freight Forwarder, Mr. Francis Omotosho, in an exclusive interview at NAGAFF Headquarters, Apapa, Lagos. He bared his mind on issues hinging on the CRFFN appointments and administration, as well as the imbroglio trailing its planned Governing Board election, while setting agenda for the Minister.
Enjoy the excerpt!
My name is Senior Freight Forwarder Francis Omotosho; Registrar, NAGAFF Academy.
* What is your take on political appointments into the Council, do you think it is good for the Council ?
Yes, it is good for the Council. The Hon.Minister is the eye of the Federal Government of Nigeria; and has been given that responsibility to make sure the Council represents the interest of the Government. And the primary interest of the Government is to uphold the unity of Nigeria; equal share and equal representation. That is why Section 2(1D), of the Act states that the six persons shall be appointed by the Minister to represent the 6 geopolitical zones in rotation for 2years at a time, and no two of whom shall be indigenes of the same state . That alone gives the Minister power to make political appointments into the council; the Act is very clear as well.
RT.HON. CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI, HON. MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION
The Hon. Minister must also form the Council in line with the Law, that is to say ; the 6 geopolitical Zones of the Federation, which are the North Central, comprising kwara, Niger, Kogi, FCT Abuja, Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau States; the North East, with 6 States, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Adamawa, Yobe and Bornu; North West, 7 States, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, kebbi,Zamfara. Sokoto and Jigawa; South West, 6 States, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo,Osun and Ekiti; South-South, 6 States, Edo, Delta,Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Bayelsa; and South East, 5 States, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi. Those are the six geopolitical zones of the Federation. And the Minister has been given the power to appoint persons to represent those zones in rotation for two years tenure, and none of them should come from the same State at a time; which means they must be given equal share and representation.
Like l told you, the primary role of the Minister is to make sure he forms the Council within the ambit of the law. If the foundation be destroyed what would the righteous do ? If the foundation which is the formation of the Council is not properly structured, well done in the right direction, in line with the Act that established the Council, then we can never get it right; just as the Minister said that he is not happy with what is going on . But the problem is also from him because he needs to form the Council in line with the law. You must form a strong basis in whatever you want to do in life. Like l said, if the formation stage of the Council is wrong, we can not get it right so what I am saying in essence is that, these 6 persons that the Minister would appoint from the six geopolitical zones must also be registered freight forwarders; if they are not, they can not fit in.
FWDR. FRANCIS OMOTOSHO, REGISTRAR, NAGAFF ACADEMY
The minister must draw those names from registered freight forwarders; we have many people in the industry as members of the Council from all the geopolitical zones, he can pick them from there. It is not the case of it is not me it can not be any other person; there are lots of Professionals in the industry that can do the job. Let no one think that only few persons can do the job, but they must be registered freight forwarders; not only that, if he is appointing them, yes, they may be from the ruling party, but if the Minister wants to get an excellent result and also run an inclusive government, he may wish to appoint somebody from another political party who is also a freight forwarder.
When he is appointing, he must make sure that he does that in the spirit of fair play, fair sharing and representation because the Act states it very clear,” in rotation for two years”. Which means if he appoints someone from Katsina which is under North West geopolitical zone, and there are seven States in that zone, and he serves for two years; he must pave way for another person either from Kaduna or Kano or Sokoto or Jigawa or Kebbi or Zamfara, to also have their own share in the rotation. That is the starting point for the formation of the Council. Anything short of this is building on wrong status. The Minister has been given the responsibility to make sure the Council works, and his role is to ensure he forms the Council well with good character; these political appointees represent what we call the Federal Character, and the Major thing is that the unity of Nigeria is what they are going there to uphold, and also with the interest of the Freight Forwarding profession at heart. They must represent all freight forwarders because they are part and parcel of the subsector. It is not compulsory to appoint from the ruling party, they can as well be chosen from other parties if the Minister wishes to run an inclusive government, they must come from different geopolitical zones and a state at a time for two years. If he does that; that is a good foundation for the Council. And that is what we are expecting ; we don’t expect anything less. We have so many people that have served in the Council, they are ex- Council members and cannot repeat themselves. There are people from other states who have not heard representation in the Council; there are a lot of people who can do the job; myriads of them. Anybody who thinks without him the Council can not move on is making a mistake, he should have a rethink because it is a big joke, if l, Omotosho, think nobody can do it, it is a big joke on my part. God can raise even a stone to do that which you think can not be done without you. Nobody is going to do it for the Minister; his responsibility is to do it according to the Act .
* On the Zoning arrangement and sharing formula, Fwdr Omotosho reacted thus :
The sharing formula of freight forwarders is not Zoning. What is called zoning is the Federal Character representation of different geopolitical zones which is okay; and it must be done in line with the law; two years each. When you talk of 6:6:1:1:1, you would be talking about another character which is general character. That of political appointees is called Federal Character. When you come to general character in Section 5, Subsection 1of the CRFFN Act, the general character in this subject matter are Associations of freight forwarders, ANLCA, NAGAFF, NATIONAL COUNCIL for MANAGING DIRECTORS of CUSTOMS LICENSED AGENTS, ARFFN and NAFAC, those are the five accredited Associations by CRFFN, and they constitute what we call general character. This particular character and federal character are the only characters the Minister can listen to, being the principal actors. It was a big problem when we started CRFFN. It was a challenge before the birth of the Act; some associations never wanted it; they sponsored so many challenges against the Act at the National Assembly; it took God’s intervention for that Act to succeed at the end of the day. The first Chairman of the Council, Hon.Tony Iju, the second Chairman, Hakeem Olarenwaju , including Jukwe, the then Registrar , all worked hard to make sure the associations work in harmony; it was a serious battle If the Minister does not want to appreciate what these people did for him, that the five registered associations now work in harmony is a very achievement for the trio. They made a regulation to come up with what is known as Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum, where all the five registered associations now speak in one voice; which should be appreciated by the Minister because he is not supposed to speak with individual character, no individual Freight Forwarder should go to him, he doesn’t need to see them; he speaks with only those appointed by him; he speaks with the general character that the Council has been able to put together as Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum. It is stated clearly in Section 5, Subsection 1, that the Minister must not do with individual character, it is an aberration .
Now , other associations have sprung up; no problem about that. They can come up, but they must follow the procedures; once you meet the criteria to register, they register you. Possibly you lobby among the Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum, they would register you, it is not a big problem if we look at the whole situation. ANLCA is the father of all of them; most of the associations emanated from ANLCA. NAGAFF emanated from ANLCA and was able to meet up the criteria; and it is moving on . They could not speak with one voice earlier on but now, all of them are speaking in one voice, it is an achievement for the Council; hard work of Tony Iju, Hakeem Olarenwaju and Jukwe, it is indeed a very big milestone. What we have playing out are individuals who have lost out, possibly because their tenures have ended and they can not go back again as they can not get what they are looking for , they want to scatter it. The Minister should be very careful listening to them. And please note that in general character, all freight forwarders are represented through their associations, and once they arrive at a particular position after coming together to discuss, that is the general position, any individual that is against that must not be entertained by the Minister, he should not descend low to be entertaining individual character, it is well stated in Section 5, Subsection 1, he should not do that.
If the association have selected or appointed or elected people to represent them, so be it. The next person should wait for his or her turn. The problem is that the process of going into the general character is through election, but if it is by the Minister, it is appointment; may be freight forwarders can benefit from that area as well if all agree that the Minister should do the right thing. Listening to individual character is against the Act, see Section 5, Subsection 2 of the CRFFN Act.