CRFFN ELECTION: ARFFN STILL INSISTS ON FAIRNESS— EJIKE AUGUSTINE METU
*** Says Ukor never represented group’s interest
Recently, the Publisher of The Prestige Blended Magazine, yours truly, Mcanthony Udochukwu Onuoha, and Lucky Dilichukwu Onyeji of LOD-O Media Concept, engaged the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria-ARFFN, and MD/CEO, Metusela Maritime and Logistics Limited as well as Chairman, Metuobi Investment Limited ,Mr. Ejike Augustine Metu, in an exclusive interview in his Lagos Office, the veteran actor, journalist and Customs Licensed Agent, had a swell time to speak on the lingering impasse fueled by the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria- CRFFN planned election, the position of his group on the arrangement, and other salient issues, enjoy the excerpt !
Sir, as an industry player, you have been following events as they unfold, the impasse being witnessed among various Associations, fueled by the planned CRFFN election that is expected to take place any time soon, what is your take on all these ?
As you just said, l am an industry player and there is no how l would tell you that I don’t know what is going on, the politics and intrigues in it are natural things , whichever way it goes, there is no how you would expect two or three persons to have same opinion on same issue. But while you are entitled to your right to box, that right ends when it gets to my nose.
The bottom line of what l am saying and what ARFFN is saying is that we are not contesting the parity with anybody; but we are saying that whatever you are distributing; whatever you are sharing should be shared equitably. The language is ” equitably”, there was a meeting we had with the registrar some time ago, this issue of sharing came up and the language of ARFFN was “we don’t want parity”, but for now, we are saying let’s go the way of equity and fairness ; it is very simple. If you are boasting that you have the capacity to take the whole 15 seats; no problem, let’s go to the poll ; if you take them all, we will wait until the next election, not being on the Board can not stop us from being CRFFN members. My number in CRFFN is 00415, it goes a long way to tell you that l was there the very first day they commenced registration. I have been given my certificate, l am one of the lucky few that received it. So, like you said, l am an industry player.
ARFFN is saying that you don’t expect Obi to remain a boy every year; these people that are claiming every seat started from somewhere, besides, there is nothing ARFFN is doing that is new; associations came up and grew within a certain period of time; so if these associations, including ARFFN, were to be human beings, they ought to have come of age. You don’t invite me for a meeting to start giving me instructions.If you are calling a meeting, I expect us to discuss and fashion out possible ways to harmonize issues; lay your opinion on the table and l would lay mine on the table also; we discuss them, if they are roundly acceptable, you shift ground where necessary while l also do same . But if it is coming as a gang up and you say we have agreed, “we”, which is all inclusive and l am saying I am not part of your “we”. ARFFN is saying, let there be equitable distribution this time, that’s all. If you don’t want it, like what happened in the meeting we had where they got up one after the other to speak all the grammar, did all their theatrics; and amazingly, one of them got up and said “I was the first President of ANLCA”, an association founded in 1954 ? That’s the year they claim it was founded. So, if you were the first President of ANLCA then, and you still come in 2021 to sit at a table as Chairman, Board of Trustees of National Council for Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents-NCMDCLA, is it not amazing ? Check the generational gap and that same man is still there in another Association? The ARFFN is saying that Obi can not continue to be a boy; but you, who were the first President of ANLCA are still sitting in a meeting accepting one seat for your present Association, and you want ARFFN to align with your choice ? “We have accepted”, who are the “we”? And who gave you the authority to make such blanket statement ? But after signing the documents, the permanent Secretary looked at it and said ” one of the associations has not signed. And my President, Alhaji Lawan Bala Daura,who was present at the meeting and someone got up to say, “all the five accredited associations have agreed.l was present at that meeting too. Honestly, to me, it was the height of rascality l must tell you. You can’t talk down on ARFFN. I was in that hall and was surprised. When my my President came to me l asked him what was happening and he said l should calm down, and we listened to one of them read whatever, after that Dr.Aniebonam got up and spoke in his usual manner, then Dr Rafui Ladipo spoke and said “we have agreed”, why did he not say National Council has agreed ? You can’t agree for yourself and agree for me. When the Permanent Secretary being one who knows how to manage people , spoke, saying ” I can see so so Association did not sign this; and that’s why we keep saying that Obi can not continue to be a boy; the young shall grow and that is the impasse we are witnessing presently. Whichever way you look at it, when people go about saying they have money, they have this, they have that, we watch them act their drama. In ARFFN, we are very respectful and also very mature, we are not asking for parity but fairness. Nobody should because of one thing or the other come to give us instructions. You called a meeting and did not involve us, there are official means of serving notice for meetings; and because we were not invited,we did not go, then all of a sudden, we now heard that someone went there to say he is the Founder of ARFFN, that he was there in his capacity as Founder of ARFFN. And even as he said,he was not there to represent ARFFN but was there in his capacity as Founder; for God’s sake, a rational human being there would have known that something was wrong somewhere. You are not the sitting President, you are not the BoT Chairman, neither are you the Secretary, you said you were there in your capacity as Founder ?
Okay, if we look at it this way, can former president or former Chairman of the board of either ANLCA or NAGAFF, walk into a meeting where such document is being signed and move to append a signature on behalf of either of the groups ? It is not possible because he must respect the leadership arrangement. They have sitting Presidents and those down that leadership hierarchy . And somebody invited a learned man like Ukor who should have known the consequences of his action, l don’t even know the inducement they gave him to stupidly append his signature on his own behalf not on behalf of ARFFN, not at all. I still repeat it again that he stupidly appended his signature on the invalid document , I said that because Ukor is learned, I don’t think there is anyone among them that is more learned than him; I know him very well. And for him to claim he is the Founder of ARFFN is where l have issue with him.’S’ can be added to the word ‘Founder’, if you are in doubt go look it up in your dictionary. Had it been it was an internal thing, would Ukor be claiming Founder ? Frank Ukor, Innocent Elum, and Ejike Metu, three of us founded ARFFN, go and check the records; that is why l asked whether ‘s’ can not be added to the word ‘Founder’ ? Founders, promoters, depending on the subject matter. So what is he talking about, he claims he spent his money and all that, what money did he spend, let him not annoy me because if he does, he won’t be glad he did. The ten long years we allowed him to run ARFFN what did he achieve ? Absolutely nothing. Go and check what ARFFN has achieved under Alhaji Lawan Bala Daura, and myself as the BoT Chairman, go and check. At least people that were laughing at us that we didn’t have a Secretariat should go and see things themselves.
Talking about the CRFFN leadership, our members are registering because they can see that we are the next Bride, ; even all these people making a noise; if you take it upon yourself to look into their real numerical strength and spread; I can beat my chest and say, ARFFN is a big association . Some people want to have it all for themselves at all times. It doesn’t work that way, always expect to win some and lose some.
If any one comes out to tell you 6:6:1:1:1 in 2018, then in 2021, four years after, he also comes up with such arrangement when a child born in 2018 is no longer crawling, he ought to have two younger ones behind him in the natural sense of it. We have no problem with officially organized meetings where we go to brainstorm . You had and interview with my President, I know full well he made his position on the issue very clear. That is why l don’t want to keep talking about it in order not to contradict his position.
Sir, had numerical strength and input in CRFFN formative years got anything to do with the sharing formula ?
Prior to the Council election in 2018, a particular Association registered all manner of people . And we sat in a meeting when this issue came up, and we said when the push come to a show we will know . We can comfortably register Okada and Keke Operators but we won’t do that . But saying that what was done in 2018 will be repeated in 2021 is unacceptable; we say no to that. The 2018 election was supervised by CRFFN at its Secretariat in Lagos; but this time around the ministry of Transportation is in charge. And as l told you, we had to agree with the arrangement in 2018 to move on, we didn’t want to be static, we needed to move on. So it would be very irrational for one to come up with such arrangement in 2021, when we know the sacrifices we made to say let’s forge ahead. If sense is common as some people say, why won’t those involved sit down and look at it again. You keep referring to ARFFN and others as small associations, then why not leave us out of the whole arrangement and forge ahead, in all, you still have those you refer to as small groups to contend with. Talking about spread, we have our chapters in Kano, Kaduna, my President is from the East, we are in Lagos, and at Boarder stations; ARFFN is very much on ground. So, when you talk about numerical strength; we don’t believe in going on the streets to make it all comers affair thereby bastardizing the vision and integrity of our noble Association. But l want to assure you that whatever number it was in 2018 is no longer what it is today.
If you go to any meeting, there must be some salient points you should be able to take away in that meeting; the permanent Secretary in a meeting held recently, said, “it can no longer be what it was in 2018, so go back and sort yourselves out why we wait for the outcome of your meeting”. Whichever way, they know us inside out. No group should decide for the other, and you must also know that my position today might differ from my position next time we meet. And what everyone should know is that all the associations have contributed in one way or the other to the advancement of the profession in particular and the industry at large, we are all partners in progress.
Hon. Tony Iju is a man l respect. Dr. Aniebonam is also a man l have much respect for. Association differences have nothing to do with our personal relationships. So when you want to address me, address me Chairman, BoT of ARFFN, the way you represent an association is the same way I am representing an association, don’t look down on me because you feel you are more financially buoyant but you must know that you can not be every where at the same time; if you are in the front l am at the back, you can’t be in the front and still be at the back at the same time, the line up does not remain the same on a parade ground.
If l may ask, who and who sat down and agreed that ANLCA and NAGAFF should bring 2.4 million Naira each, while ARFFN and others bring 100,000 Naira each for logistics, l think it is another way of insulting. If it is 10 million Naira, share it amongst the five, and l assure you, ARFFN will comfortably come up with its own without berthing an eyelid; where we got the money to pay is none of your business.
As l said earlier, ARFFN is mature enough to know its right, ARFFN is insisting on fairness, that’s where we strongly stand .