“NAFDAC, NDLEA are causing a lot of issues at the ports”
Dr Fred Ajuzie is the immediate past chairman of Apapa chapter chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF). In this interview with Anozie Egole, he spoke about what he has been doing after his tenure as the chapter chairman of the association. He also spoke about the Founder of his association; Dr Aaniebonam and other sundry issues.
“I don't want to take any position in NAGAFF; I just want to rest for some time before I can be able to ask for another position if at all I am interested”
What have you been doing after your exit as Apapa chapter chairman of NAGAFF?
I am a freight forwarder and I have a company, so I have been doing my business. Every elected person has his business, association is a different thing. So I have gone back to my business, I am a freight forwarder and a customs broker, so I have been doing my business in my office. The only thing is that I just want to rest after the eight years that I have been very busy with association issues, so I just want to rest a little. I am a past chairman of Apapa chapter chairman of the association.
How would you assess your successor, Mr. Ndubuisi?
He just came on board; it is not too long they came on board so you can’t access him now. But you can see what he did the last time when transporters were on strike and he was going round to meet with shipping companies and terminal operators. So he started on a good note and wherever he has challenge we are there to direct him, I am still a NAGAFF member. I cannot assess him for now because it’s still early.
In what area would you like to serve NAGAFF again?
For now, I don't want to take any position in NAGAFF; I just want to rest for some time before I can be able to ask for another position if at all I am interested. But for now I don't think I am interested in any position. Being chairman for eight years is not a small thing. I just came on board and after a year I took up the position of the chairman in 2010, so I need a little break. But I think I am very active if the founder asks me to do something for him, why won't I do it but I don't want to take up any thing for now. I have some issues with my health, so I am just trying to deal with it; that is why I don't want to take up any responsibility.
Recently the founder of NAGAFF; Dr Aniebonam said the he would be retiring from the association's activities next year, what do you have to say about that?
This question has been coming up, people have been asking me this and I have made a statement. In my own opinion, NAGAFF is a revolution and it is only founder that for now has all it takes to pilot the affairs of the association. There are a lot of young people that came into NAGAFF, they need to nurture them and the older people that are there will also retire soon. So in my own opinion I will suggest that the founder should not leave now because we will be missing him a lot. And the direction that he is pushing NAGAFF, who ever that tells you that he has the type of vision our founder has is deceiving himself. He is the only person, you can see what he did to CRFFN; NAGAFF came on board and almost cleared the whole slots. The man has worked so hard to put NAGAFF to this level. In fact let me put it like this, freight forwarders don't retire, I have not seen where an agent will tell you that he has retired, they don't retire. How old is he, he is still very active, he is not up to 70 years and he is very strong. Maybe he wants to step aside to see what he had already put on ground . He also has a political party to manage and some young people just joined NAGAFF. So he still has about 20 years to stay, if he gets to 80 years and says that he wants to step aside, by that time he would have started a lot of things and people like us will still come on board to play the role and ensure that NAGAFF can stand the test of time. We don't have anybody like him in NAGAFF, he has a lot of things to offer; he is a game changer. So nobody can fit into the shoe for now.
No retirement for freight forwarders, so I am surprised when he said that he is retiring he shouldn't retire unless there will be a very big issue.
How can NAGAFF cope without him for now, they can't; he is the face of NAGAFF, anybody that tells you the association can cope without him is lying. For the past nine years that I have been a member of NAGAFF, nobody can fit into that shoe. The man uses his money when it becomes so necessary, the people that are there are not ready they have their own agenda. What I have discovered is that they are only looking for what to ‘eat’. He is the only one carrying the affairs with the assistance people are giving him. For now, nobody can do it. For now nobody can fit into his shoes; maybe in the next 20 years people like us will be coming on board and we will become so matured. How can he leave now when the CRFFN governing council members that were just elected have not been inaugurated, if you are in our shoes will you ask him to go? For now, nobody can fit into his shoes. Any body that says he can do what our founder is doing at NAGAFF is telling lies, let them not deceive themselves. Let them stop saying for the sake of saying, for now nobody can do that.
How would you asses the ease of doing business, especially in Apapa port?
The ease of doing business is ongoing in Apapa, but we are still having problem with some agencies especially with NAFDAC. NAFDAC is not making things easy; they said that they are more than everybody. The vice president meant well and he told APMT to implement it but they are not allowing APMT to do what they are supposed to do. The ease of doing business on the side of Customs is going well because they are facilitating trade. But other agencies like NAFDAC and NDLEA are causing a lot of issues, they have taken over the whole of ports and I stand to be corrected, I don't think ease of doing business is doing well there.
How will you asses other agencies like the SON, Quarantine Services, amongst others?
They are the people working against the ease of doing business; they don't allow Customs to do what they are supposed to do. They are delaying the process and I don't think the ease of doing business will continue if all these agencies continue with what they are doing. But Quarantine doesn’t have issues.
We know there is a container office at platform inside Apapa ports, which also serves as a sort of revenue for the association, who now represents NAGAFF there?
NAGAFF is still there with other associations, I have left the office there because I am no longer the chairman of the association, the current chairman is still there with other association heads.