“If they want me to become NAGAFF President tomorrow, I am qualified; I have all the requirements to hold any position in the association”
Dr Fredrick Ajuzie is the first elected chapter chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Apapa. In this interview with Anozie Egole, the freight forwarder reminiscence on his tenure, which is about to expire. He also talked about the controversial POF collection and the relationship between NAGAFF and ANLCA.
“My regret is that I have not been able to set up a digital association office for Apapa NAGAFF”
What is your opinion on the recent directive by BoT of NAGAFF to dissolve its NECOM?It is a normal routine, we now have a substantial President and I think the board has lasted for over six years now. So it is a normal thing for them to do a total overhaul of the board. Probably the board chairman might still continue depending on the tenure. The substantive President has a duration of three years each for two tenures after which it enters elective position for the President. But for now the position of the President is by appointment by the NEC, though we lost our President earlier this year and that is why the new President came on board.
As at the time you assumed office as the Apapa chapter chairman of NAGAFF, what were the things you met on ground?I assumed office in April 2010 and as at that time I was the first elected chairman of NAGAFF, so I am the pioneer elected chairman of NAGAFF in general. So there was no structure really on ground.
Being the first elected chairman of NAGAFF, what were the challenges?What I count as one of my achievements is that before I was elected, the association was not heard as far as Apapa is concerned. Our founder has achieved a lot by establishing the platform, but when I came on board they were having lots of issues with ANLCA, but I tried to make sure that NAGAFF in Apapa have their say.When I came on board, I discovered that ANLCA has been on board before NAGAFF so there were lots of rivalries. Then the ANLCA chairman was not making things easy for NAGAFF members, so they were having issues. But before I came on board, I knew the then-chairman of ANLCA, we were close so I tried and ensure that we come together and make things the way it should be. That was what I would say that I was able to achieve. There were so many other things I achieved; they are enormous we have achieved things that you might not see physically. When you ask of NAGAFF in Apapa, all the respective government agencies will tell you that we are aware of the association in Apapa. So we have stamped our footprint boldly and we have made a statement. Physically, it is not that we have built a house but it is in the process it is now left for my successor to continue. Being the Apapa chapter chairman of NAGAFF for the past seven years has established a kind of foundation where whoever that comes after me will build from. That is what I will tell you that is our greatest achievement.
Do you have an idea of who will take after you?Well, they just lifted the ban on electioneering campaign after the dissolution of NECOM. I will not go canvassing for my successor; I am yet to see who fits into the shoes of NAGAFF in Apapa because there are lots of things that are involved in terms of the election. Now it is not the same way it was when we came on board, there is a lot of awareness now than then when we came on board. One is that the person’s educational background will come to play and financial background in terms of business. There are lots of things that will qualify you to fit in as my successor. I am also there to advice NAGAFF on whoever that will come on board, I am not to determine but to give an advice from the experiences I have had as the chairman of Apapa. I think my experience will count a lot in advising NAGAFF when it comes to election in Apapa. I have no candidate for now I have never positioned anybody to take over. For me the election is open; whoever that is ready should come on board, we welcome the person.
How would you assess the Apapa road reconstruction going on?The road is so bad and they are taking their time to do it well if they are still at a particular spot that means that place is very bad and other areas might not be as bad as that particular spot. Even if they can spend six months on the spot to fix that place, so far as they will do it well there is no problem with that. In my assessment they are doing it well.
What do you think is the cause of the delay in the collection of POF?There is no governing council for CRFFN. The point is that when NAGAFF tried to educate the minister on how to go about that, the minister will listen to another advice and they confused him and that is why the thing is delaying. Someone was asking question if there is anywhere in the world where such fee is collected. If there is no place in the world where they collect such fee, we can start it here in Nigeria. Can’t Nigeria be a stepping stone, if other countries did not start it and Nigeria starts it and the house approves it they will be making reference to Nigeria. I don’t know what is wrong with our people. Fashola started wharf landing fee, the state House of Assembly deliberated on it and passed it and he signed it then when he was the governor now they are generating million, about N78million every month. This is our baby and we are the professional in the sector, there is no good that come from anywhere in the world that will not pass through a freight forwarder or a broker. What do we gain? Are we not supposed to be part of it? This wharf landing fee is our baby. We have been talking of POF and people have been saying so many things. The founder of NAGAFF has tried so hard to ensure that it works out, but people won’t hear; but it is for everybody’s benefit.
After your tenure what is your next step?The chairmanship is an experience; it is an eye opener for a lot of things. It is so political and I thank God that I experienced it, I am not talking about the monetary side after all nobody pays you, you don’t even have the kick-off to start with. You manage the association with the little knowledge you have to ensure that the association goes higher. There are a lot of things you have to show including your integrity, prudence and also not to sell out the association by going against the law. I am an image maker of NAGAFF in Apapa and I need to be very careful. So it is an experience on how to live a public life. I thank the founder who has built the platform that everybody is using and I am also grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to serve on the platform. After my tenure here, it is left for the headquarters to determine what they want me to do for them; because they have our data and they know where to place each and every one of us. I am open if they want me to become NAGAFF President tomorrow I am qualified; I have all the requirements to hold any position in the association.
What do you have to say about the NAGAFF, ANLCA rivalry especially on the POF collection?They have been like that since, there is one adage the President of ANLCA say. He says, you have been fighting NAGAFF all these while and you have not been able to succeed, NAGAFF is still waxing so since we can’t defeat these people why can’t we put heads together and work. I don’t know why people do not want to toll that lane. My founder is not relenting in anyway, so whatever they are saying I don’t know who is making it impossible. There are lots of hindrances. I pray things should be done the way they should.
Do you have any regrets so far as the Apapa Chapter Chairman of NAGAFF?My regret is that I have not been able to set up a digital association office for Apapa NAGAFF that is an IT office. But I am very hopeful that before I leave office finally in a couple of month’s time, I must do that it might not be in a very elaborate way, but in such a way that anybody can come and identify as a member of the chapter. I am very optimistic that it will come before I leave office.