The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has said that membership of a freight forwarding association is not a criteria for its election which is billed to hold on Saturday in Lagos.
Speaking exclusively with Shipping Position Daily yesterday at the venue of the verification and accreditation exercise at the Council headquarters yesterday, Registrar of the council, Sir Mike Jukwe assured that there is going to be free and fair election under a peaceful environment.
Recall that founder of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF); Dr. Boniface Aniebonam had at a press briefing in Lagos on Wednesday stated that contestants in the election have to belong to a freight forwarding association.
Aniebonam was reacting to questions from journalists in regards to the disqualification of some candidates, including former President of NAGAFF, Dr. Eugene Nweke, and allegations by some other persons that they were disenfranchised.
He had said: "Let me give you an example, you cannot contest an election in this country if you do not belong to a political party. If you want to contest for election in this Federal Republic of Nigeria you must be a member of a political party”.
"When you come down to our own sector, you have CRFFN as a regulator and CRFFN has accredited five associations and in this five associations you have the opportunity to join one of them”.
According to him, the association is a framework for individuals to strive even as he added that anybody that fails to associate with the association need to be properly checked.
"So the association is the framework for individuals to strive and can tell you that 99.9% of practitioners in the industry belong to one association or the other. So if you are not in one of those associations you have to look at yourself if everything is okay with you"
It was also gathered that controversy has been trailing one of the contestants under the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agent (NCMDLCA) Chief Austen Kelly. His association group of elders in a press statement denied him, saying that he has no legal standing to represent the association for the elections.
In reaction to this, Jukwe told our correspondent that: "We are not dealing with associations, we are dealing with individuals, Austen Kelly is contesting as a registered freight forwarder and not contesting from NAGAFF, ANLCA or whatever association. So we are dealing with individuals directly"
"Association is voluntary, you can belong to anyone you wish, but once you are registered as a freight forwarder, you stand qualified, it is not because you have to be in an association"
"The Act setting up the council states that you can register under three categories, individual, corporate and associations, but that doesn't mean you are forced to belong to an association".
"Just like political parties, they organise their primaries and among the individuals, they know how they can step down for one another, it is not for CRFFN to decide", he stressed.
Speaking on the disqualification of Eugene Nweke, Dr. Zebulon Ikokide and others, the CRFFN Registrar said that they simply did not meet the guidelines and qualifications spelt out.
"We gave notice of the election for four weeks running and it was open to every freight forwarder, the first qualification is that you must be a registered freight forwarder. It was a level playing ground for everybody"
"The Act is very clear, that we must conduct an election and we are going forward with it"
"If you don't meet all the conditions specified, then you stand disqualified. What we are doing is not selection", he explained further.
Explaining reason for the recent shift in the date of the election, Jukwe said, "the process has started along the line, there were some logistics problems, so we had to shift the date of the election, but all is now set and we are sure that it is going to be free and fair"
"Logistics problems is common and it is human, but there is nothing to worry about, the preparation is very good, you can see it for yourself, the process is very simplified and it would be peaceful to the end", he assured.