Former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); Chief Adebayo Sarumi and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council; Mr Hassan Bello yesterday alleged that egocentrism, selfishness and lack of cooperation among the leadership of freight forwarding associations were main reasons the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Act has not achieved desired results.
Both men spoke alongside other top maritime professionals including Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman, Chairman of Ships Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, Minister of Transportation,Mr Rotimi Amaechi, Comptroller General of Customs and others who gathered at the Golden Tulip in Festac Lagos to honour the immediate past National President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA); Prince Olayiwola Shittu.
The event was tagged "Prince Olayiwola Shittu Colloquium at 68 and Book Presentation"
Speaking, Sarumi lamented that several years after the CRFFN Act was came into existence, freight forwarding in Nigeria is still far from being professionalised. He accused freight forwarding practitioners of not allowing the Act to work, saying that this is the only way to the international recognition they.deserve
On his part, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, B Hassan Bello in a paper presentation also called for the establishment of a Freight Forwarding Institute which he suggested should be supervised by the National University Commission.
Sarumi, who is also a former Executive Secretary of the Shippers’ Council recalled that the CRFFN Act was first muted and formulated at the Shippers’ Council under his watch. He lamented however that extreme unionism which is coming from personality clash and rivalry among some association leaders stopped the success of the law and that the rivalry is still very much in play.
He said "One other thing that has made me extremely unhappy with the practice is this issue of extreme unionism which is coming from personality clash and rivalry, it is still there till tomorrow, NAGAFF on one side, Council of Managing Directors on the other side, ANLCA inclusive, in those days when we were trying to put them all together, we had to fight"
Analyzing some of the association leadership he said "If Aniebonam is going through the door on the right, Lucky Amiwero will be going through the door on the left and Alhaji Sanni Kamba is going through the front door, we never got anything right"
"When we put the Act together, for the first time in the history of this country, I say it with all boldness, you may contradict me if you have something to the contrary, that, it was inside the Shippers Council that the idea of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria came to be, for the first time"
"I have only one message for you today, let that Act work, tell your leaders wherever they may be, that they should for the sake of posterity in this country drop their egocentrism and their selfishness in the best interest of shipping practice in Nigeria and let that Act work"
"If you allow that Act to work, then you would be on the way to international recognition that you deserve, you are an important arm of the shipping business, there is no gainsaying the fact that you play an extremely prominent role in shipping into and out of this country"
Sarumi noted that foreigners have taken over the lucrative businesses that ought to have been handled by Nigerian freight forwarding firms.
He said "The big companies are not giving you their cargoes to clear, all that you are doing is just clearing one or two containers through what is smuggled in; the Alaba traders cargoes, that is what you are struggling about, the major consignment into this country, your members are not the ones that are handling them"
"How many of you have handled project cargoes for major projects that are going on in Nigeria? It is on record that several millions of consignments enter Nigeria as project cargoes for project development in this country, but they don't call on your members to clear them, the shipowner knows who he calls on, he calls on his foreign partners to come and do the clearing of the project cargo", he said.
He commended Prince Olayiwola Shittu for his leadership style while he was in the saddle for eight years as ANLCA president, saying that he tried the best he could to institute professionalism in the sector.
"I saw his style, if what he was preaching was embraced by each and everyone of us, we would still not be where we were some 20 years ago.
The gentleman is still feeling uncomfortable in his retirement, this means that there is still something he felt has not been achieved"
On his part, Shippers Council boss, Hassan Bello called for a review of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Act of 1954 to ensure that anyone seeking to obtain a customs license is first certified by the CRFFN.
He said that freight forwarding practice is very strategic and can no longer be left in the hands of touts.
Bello also observed that "The Nigeria Customs Service through the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Act of 1954 has only succeeded in licensing custom brokerage on the basis of inculcating professional ethics, but rather on payment of statutory registration fees"
"Subsequently, this has resulted in the non-professionalism in the practice, leading to annual loss of billions of Naira as a result fraudulent practices", he noted.