Fresh insights into the alleged secrecy and desperation behind plans to amend the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Act are beginning to emerge.
Recall that the controversial Public Hearing that was being put together by the House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbour on the Act establishing the CRFFN, had been scheduled to hold on Tuesday February 18, 2020. But, it was later postponed indefinitely because of COVID-19 and the restriction of movement across the country.
But, prior to the last minute postponement, there had been divergent reaction to the proposed amendment and the public hearing.
Some stakeholders had alleged members of the governing council of CRFFN were actually the unseen hands behind the amendment.
The alleged that two things motivated the council members to push for the amendment, and that the two reasons were fuelled by personal interests.
According to those who alleged, they said the council members actually wanted an extension of the tenure of to four years instead of the constitutional two years. The current term of two years expires in October 2020.
Secondly, the stakeholders also alleged that the chairman of the governing council wanted an amendment that will confer the President with the powers of appointing the chairman of the governing council of CRFFN.
Confirming veracity of the allegations, Chairman Education Committee of CRFFN; Mr. Kayode Farinto said the push for the amendment of the act did not actually come from the CRFFN, but from the National Assembly. He however stated that the Act was due for review.
Farinto who also doubles as the Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), in a chat with Shipping Position Daily, said there were so many loopholes in the Act that need to be reviewed.
Farinto admitted that the current governing council of the CRFFN is actually seeking tenure elongation because it could not do much owing to circumstances beyond their power.
He said after the council election in April 2018, it took about three months before the inauguration of the council and that with the COVID -19 Pandemic which has also lasted closed to four months, it has been difficult for the council to really do much.
He said the tenure elongation for the council will actually help the council to do more, rather than calling for another election by November.
Sounding confused, he said: “The issue of pushing for an amendment is from the council and not the council per se, but from the National Assembly. I think someone somewhere wrote that the Act is due for review, and we do know that once an Act is due for review and that, once the Act is over 5 or 10 years, then it is subject to review.
“There are too many lacunas in the Act that need to be reviewed and when it was brought to the notice of the governing council, we deliberated on it. But, I am surprised that people are reading more to the tenure elongation, which I will say is normal anyway.
“What we discussed on the issue of tenure elongation is that, if you are a member of the council elected before the time of President Muhammadu Buhari, you can sit (sic) hold council meetings for as many times as you can, but when Buhari came, the instruction was that if you are a member of any governing council, you are expected to sit three or four times a year, that is quarterly; just to reduce government spending.
“Secondly, the sitting allowance is just N50,000, so this actually disrupts the activities of the council; we cannot flout the instruction of the executive council that every council member should sit four times in a year.
“And there are a lot of things that were not done within the period of these two years. If you look at when we were actually elected, it took about three months before we were even inaugurated at all.