CRFFN Is A Total Failure, It’s Not A Government Agency, Can Never Be —Bonniface Aniebonam

.E-CALL UP: Enforcement agencies must rise to their responsibilities

.ANLCA, Shippers’ Council Under Late Capt Biu, Killed CRFFN


What’s your perception about the e-call up system introduced by Nigeria Port Authority?

The truth is that we’ve been talking all along and it seems we are talking to nobody. What is the big deal about e-call up system, is it something we should be talking about? The truth is that we are not thinking and the country as a whole does not have people that are thinking for her and even if there is, nobody is listening. NAGAFF is as old as 1999 when I founded the organization as the first president, and to be honest, things we did observe when the Nigeria port entered the second degree of development wherein manufacturing firms like Flour mill, Dangote were buying up the spaces in the port, and then we begin to think that a time will come like this that we need to be very careful. The port is a transit area, it means that cargoes that are coming into the port have to go, to give room for inward- bound cargo. So we advocated and wrote to the presidency and that was the time of Olusegun Obasanjo; that there is need to open up some terminals outside the ports that could service the port on call-up systems, in other words once you are ready to go, haven concluded your processes and procedures, then exit out of Customs control and then the truck will be called in. It was the same time we advocated the need to expand the access road into the port at Tin Can down to Mile 2, Apapa down to Surulere. The government have what it takes to do that since it is for the interest of the public and indeed the cargo throughput has increased in Lagos in particular. We did not add value to the road that we are making use of as if we did not have a government. The call up system you referred to can be referred to as gate crashing, it was never planned before now. So what we are doing now is a make-up and of course, you can see that the problem is quite enormous and the worse scenario is that I guess some people have started benefitting from the system.

How do you mean?

Definitely, some people are benefitting out of that, because the ports as it were now trucks will go and pick in containers from the port and part with some money before giving an access. I am speaking as a freight forwarder.

Are you alleging that there is corruption in the system?

It is not about alleging, it is about the fact that, there is corruption in the system.

Are you referring to this new e-call up system?

The old system and the new system all comprise of the same people, so it doesn’t make sense as far as I am concerned, but you see the good thing about it is the concept; the concept is quite laudable, particularly the efforts of NPA in collaboration with NSC, but then the problem is enormous and overwhelming.

But would you say it is a failure?

For now, it is not working, you should allow me tell you how it is. At almost age 68, what else am I looking for. I founded NAGAFF and created a capacity, I am the chairman of a political party which I founded and it is sustainable and winning elections in Nigeria and I don’t think I will be afraid not to say what I think is appropriate and that is good for the society. So it is not working for now, but we can make it work.

How can we make it work?

Laws are made to be obeyed, regulations are made to be obeyed and that has to do with human beings. So the enforcement agencies must rise to their responsibilities, just like the issue of security in Nigeria. Whatever we say, the port is an integral part of Nigeria; looking at the insurgency are you telling me that this country does not have the capacity to suppress the problem. It’s just that, do we have a political way to suppress this?

Are you satisfied with the position of CRFFN as at today; it looks as though the Council is still crawling?

CRFFN will continue to crawl, you know why it started to fail, it is as simple as that. It is unfortunate but that is the reality on ground.

CRFFN started to fail, you know to destroy is very easy but to build is difficult. I just hope those in authority will understand that you don’t reap where you did not sow.

Who is sowing, who is reaping?

NAGAFF sowed, but was not allowed to reap. For us to reap, the reaping I am talking about is the second stage of CRFFN administration. The concept, what the dreamers thought about CRFFN

But I will want your verdict about CRFFN, is it a failure?

CRFFN is a total failure; I told you that it started to fail from the beginning.

Who contributed to its failure?

The government itself under the watch eye of the Nigeria Shippers’ Council; late Captain Biu, in particular, late Captain Biu had a mandate to organize the maiden election of the Council, even as it were, the composition of the Council, three starters; the individual members, Corporate and Association. It’s not good to talk about the late, but I had said so many things when Capt Biu was alive. The current executive secretary of NSC, was the legal officer of NSC then and if you go and ask him one on one on the way to go about the establishment or management of the CRFFN, but nobody listened to him, and right now there is nothing he could do because the mandate that was given to them has expired in term of conducting the election. CRFFN is not working and it can’t work unless they listen to somebody like me and some other minds that are part of the draft of CRFFN, people like Ikokide, people like Chris Asoluka, Mfon Usoro , these where the people that packaged CRFFN and what it stands to achieve. I held meeting with the Vice President of FIATA, after that we went to Madueke, then the Minister of Transport, and that was how we began the machinery of setting up CRFFN as a body charged with the responsibility and control of freight forwarding practitioners in Nigeria. But most unfortunate our sister organization; ANLCA killed it, but I am happy that I am alive that ANLCA today has seen what they have done to themselves. Many of them are full of remorse and regret because CRFFN is what we have as freight forwarders, but ANLCA and NSC destroyed it. That is the truth and I stand to confront any persons who will say what I said is wrong.

But some members of ANLCA also said that NAGAFF was part of those who killed CRFFN, for instance, some believed that NAGAFF manipulated the election into the Council?

The council is about 15 chances, NAGAFF 6 members, ANLCA 6 members because of their capacity in terms of numbers, spread and all that. There are other small groups such as the NCMDLCA, ARRFN, and others that are given one slot, and they accepted willingly otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten any, and again you should have known that if we go by the status and standard of ANLCA, including ANLCA will not get any space because out if 1300 registered members of CRFFN, NAGAFF was holding 1100, so if we have gone for election, NAGAFF would have taken all the seats, but we didn’t do that, if ANLCA were to be in our position, it would have been “To your tent oh Israel ”. That was what happened at the earlier stage when they had 7 chances out of the 8 that we were given, and behold that was how CRFFN became an agent of the government because the first council leadership wanted to be like Director General of NIMASA or Executive Secretary of NSC or even MD of NPA, they were carrying their ID cards with coat of arm and official vehicles.

Which means you also agreed that CRFFN shouldn’t be a government agency?

It is not and it will never be, all this thing they are doing is time, time will tell; the CRFFN Act is there. Can you see what they have done now? The amendment of the Act, the things they want to amend, they are trying to go through the backdoor to amend those things, and these were the things that are still before the Court of Appeal that CRFFN is not an agency of the government, now they are going behind to do that, but the National Assembly are all wise men and we will be there. Of course, we have written a document and I am sure you know that the allocation of statutory fund is becoming a problem now based on what NAGAFF wrote, because government is rationalizing. Section 6 of the Act provided how the council can be funded, why are we going to the federation account to pick money when government didn’t pay for it.