A former Chairman of the Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Alhaji Hakeem Olanrewaju has frowned at what he alleged as the bloated 2021 budget of the Council, even as he alleged further that the huge budget is an inducement for corruption.
According to him, budgets such as this is the main reason many freight forwarders always jostle to be elected into the council as members.
In a press statement which he issued as a reaction to the 2021 budget of the CRFFN which earmarked about N2.94Billion for capital projects, the ex-chairman said the current budget of the Council was a far cry from the paltry budget of between N200Million and N250Million which the pioneer governing council operated with.
Reeling out achievements of the Council under his watch, Alhaji Olanrewaju said that, with the little at the disposal of the CRFFN at that time, it was able to recruit staff and pay salaries, purchase official vehicles and carry out capacity buildings, among other programmes.
He added that with the low budget, the council was able to formalize membership of FIATA, rent offices across the zones with head offices rented in Lagos and Abuja.
He alleged that the huge budget of the Council, especially for 2021, was orchestrated by the government, even as he alleged that the government was encouraging corrupting among freight forwarders who are members of the council; who will want to enjoy an over-bloated budget
According to him, it is for this reason that many freight forwarders fight tooth and nail to be in the governing council of the CRFFN.
“Approximately the amount used to kick start the administrative life of the CRFFN between the year 2008 to 2012 (of the first and second Governing Council) is in the average of #200m to #250m”, he said.
“Let me shock you by saying that, the Government is massively corrupting the leadership of the freight forwarders cum the Practitioners, doing so in an obvious subtle manner aka over inflated project contracts and elephant projects”
“Consequently, the practitioners now find it much rewarding and most profitable to do everything humanly possible to get elected into the Governing Council rather than face its Professional Practices”
“This growing trends is dangerous and a professional albatross has to be stopped”
“It is disheartening to note that, 12 years after the registration of the CRFFN with the umbrella body, the FIATA, what we can point to the International body, who had concluded a trained the trainer program, followed by the accreditation of Professional training institutions across the geo Political Zones of the Nation, is an endless ongoing projects of the CRFFN”, he said.
But, when contacted, Registrar of the CRFFN; Barrister Sam Nwakohu said he would rather not join issues with the former Chairman of the Council.
The Registrar however explained that, “every year, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government draw up budget estimates, which covers capital and recurrent expenditure”, he added that “what the CRFFN did was to table its requests before the National Assembly, which in its wisdom approved what it believed was appropriate to run the Council and also meet its obligations, both in terms of capital and recurrent expenditure”.
“Let us also bear it in mind that, most of the projects in the Council’s budget for 2021 are ongoing projects”, he said.
He also added that, “the federal government has no money to give anyone or for anyone to use anyhow, the perception that budgets are always padded is wrong and quite unfortunate”.
“A lot of people don’t know that, the fact that a budget is approved does not automatically translate to release of funds for those projects”
“What is in the public domain is the budget for 2021, no one has padded anything, there is no need for alarm, the government is even looking for money from everywhere, and it is not throwing money at anyone carelessly”, he added, even as he called for contributions that will move the industry forward.
“We must also not lose consciousness of the fact that, the size of the CRFFN today is bigger, both in terms of manpower and other things, inflation has also eaten into the value of Naira between 2008, 2012 and now. The council has grown exponentially since 2008”.
“If we are talking about using N200Million in 2008, what is the rate of inflation between then and now, what is the size and commitment of the CRFFN between then and now”, he said.
He also disclosed that the 2021 budget is the first time since the creation of the CRFFN that there will be specific provision for training of freight forwarders.
“This is the first time that there is a budget line for training of freight forwarders, we argued this provision at the National Assembly until they conceded”, he disclosed, and added that all the projects provided for in the 2021 budget are on-going projects.