•Canvasses less Government involvement in Council
Minister of Transportation; Mr Rotimi Amaechi has officially inaugurated the new Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) with a directive that it is only the Council that has powers to collect any dues from the port.
Amaechi stated this yesterday at the inauguration ceremony which took place at the Ministry of Transportation in Abuja.
He said that investigation is ongoing to determine the extent of money that have so far been collected by the various freight forwarding associations, even as he threatened to set the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after them if they fail to refund the money.
The minister also noted that ideally, the CRFFN by its design was not meant to be controlled by the government. He advocated that Government presence should be reduced and that practitioners who know what the business is about should be allowed to take charge of the CRFFN.
Amaechi assured that he would be meeting with the Comptroller General of Customs to ensure that anyone seeking issuance of customs license is registered with the CRFFN.
On the allegation that freight forwarding associations were collecting money in the guise of practicing fees, the Minister said: "I am hearing that some people are collecting money and putting it in their pockets, I will not accept that, it is this agency that is supposed to do this and not the freight forwarders, now that we have set it up today, as from today it starts its full functions and discharges its functions. So nobody can collect any money anymore, I have directed NPA not to allow any of you unless such is a member of this Council".
The minister stressed that the associations are not known by law, they are only recognised by virtue of freedom of association, and that this does not allow them to act on behalf of government to collect practicing fees.
"Did the President appoint you? It is only the President that appoints whoever collects government money"
"So, you are owing us, if this people come out and present the amount of money you have collected illegally, we would write you to refund the money, and if you refuse, I will go to cabinet to give me power and allow EFCC come after you, pray that they don't come at all. Don't collect federal government money, allow them to collect by themselves" he said.
Speaking on the laws setting up the CRFFN, Amaechi said, "t is a bit confusing, the law tries to make you a private organisation, so what is the business of government in it?”
"Presently, it is nearly 60 percent government. I don't know who would be next Minister for Transportation, if I were him; the first thing to do is reduce government involvement in the Council. As it is now, if I call the government appointees aside now we would get the chairman and vice chairman because we have the vote and the number, he told the Council members.
"Government’s presence should be reduced and leave the practitioners who know what the business is about to do the job, that is the right thing to do because it is not a government company per say"
"However, the money you want to collect is government money. If it is privately run with little government presence, the money should be shared 70 percent for private and 30 for government. But if the Council is government- operated, then government owns all the money and can only give you 20 percent and you would have no say", he declared.
"But government cannot run such venture, maybe I should have given this Council more attention and made sure that we make these changes, go to the National Assembly and make the amendments for you people. Since I didn't do it, whoever is taking over from me, I would advise him to do this", he said.
In his acceptance speech, the new Chairman of the CRFFN, Abubakar Tsanni assured that the Governing Council is ready to work with the Minister. He pledged that as a retired military officer, his loyalty remains for the Minister.
Abubakar also assured that the Council is swinging into action with immediate effect and that by first week of December 2018, it would brief the minister on the successes recorded so far.