6:6:1:1:1: The FMOT Search for Legitimacy
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Perhaps, the ongoing legitimacy search by the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) to validate the Governing Board Election of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN ) vide a network of melodramatic political stunts remains the hardest official task that has confronted the ministry since 2019.
Neither did the fireworks associated with the attempted sack of the controversial but now rested Secured Anchorage Area (SAA) for cargo ocean liners, nor the contentious China Loan for Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), nor indeed, the physical attack on the former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Ms. Hadiza Usman at Apo Villa Abuja, allegedly by the erstwhile Chairman of OMSL, late Captain Hosea Okunbo, proved as challenging.
Challenging, in respect of perceived utter uselessness of the 6:6:1:1:1 rogue sharing formula, to add any value to the core objectives of the ministry. For a long time already, the Accredited Member Associations, which can be likened to the five leprous fingers of the CRFFN, have engaged in unholy and unremitting plots to foist the 6:6:1:1:1 agenda down the throat of bonafide Corporate Members of the CRFFN; albeit through the tacit support of the supervising FMOT.
The convoluted plot has sought to, via barefaced rascality by some interested parties, disregarded the constitutional existence of the Registered Corporate Members of CRFFN, and also sought to arrogate and aggregate vote win using the above formula to access the 15-member Governing Board Council seat.
However audacious and spiteful their primitive moves, a number of concerned freight forwarders acting individually and in some cases, collectively, have stood up to challenge the arrogance of the 6:6:1:1:1 peddlers, which has resulted more than three weeks electoral stalemate.
It would however appear that the ministry is not relenting in the effort to provide some political framework to validate the inglorious plot; going be concerns that the ministry is unduly kowtowing to acts of lawlessness and brigandage supposedly being exhibited by the camp of those vigorously fronting as the Accredited Member Associations.
From all indication, whereas the so-called Accredited Member Associations is an umbrella body which comprise of any registered corporate member who voluntarily so subscribes, certain individuals have taking it upon themselves to play the emperor by arrogating to themselves the power to decide who is part of the Accredited Member Associations, irrespective of evidences to the contrary.
That the Ministry and CRFFN has remained seemingly seated on the fence in view of these violations, further suggests a vicarious hatching of official complicity in the darkening cloud of electoral miscarriage.
Amongst industry groups that have alerted the ministry to the ulterior narrow mindedness of the 6:6:1:1:1 is the Congregation of Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON) and African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and logistics in Nigeria (APFFLON). These groups have repeatedly and individually appealed to the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, not to fall into the dangerous snare laid on his path and the path of the Ministry.
The groups have presented the rules and facts contained in the CRFFN Act to convince the minister that those canvassing the 6:6:1:1:1 sharing formula were out to serve themselves, and will not stop at achieving such aims through crook or hook.
So far, the most the supervising ministry has done was to put the election date on hold, even as it asked all parties to resolve their differences and come up with a common position. This approach however appears weak and farfetched as all the contending parties have stuck to their positions.
What is expected from the FMOT is the King Solomon effective justice principle approach, which requires exposing the tort or existential mechanism to the rigours of truth; universally adjudged as an unfailing anvil of justice.
Thus, since the whole struggle exhibited in the Governing Board Council election is about money, including and especially monies expected from the controversial Practitioners Operating Fee (POF), the ministry should adapt the TSA revenue collection model for the collection of POF; since in all intent and purposes, the POF is a federal government revenue.
This according to the immediate past National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, will curtail the craze currently being exhibited to have control of the Governing Council through unlawful machinations.
“It is an aberration for greedy Association Leaders to ride on the back of Government to enrich themselves. Let the MOT direct total POF collection to be paid into the TSA and you’ll see a sudden disinterest in the Council election. “
He further argued that if the ministry is desirous of a credible election into the CRFFN Governing Council, it should uphold the rules of the game as explicitly laid out by the Act.
Other industry titans that have openly condemned and described the obnoxious sharing formula as satanic is Aare Hakeem Olaranwaju and Godfrey Nwosu . Olarewaju who was the pioneer CRFFN Council Chairman also appealed to the Minister of Transportation and Permanent Secretary to desist from conceding unmerited attention to those canvassing illegalities through threads of obsession; and to assert its authority to defend the CRFFN Act.
He lamented that the ongoing show of power by the leadership of some of the accredited associations is gaining space because the ministry may have failed to demonstrate the required capacity to do the right thing.
Aare Olarewaju also appealed that the Minister and Perm Sec should summon the courage to break the wind of intimidation and assert their authority to ensure that the council election does not end up a charade.
Yet, another concerned freight forwarder expressed sadness that so far, the CRFFN appear to be solely interested in money, power and influence, with little or no consideration for industry growth or the professional development and capacity building of practitioners.
He said, “It is sad for us to be regularly troubled by this CRFFN conundrum without updating us with consumer impact index. CRFFN is a product as far as I am concerned, it is developed to organize, educate, stream line and regulate the practice of freight forwarding in Nigeria. The above is the overt reason the Council act of 2007 came into being.
“Unfortunately, the business of freight forwarding in Nigeria is the least organized, not streamlined, poorly educated and least regulated. The council has been operating since 2008 when the first council elections were held. From then till now we forwarders in the field only hear or read CRFFN from the pages of news paper. Intermittent calls for renewal fees and regular squabbles for operational practicing fees which we consider duplication of charges.
“Associations act arbitrarily, shipping and terminal operators are arbitrary in operations, service providers are derelict in their service provisions. Even regulatory and security agencies overbearing attitude are never in check.
“The freight forwarders hardly have any impact of CRFFN. It seems an elitè freight forwarding club where the big boys go to show strengths and probably share some booties accruing there from.”
Since the council election stalemate, it would appear that the ministry have been searching for straws to hang unto as a basis to legitimize the narrow orchestrations of those threatening fire and brimstone, and through it, probably confer legitimacy on the fraudulent electoral process and the electoral outcome arising from it; driven unfortunately by power and money mongers, which been products of Machiavellian crafts is inconsistent with the CRFFN Act.