Lists deliberate electoral gaps and fraudulent scripts
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
For the second time in two weeks, the Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON) has written an open letter to the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, intimating him of the concerns of the freight forwarding community regarding deliberate electoral booby traps and fault lines contained in the Notice of the forthcoming Election into the Governing Board of the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The group also accused Amaechi of official pretences and subtle support for the Electoral Committee appointed by him, clearing orchestrating perceived electoral illegalities and unprofessionalism in the conduct of the forthcoming election; boldly enshrined in the article of guidelines.
CREEPON described the composition of the electoral committee and its guidelines as preposterous channel for official manipulation of the electoral process, and urged the transportation minister to review all grey areas and allow for a credible, free and fair election; devoid of perceived ministerial and predetermined interests.
The group in addition, again protested the Abuja venue of the election, and urged the Minister to reconsider Lagos as a most suitable venue. As with its first letter, CREEPON condemned the high cost of nomination forms, the security implications of the Abuja venue, registration financial fraud, registration of non practitioners, electoral time frames etc.
The letter signed by CREEPON Desk Officer, Comrade Edwin Chukwudire Obi, called the minister’s attention to the illegal and clandestine extension of the immediate past Governing Board Members, whom the group alleged have continued to use and deploy the paraphernalia of office at their calls and becks, as a veritable means of not only usurping the electoral process, but invariably, using such avenue to manipulate the electoral process.
The group further called on Amaechi to excuse himself from these clandestine moves intended to rubbish the integrity of the forthcoming Governing Council Board election, by maintaining a neutral position, and by reviewing the composition of the electoral committee and guidelines as already established.
The group in its letter said, “Honorable Minister, the import of this second open letter is in keeping to commitment and consistent quest for preserving and upholding the professional ethos in relation to the conduct of professional election in no less a manner to be applauded and adjudged as transparent, free, fair and credible professional election.
“Pursuant to this commitment, the CREFFPON embarked on an industry monitoring with the intent to document and communicate effectively grey issues to engender administrative intervention, which shall at the long run enhance and guarantee a credible election.
“Honorable Minister, it may interest you to know that, within this short period of the issuance of this public notice as announced, the CREFFPON has observed the emergence of some unprofessional signals which are not just capable of posing threats but may smear the integrity of the electoral committee members cum the outcome of the entire election and subjecting the electioneering process into a disrepute.”
CREEPON in its letter observed the following grey areas:
- AN EXISTING GOVERNING COUNCIL CHAIRMAN BEFORE THE ELECTION:
“We observed that, the Ministry appears to have appointed a seating governing council chairman, as the immediate past governing council chairman whom incidentally was reappointed to represent the North West region was seen still cruising the CRFFN branded vehicles bequeathed to the office of the governing council chairman, thereby invariably parading himself as the governing council chairman.”
“The concerns expressed by the practitioners is that, if the paraphernalia of the office attached to the office a governing council chairman is presently at official use and convenience of an appointed politician, who made his way to emergence as the governing council chairman in 2018 during the internal election of the CRFFN Governing Council members, it means that a governing council chairman has been determined beforehand whereby the election of the practicing freight forwarders into the Governing Council is a mere formality.”
“Going by the ideal administrative provisions at the end of each tenure of the governing council , official vehicles allotted or assigned to designated members of the governing council are to be returned officially to the management team, but this is not the case as both the immediate past governing council chairman and designated council members stills uses their branded vehicles at their convenience, implying that their earlier insistence of a 4 years tenure and their open objections to the court ruling of 2 years tenure prevails, even as their re-elect soft copy posters trends virally in the industry social media platforms.”
The group expressed shock that these former officials are “Even campaigning with impunity ahead of the candidates screening and publications of qualified candidates’ lists by the electoral committee.”
“To state the obvious, in the eyes of the practitioners, the transparency of this electoral committee and the election itself is suspicious, judging from the above scenario, where the same ministry that constituted the electoral committee failed to administer or direct the needful. Here again, the implication of early appointment of the geopolitical representatives into the governing councils prior to the conduct of an election of the freight forwarders into the governing council, negatively plays out itself.”
2. ACCREDITED ASSOCIATION CLAIMS:
“One of the accredited associations boasted of winning 10 seats out of the 15 seats provided for the election contest, and has set aside a hundred million naira for the purpose of prosecuting its winning strategy. However, beyond this claims other associations and interested parties are suspicious of a possible internal behind-the-scene arrangement with the said association to the effect of being too assured of the 10 seats as it claims.”
“Equally, some of the accredited associations has since queued behind CREFFPON on its several intervention and demands from the Honorable Minister, ranging from the objections to the Abuja venue of the election to Lagos as a most suitable venue, the high cost of nomination forms, the security implications of the Abuja venue, the time frame for the execution of the election, etc.”
3. DEPLOYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP REGISTRATION TO THE HEADQUARTERS OFFICES OF THE ACCREDITED ASSOCIATIONS BY THE CRFFN (MINISTRY).
“The CREFFPON undertook an assessment of the ongoing registrations process at the various headquarters registration centres of some of the accredited associations and discovered as follows:
- Bulk payments are made to the provided account, and depleted as soon as the corresponding numbers of individual registrations is consummated, then another bulk payment will be made.
- Massive recruitment of non practitioners suspected to be streets urchins was observed leading to investigation of the registrations process.
- It was discovered that, no formal or any format of screening standards was integrated to the registrations process; the system is open to all persons of no particular recourse as no form of prerequisites for professional registrations is required.
- Ideally, a registration process into the Register of the Freight Forwarders entails either by professional academic qualifications or by letter of indemnity stating qualifications by practicing experience of at least 5 years written and signed by a Chief Executive Officer of a registered corporate firm with the CRFFN. Unfortunately, the present process presents an all comers affairs mainly tailored for an electioneering process objective and afterwards, the Register of Freight Forwarders soars up momentarily and later suffers statistics distortion, making it a two election year reoccurring rituals, with thousands later to be recorded as non yearly subscribers.
4. OBSERVATIONS ON THE ELECTORAL TIME TABLE AND GUIDELINES:
The CREFFPON observed that, in item Nos.3:ii of the election time table, the committee noted thus; “Screening of candidates from Western and Eastern Ports at Rock View Hotel, Apapa Lagos on 21st to 22nd September, 2021 from 10am to 4pm daily.
Screening of candidates from Cargo Airports/Land Borders at the FMOT’s conference room, 8th Floor, Abuja on Friday 24th September, 2021 by 10am to 4pm”.
“By virtue of this Screening Venue the CREFFPON is of the opinion that, this act is a subtle importation of a political division ( northern and southern dichotomy) in the Freight forwarding practice in negation of the intents, letters and character of Act 16 20087. This action further creates suspicion of the electioneering processes in the eyes and understanding of majority of the practitioners.”
To buttress its suspicions above, CREEPON further observed that in Item 5:iv of the Electoral Guidelines – with the caption, “Eligibility To Contest For Any Position “the committee stated thus:
“Pursuant to the provision of this act, all eligible persons must be elected based on the three operational zones as specified in section 2(1)(g) of the Act. In item nos. 5:v : “All other Registered Freight Forwarders that meets the above requirements from (i – iv) are eligible but only those cleared by the Electoral Committee are qualified to contest elections into the governing council “.
CREEPON expressed utmost shock at an additional clause contained in item 12 of the guidelines, in which the committee stated that “……..The decision of the Electoral Complaint Committee shall be final. No appeal shall be entertained “.
The group noted that above guidelines are clear undercurrents designed to emasculate free and fair election into the governing council board.
“Equally observed is that in the nomination form, the Committee carefully and deliberately omitted the inclusion in the nomination form the candidates choice of operational zones as specified in section 2(1)(g) of the Act.
“All of these further buttress the existing suspicions of a hatched political moves to returned the immediate past governing council members back to complete an erroneous conceived 4 years tenure, whereby suggesting that the electoral Committee seems to be executing an arranged script.”
The group therefore called on the transportation minister to allow for transparency in the election by undertaking a holistic review of all the grey areas already brought to his attention.
“Honorable Minister Sir, your urgent attention and intervention over critical concerns expressed by the practitioners cannot be over emphasized. Please help to save and preserve the sanctity of the Freight Forwarding profession in Nigeria.
“Above all, the need to douse all expressed suspicions is purely your administrative honor and responsibility.”