Stakeholders call for probe of BPP DG
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Barely a week after the Minister of Transportation, Engr. Muazu Sambo directed the stoppage of attempts to commence the processes of moving the head office of the Governing Council of the Council of Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN, to Abuja, by the Governing Council, the minister again on Thursday reiterated his earlier position when he denied ever giving consenting to the proposed move.
The minister who was fielding questions from maritime reporters dismissed as rumour reports that he has directed otherwise, noting that the status quo remains. “I did not approve the movement of the CRFFN office from Lagos to Abuja, the issue is being looked into. So as far as the matter is concerned, it is rumour like you rightly stated.”
Meanwhile, concerned stakeholders have called for the probe of Mamman Ahmadu, the Director General of the Bureau for Public Procurement for allegedly aiding to fuel the CRFFN leadership crisis, through alleged official subterfuge and compromise.
It will be recalled that the two leadership arm of the CRFFN, the Governing Council and Management have been locked in cold war over the purchase of a two storey property located at Lekki Lagos, which went rumpus half way; as the Governing Council kicked against the purchase of the N800million property, while at the same time proposed that the Council’s property in Abuja be used as head office.
While the Governing Council argued that the value of the property was inflated, it set up a committee to investigate the purchase which came up with a report that the said property was not worth more than N350m.
This is however despite that the purchase reportedly passed through the Ministerial Tenders Board, in addition to the approval of the BPP, conveyed in its Letter of No Objection to the proposed property purchase.
Reacting, sources in the management claimed that the governing council changed its mind after some of its members allegedly demanded for a share of the surplus N500million, which our sources said was rebuffed.
Sadly, amid the leadership squabble, the BPP last week reportedly wrote the supervising Federal Ministry of Transportation, purportedly withdrawing the approval it earlier conveyed in its Letter of No Objection to the Council Registrar, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu.
Grapevine report informed that in the withdrawal of the ‘Letter of No Objection’ signed by BPP Director General, Mamman Ahmadu and addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani dated September 22 2022, the BPP said its action was informed by the discovery that the Council Registrar misled the Agency into issuing the approval.
Concerned stakeholders have however urged the presidency to investigate the action of the BPP to determine the immediate and remote causes for its actions, which they described as a national embarrassment, as well as an embarrassment to the government.
A maritime practitioner and President of the All Ports Unified Freight Forwarding Practitioners Association, Chief Mike Okorie who fired the first salvo, said it is strange for BPP to claim to have discovered anomalies in a certificate already issued by it.
“If BPP is saying it realized that information supplied it by the council management was found to be untrue, it means that BPP didn’t carry out necessary due diligence. But if you are familiar with what is going at the council, it’s a fight between money bags and power mongers, the whole problem is centred on money, and money is talking.
“It will be an insult for somebody like me to buy BPP story, something must have happened along the line, everybody involved including BPP should be proved; that is the only way to get out of this quagmire.”
While it is hoped that the minister’s latest assurance that the matter is being ‘looked into’ would settle the matter shortly and reign in its officials believed to have been involved in the CRFFN gang fight, more importantly, the minister should endeavour to get personally involved in order to be able to provide a clear direction.
Already freight forwarders and stakeholders have expressed dismay about proposition to take the head office of the CRFFN to Abuja, while head offices of other maritime agencies are all located in Lagos for ease of proximity and ease of doing business.
According to Okorie, while the argument by the board that money will be saved for other pressing demands by using the Abuja property sounds attractive, it does not actually promote the purpose for which the council was established, which is to cater for freight forwarders in broad perspective.
“It is true that many agencies have their head offices in Abuja, but you also know that no maritime agency is operating from Abuja, they are here, Lagos. For me the position of this board is self serving and face saving.”
Other stakeholders have also called on the minister to remain apolitical, call both the board and the management team to order; and order for the search of a new property located within Apapa or Marina Lagos; which will serve its purposes without further complaints.
It is also the view of other stakeholders that Sambo should ensure that while the governing council concentrates on policy issues of freight forwarding regulations, and maybe the collection of practitioners operating fee, POF, the management should focus on training, running of the secretariat and general administration.