At Shittu’s colloquium, Sarumi seeks strict adherence to CRFFN Act
BY FRANCIS EZEM
Former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Chief Adebayo Sarumi has made a strong case for the strict implementation of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria CRFFN Act 2007. He blamed the continuous domination of this segment of the maritime industry on the non -adherence to the spirit and letters of the CRFFA Act.
Sarumi, who chaired the colloquium organised in honour of former national President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu to mark his 68th birthday and formal presentation of his book entitled: ’Biography of Nigeria’s top Customs Broker’, which held in Lagos, observed that the primary motive behind the enactment of the act was to change the public perception of the freight forwarders and customs brokerage agents and also unite them.
He however regretted that more than 10 years after the coming on stream of the legislation and the eventual creation of the CRFFN, the cardinal objectives have yet to be achieved, as these practitioners, who ought to be well respected professionals in the supply chain have remained with the old perception, a development that make foreigners dominate the business.
The former NPA-boss further regretted that the extreme unionism that has characterised this unit of the maritime industry has further deepened the division among the practitioners, who ought to come together under the CRFFN Act and speak with one voice through strict adherence to the Act to the benefit of all.
He said: “Since the CRFFN Act was enacted, how many of you have gone to take professional degrees in Supply Chain Management? This does not necessarily mean that you must have to go back to school because some of you may be close to my age, but you can hire qualified people to run the businesses for you.
Prince Olayiwola Shittu
“I am also not happy about the extreme unionism that characterise the freight forwarding or customs brokerage business in Nigeria, you have the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders NAGAFF, the Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents NCMDLCA and the ANLCA, and so many others, which are mostly formed due to personality clashes.
“I stand to be corrected; the CRFFN was conceived first and foremost within the building of the Nigerian Shippers, and there were aims and objectives that gave rise to the conception of the council, which have yet to be achieved. It is high time now you people dropped your clannishness, egotism, pride and selfishness and allow the CRFFN Act to work”.
Sarumi, who was also a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Shippers Council before his redeployment to NPA to execute the port privatisation programme, insisted that it was because the lingering wrong perception of the customs brokerage agents and freight forwarders that big time importers and multinational companies refused to not give them their consignments to clear, which is not good for Nigeria’s economy.
“None of you handles project cargo both for the government or big private companies because of their perception that you lack the capacity and capability to handle them and so many of you rely on the clearance of single units of containers while foreign freight forwarders handle all the project cargo.
“Part of the aims and objectives of enacting the CRFFN Act and creating the council to regulate the profession was to indigenise the business just like what is obtained in some neighbouring African countries including the Republic of Benin, where foreigners are not allowed to get into a certain point at the seaports or terminals, which must be handled by the citizens”, Sarumi also said.
He further regretted that efforts by some few practitioners and experts such as Shittu to put things right were sabotaged by others through the proliferation of associations and unions, which have over the years worked against the collective interest of all stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Shittu while speaking at the well -attended event, thanked stakeholders for trouping out in their large numbers to honour him, pledging to offer his advice to industry practitioners even in retirement.
In attendance at the event was Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director of Sarz Group, Engr. Greg Ogbueifun, President of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria STOAN, Princess Vicky Hastruup and scores of freight forwarding practitioners, among several others.