By Kenneth Jukpor
The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has urged the Director General, National Agency for Food, Drug Adminstration and Council (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye to instruct representatives at ports to desist from collecting bribes.
APFFLON National President, Mr. Frank Ogunojemite made this call during a chat with MMS Plus newspaper even as he expressed shock that NAFDAC debunked reports that there were loopholes in the agency’s online portal which has created a leeway for extortion of freight forwarders who visit NAFDAC headquarters to resolve the issues.
He lamented that NAFDAC officials at the ports have become agents inhibiting speedy cargo clearance as they demand colossal figures as bribe during examination of products requiring NAFDAC presence.
Ogunojemite also argued that the new NAFDAC boss would have been informed about these sharp practices if she ever visited the ports or organized workshops to engage the freight forwarders who carry out clearance of cargoes NAFDAC frequently intercept.
His words: “The NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye has not visited the seaports since her appointment, talk less of stakeholders engagement. She needs to rise up and come out to the port sector. She has the academic knowledge required for the job but she also needs to understand the operations at the ports. She needs to understand the physical, emotional and monetary implications of NAFDAC activities at the ports.”
According to him such regular interface with stakeholders would avail the agency better feedback mechanisms to carry out their regulatory functions.
“Look at Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), among others at the ports. They place so much emphasis on stakeholders’ engagement and that is why there are frequent meetings, strategic sessions and trainings organized by the agencies. The heads of these agencies also go the ports to see how viable the process they set-up performs.”
“NSC, NPA, CRFFN and other port agencies made themselves available to form a Maritime Task Team working assiduously to ensure port processes thrived during the lockdown. Where was NAFDAC at that critical time,” he queried.
He further assured that APFFLON’s earlier comments on the loopholes in NAFDAC online portal were based on the realities confronting port users as the association was playing its advocacy role to ensure NAFDAC attains efficient service delivery to port stakeholders.
According to him, APFFLON and other freight forwarding practitioners will take solace with the fact that the public outcry prompted NAFDAC to publish the long episode that conveyed critical information and guidelines for its operations.
He said the association expected NAFDAC to assure stakeholders that they would correct the challenges in their online portal and speedily address the loopholes to prevent the extortion that occurs when freight forwarders have to go to their offices to resolve issues.
“APFFLON is made up of responsible and patriotic Nigerians who have no reason whatsoever to run any individual or organization down, but we stick to verifiable facts. We will continue to do what is needful and will neither allow intimidation nor cheap blackmail to stand in our way. We must continue to come up with verifiable facts before raising a voice against any individual, group of people or organizations that want to jeopardize the Ease of Doing Business, or sit back to watch freight forwarders impoverished due to the inefficiency or lackadaisical attitudes of public servants in government agencies,” he added.