The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) was birthed in 2007 to regulate freight forwarding activities in Nigeria. It is part of the efforts of the Federal Government to increase efficiency, transparency and value in running the country.
Even at this, with new developments in the Council, expect a messier crisis of confidence involving the Board, some ministry’s top officials and the stakeholders, soon.
CRFFN is governed by the CRFFN Act No. 16 2007 and it’s a mandatory organization for persons, organisations and associations involved with freight forwarding in Nigeria.
The vision of the outfit is to become Nigeria’s leading transport voice committed to the development of a modern globally competitive freight forwarding system in the country while the mission pledged that the council is dedicated to achieving sustainable economic development in the national interest through responsible transport initiatives in freight forwarding development and management.
Having existed for fifteen years, CRFFN has had quite a handful of Chief Executive Officers to pilot the vision and mission to reality. The current Registrar, Chief Executive Officer, Sam Nwakohu was appointed in 2019 to replace Sir Mike Jukwe, the pioneer Registrar of CRFFN.
Despite having promises of bettering the lots of freight forwarders and indeed the maritime Industry ,CRFFN has remained a far cry from the huge expectations that heralded its establishment fifteen years ago.
The Council has been bedeviled with myriads of controversies mostly bothering on corruption and mismanagement.
Its Registrar, has witnessed barrages of accusations ranging from financial impropriety, certificate scandal and abuse of office amongst others. Top on the list is the now halted controversial purchase of N800 million headquarters Office complex for the Council at Lekki,Lagos without approval of the governing Council ,even when the board had earlier approved the payment and acquisition of another headquarters property in Abuja for which contract had been signed and the sum of N 343,090,014.18 paid as 15 per cent mobilisation fee and consultancy services to the contractor.
Apart from this, the embattled Registrar has also been involved in the embarrassing incidence of diversion and warehousing of the total sum of N1,013,670,259,since 2022 by the management.
Stunned by these allegations ,the Governing Council Board of CRFFN,has had to issue the Registrar queries on four different occasions and consequently demanded for the Registrar’s resignation.
As the” anointed”son of the former Minister of Transportation,Rotimi Amaechi,the CRFFN Registrar has survived several moves to remove him from office ,but the former transport minister had craftily used tactics and diplomacy to extend his stay, even running the Council as a sole administrator for a year.This would not have happened had the Permanent Secretary,Dr.Magdalene Ajani had her way,for she had wanted to remove the Registrar based on the allegations against him.
As Nwakaohu’s reign as the Registrar of CRFFN gradually winds down,his score card in his four years stint with the Council has become a subject of discussion in the industry,moreso when his path is fraught with controversies.
The Council, according to stakeholders has failed to initiate sustainable and pragmatic strategies to move the practice of freight forwarding beyond what it is currently.
For instance, the Council has not been able to stamp its authority as a regulatory body to position the freight forwarding profession on the part of sustainable growth. The Council has not been able to address so many challenges the freight forwarders have been facing in the profession particularly issues bothering on trade facilitation amongst others.
There has not being any intervention moves by the Council to alleviate the sufferings of freight forwarders.Freight forwarders believe that the Council rather than protect their interest,is more tilted to wards the protection of government.
This perhaps explains why stakeholders have called for the separation and independent existence of the Council from the Transportation Ministry in order for it to concentrate on its role of regulating freight forwarding practice and curb some noticeable anomalies in the profession.
The comatose state of the CRFFN, has made it ineffective and unable to provide the necessary leadership direction needed as a regulatory body to curtail the excesses of charlatans in the industry.
Even with less two months left for the incumbent Registrar ,Sam Nwakaohu to hand over the baton to another , stakeholders have began to agitate for the Registrar to embark on compulsory leave to pave the way for a new successor.
A cursory look at the four years of the present leadership of the council,shows a council that is still seeking for relevance in the scheme of things with a baggage of court cases against it.
As the clock ticks for the Registrar,one hopes that whoever that will take over from him must find a way to reposition the Council so it can actually drive the original purpose for which it was created in the first place.
Just like the Nigeria Bar Association Medical Association of Nigeria(MAN),Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria(ICAN)to name but a few. CRFFN must strive to stand and function as an independent body from the ministry of transportation. Anything less would amount to moving round a circus.
For the freight forwarding profession to thrive,it must be backed up by a strong regulatory council headed by a professional in the industry who understands the challenges and intricacies associated with the profession.
Anything less would still leave the Council with failed dreams and expectations.