Freight Forwarders Should Not See Themselves As Unionists But Professionals, Says Hassan Bello

By Bisi Akingbade 

Freight forwarders have been told to always see themselves as professionals and should carry themselves as so in the course of discharging their very essential duty, the former Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello has advised.

The former NSC boss who was the Chairman at the 24th Year Anniversary/Award Ceremony of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders NAGAFF, on Friday at Apapa, Lagos maintained that freight forwarders are professionals whose job is very essential to the nation as they occupy a strategic position in the economy.

Because of the importance of their profession to the economy, he enjoined them to be more focused on their job and not see themselves as trade unionists who carry association matters on their heads.

Bello advised that freight forwarders should not be involved so much in association matters but  focus on their job as professionals.

 He frowned at some freight forwarders who are in the habit of wanting to shut down the ports over operational issues that should be talked over as professionals. 

 He restated that freight forwarders should see themselves as professionals who should be ensuring that the ports are open and not trade unionists who clamour for closure of ports each time there's an issue.

 He declared without mincing words  that freight forwarders are very indispensable as they occupy a strategic position in the nation's economy.

He charged them to always think big and not be too much involved in association matters.

He described association as just a means to an end and not a means in itself and therefore enjoined them to give more time to their profession.

He further charged freight forwarders to develop themselves educationally through training and retraining.

In his address of welcome, the National President of NAGAFF, Chief Emmanuel Tochukwu Ezisi called on the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Nigerian Shippers Council,  NSC, and other relevant government agencies to make Nigerian ports more efficient and competitive with global standards especially under the current African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, in order to attract more ship calls from the region.

Ezisi stated that if Nigerian ports must remain competitive to attract more cargo flow in the region, NPA, NSC, NCS and others have to check the inefficiencies in the ports and Customs operation.

The President highlighted some features of inefficiency manifesting in port operations as the following:
"Poor quality of services at the port which is key to operational efficiency;
"Port charges, arbitrary hike in duty and terminal charges indirectly affects  port operational efficiency;
"Illlegal activities of non-state actors within and around the port's terminals;
"Proliferation of agencies contribute to cargo clearing delays; and
"Challenges faced by truck drivers in accessing terminal gate and loading.
He maintained that NAGAFF in its 24 years of existence has contributed immensely to the national economy.

According to him, the association has immensely contributed to Nigeria's Gross Domestic Product, GDP, through adequate payment of duties, levies and Practitioners Operating Fees, POF, accrued to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Ezisi noted that NAGAFF trade facilitation and 100% Compliance units were designed to enhance growth in national economy by checking anti-trade facilitation activities at the ports.
The national president said that the association contributes greatly to capacity building of the nation's workforce through its accredited NAGAFF Academy.

He added that the presence of its members business operations within and around the port areas and border stations in Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Katsina and Kano States has added so much value to those areas through employment generation which has reduced social vices and insecurity.

In his speech, the founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Okechukwu Aniebonam, said that he founded the association in order to liberate freight forwarders from oppression.

He disclosed that he single handedly sponsored the Council for the Registration of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN, in his bid to professionalize  the job.

Aniebonam noted that many of his colleagues who opposed the bill later benefited from it. 

 The founder stated that though CRFFN may not be working as it should now but he was optimistic that it would achieve its original purpose in the near future. 

The founder said that old age is setting in and that he has stopped wearing face caps for red caps which signifies senior citizenship in Igbo land.

He urged the young ones following him to brace up and take full charge of the association, adding that, "I am going out of the scene. Age is setting in." 

On her part, the Acting Registrar, CRFFN, Mrs. Chinyere Uromta congratulated NAGAFF at 24 and commended it for building capacity in the maritime industry through training and retraining of its members.

She urged the association not to relent in its efforts to get its members educated and more knowledgeable in the profession.

The registrar stated that the CRFFN on its part is working to get the freight forwarding practice professionalized, urging freight forwarders to continue to support the council.

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