Conducting CRFFN election in Abuja will disfranchise many freight forwarders, CREFFPON tells Minister

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation

The Congregation of Registered Freight Forwarding Practitioners of Nigeria (CREFFPON) has argued that conducting the election into the Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) on Saturday 9th October 2021, at the National Women Centre in Abuja, will disfranchise majority of freight forwarders.

CREFFPON said  “Honorable Minister (Transportation), we opine that it is not both administrative, economic, and security-friendly to move 95% of over 4000 registered freight forwarders from their operational base of Western and Eastern ports to Abuja. It is an excerpt for a clandestine administrative move to disfranchise majority of the practitioners.”

The CREFFPON’s argument was contained in a protest letter addressed to the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi. The letter was signed by its Administrative Officer, Comrade Edwin Chukwudire Obi who made a copy of the letter available to PortNews in Lagos.

CREFFPON argued further that the timing of collection and submission of nomination forms within ten days is too short and capable of scheming out or shortchanging interested and legible practitioners from exercising their legitimate rights to vote and be voted for.

It added that the electoral guidelines only stressed the accreditation of candidates and display of contestants’ list between 7 and 8 October 2021 but failed to mention the display of the names of eligible registered forwarders or corporate firms to vote in the election.     

“Honorable Minister, we observed that the said public notice did not mention nor stress on the “display of the names of eligible registered freight forwarders or corporate firms to vote in the election as contains in the register of freight forwarders”, especially in the context of the limited time frame for the organization and execution of the election,” the congress stated.

CREFFPON argued further in other parts of the letter thus:

Sir, permit to allude that, from our confidence oral interactions and findings within the ministry, the claims or reasons that was posited to have informed this decision, which is that,  the total number of currently updated and eligible freight forwarders on the Register of Freight Forwarders (RFF) stands at 4686 individual and 1425 corporate.

Wherefore, against the background of a high number of eligible voters, expected at the election venue, was slated for Abuja, as a technical and security arrangement to limit and ensure effective crowd control and success of the election.

Honorable Minister, this posited reasons or excuse for the shift of election venue to Abuja is neither here nor there because there are several ways of using the electoral guidelines to checkmate crowd control, other than exposing the majority of the Practitioners to numerous risks ranging from flight and travel risks, especially under serious national insecurity threats; extraordinary expenditures, health risks, etc.

Wherefore, against the background of a high number of eligible voters, expected at the election venue, was slated for Abuja, as a technical and security arrangement to limit and ensure effective crowd control and success of the election.

Honorable Minister, this posited reasons or excuse for the shift of election venue to Abuja is neither here nor there because there are several ways of using the electoral guidelines to checkmate crowd control, other than exposing the majority of the Practitioners to numerous risks ranging from flight and travel risks, especially under serious national insecurity threats; extraordinary expenditures, health risks, etc.

To say the least, freight forwarders have not forgotten in a hurry their past experience with the first median election into the Governing Council, midwifed by the Nigeria Shippers Council in 2008 was not only rigged but witnessed the import of school children and streets urchin with luxurious buses into the election venue Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on the morning of the election day.

The aftermath of that election created room for fundamental administrative misgivings, subsequently.

In view of this, we solicit your attention and urgent intervention on this aspect of our concern.

Honorable Minister, please note that in item 3. vii states that, ” Payment and Collection of Nomination Form” – here again, the form collection process entails the payment of #500,000:00 into the CRFFN Single Treasury Account and the presentation of bank payment receipt to the designated centres before the nomination form will be released and subsequently a “guideline for the conduct of the election would be given to candidates at that point.”

In view of this, we consider the act of non-publication of the electoral guidelines accompanying this public notice as a conceived deliberate act factored not on utmost good fate.

To say the least, it is a calculated rip-off on the part of the committee. It is not ideal, to first collect a nonrefundable payment of N500,000:00 for an interested Practitioners, and upon accessing or collecting of the electoral guidelines, having effected payment to discover that he or she is not eligible to contest.

Such an approach is crooked and can be termed as daylight rip-off of the freight forwarders. To be emphatic, this crooked approach has the tendencies to cast credibility questions and possibly engender litigations arising therefrom.

Honorable Minister, from the previous elections experiences, the rate of obtaining nomination form at a high cost as #500,000:00 has always posed serious representation challenges on the part of elected freight forwarders, who subsequently upon being sworn into the Governing Council, firstly think of how to recoup the money spent during the election, thereby leading to poor representation of the Practitioners in the long run.

Honorable Minister, sir, it is in the strength of these enumerated concerns that we write to solicit your attention and urgent intervention, so as to save the integrity of our profession cum professional election.

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