By John Iwori

The immediate past Chairman of the Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN), Alhaji Hakeem Olanrewaju has attributed the challenges bedeviling the industry to poor qualification of the practitioners.

Speaking in an interview with THISDAY in Lagos, Olanrewaju said about 65 per cent of licensed customs agents in the country are holders of the West Africa School Certificate (WASC).

According to him, out of the over 5,000 practitioners that completed the registration process that was initiated by the CRFFN, 15 per cent have no certificates at all while five per cent are qualified based on long outstanding competence and experiences.

He also revealed that while 15 per cent of the agents are graduates, noting that not less than 85 per cent of them understand the nitty-gritty of the import clearance processes, hence they approach it in “most unprofessional manner.”

In the same vein, 55 per cent of the figure cannot describe, classify or understand cargo valuation principles which are key to the speedy clearance of goods in the nation’s seaports, airports and international land borders.

Olanrewaju, who is also the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Talod Oceanair Freight Limited, also disclosed that out of this figure, 67 per cent can hardly interpret official trade circulars professionally.

He, however, revealed that not less than 200 practitioners have availed themselves of the various opportunities aimed at empowering them through attending the mandatory professional training programme pursuance to CRFFN regulatory instituted standards.

He commended the Minister of Transportation, Right Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi for demonstrating “exemplary leadership, quality and strong political will” towards resolving some lingering crises in the maritime industry.
He specifically hailed him for directing all freight forwarders to register with the council within two weeks.

“This directive is the needed tonic, which we had craved for during the past administrative life of the CRFFN, but for obvious political patronage and compromises, the Council was denied this political push which has stalled its overall administrative excellence and performance.

“One should have expected that any reasonable professional association would be concerned with this anomaly but alas, parochial interest seems to override professional interest. It is on this premise that I want to appeal to all practitioners to set aside all ill-feelings and sense of ‘being wronged’ from any quarter and join hands with the Honourable Minister to revamp and strengthen our profession for posterity sake and our immediate collective well-being,” he said.

He appealed to the leaders of the various associations to bury the hatchet so that the council can attain the purpose it was established by the provisions of the CRFFN Act 2007.

His words: “I want to specially appeal to leaders of our associations, both accredited and non- accredited, to bury their hatchets and embrace professional glory and key into the window which the Honourable Minister and the National lawmakers are offering us, as part of the “Change Agenda” of the current government.

He threw his weight behind the National Assembly resolve to amend the Act establishing the council due to the issues that have unfolded in its implementation.