By Godwin Oritse
THE head of the compliance team of the National Association of Government Approval Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, has accused some corrupt officials among the government agencies and shipping service providers of waging a campaign of calumny against the team.
It would be recalled that NAGAFF inaugurated the team to monitor the compliance level of service providers with government’s Ease of Doing Business campaign at the ports. But the team which has visited some operators to oversight their compliance, has come under attacks by some stakeholders who regarded the oversight as illegal and a mere posturing.
But Tanko, while reacting to the attacks on the team, accused some people in the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, and the terminal operators whom he alleged are corrupt and unwilling to comply with the rules of engagement, as those behind these attacks.
He also accused some people in the freight forwarding industry, whom he described as irredeemably corrupt and thrive on circumventing the rules, as collaborating to frustrate efforts of the team. Tanko vowed that no amount of intimidation and blackmail can deter them in ensuring that all stakeholders play by the rules.
He disclosed that it was the repeated complaints and accusations by government agencies and terminal operators that freight forwarders are not compliant that made NAGAFF set up the team to self-audit themselves and whip erring members into line.
Tanko declared: “The government agencies have asked us to be compliant and play by the rules. That is what we are trying to achieve among our members. We have about 40 percent compliance level among our members and hope to get about 50 to 60 per cent by the end of the year. It is a gradual process.
“We are even organising a three-day seminar for members where we intend to further preach the gospel of compliance to them. After that, we shall focus on government agencies with whom we hope to interact on the issue of compliance for mutual understanding and cooperation. We have already written to the relevant ones to this effect.
“We have even engaged our principals who are the importers to made correct declarations. So if we decided to be compliant, the service providers should also be compliant by having the necessary capacity to do the job, by not overcharging us and by getting the necessary equipment. The officials of regulatory agencies like Customs, NAFDAC, SON and even Police should all play the game by its rules and stop their extortions.”
He blamed the Nigeria Shippers’ Council and the CRFFN for some of the problems of compliance, stressing: “We have written series of letters to the Council over the challenges of our members in the hands of these operators but they have done nothing. The CRFFN cannot claim ignorance of our problems because our members made up the bulk of the Council’s membership.”
He said that the team will not be deterred by the unwarranted attacks by those who he said are resisting changes in the industry, adding, “We are focused and determined to enforce compliance on our members and protest the non-compliance among the government agencies and service providers.”