By Chidi Anthony Opara, FIIM
Principal officers of the Council For The Regulation Of Freight Forwarding In Nigeria (CRFFN) were again recently quoted by the news media as threatening to deregister freight forwarders without "minimum qualification" needed to practice the profession.
No sane person would have complained if CRFFN had restricted itself to setting up minimum qualification for entry into the freight forwarding profession in Nigeria. The problem here is that CRFFN is setting up minimum (entry) qualification for already registered professionals (not provisionally registered).
This current action of CRFFN in setting up minimum (entry) qualification for already registered professionals betrays a shallow understanding of the provisions of the CRFFN establishment act (act 16 of 2007) or a deliberate attempt to twist the spirit and letter of the provision of the act as regards who can practice the profession.
For the avoidance of doubts, what CRFFN showcases as minimum (entry) qualification is a less than one month crash program it runs in collaboration with the University of Lagos, which at least one illiterate is known to have passed out from. Noteworthy is the fact that after more than ten years of existence, CRFFN could only graduate forty(40) persons from this crash program. It should also be noted that the crash program costs nearly half a million naira and it is not conducted at all locations where freight forwarders practice.
CRFFN according to the news media publications, relies on section 4 of the CRFFN act for its aforementioned impending action. This section (section 4) being relied upon should not be read in isolation of section 13(1)D and F(see also section 20(1)). The provisions on section 4 are for new entrants.
Having fully registered a practitioner, the deregistering of such practitioner must follow the provisions on section 22(1).
It is imperative however for the CRFFN as a professional regulatory body to design (in collaboration with seasoned professionals as consultants, not with academicians)and enable a continuous professional development program in which already registered professionals must participate in and earn points. A prescribed minimum number of points in a year enables a practitioner to continue practising. Failure to attain that prescribed minimum points would have the practitioner suspended from practice until the prescribed minimum points are attained.
This is in keeping with the Professional regulatory standards all over the civilized world, any deviation from this standard will spell further problems for the stuttering freight forwarding subsector in Nigeria, least of which would be litigations.
Thank you all for your time.
(Opara is a registered Freight Forwarder, former member of CRFFN's Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum, IIM Professional Fellow, MIT Chief Data Officer Ambassador and Publisher/Founder, www.publicinformationprojects.org