To learn a terrain for proper understanding in other to be adequately equiped for the activities therein is a scorecard but when shunning stakeholders that has the capabilities to put you through the rudiment of your mandate then it calls for concern.
Learning the rope of a parastatal such as the Nigeria Shippers’ Council for six months thereby making a once vibrant agency gone to sleep.
It could be recalled that the immediate past Executive Secretary of the Council, Barrister Hassan Bello did an outstanding job on the Council where it became an agency to reckon with as the port economy regulator.
He made the once Shippers’ Council whose voice couldn’t be heard beyond the roof top a formidable, respectable effective and action taking port regulator.
With the appointment of the new Executive Secretary, Emmanuel Jime in June, 2021, the vibrancy of the government agency has Suddenly gone mute all in the name of learning the rope.
Relating with stakeholders seems impossible, perhaps not knowing what to say or where to start from.
In a recent interview with the President- General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Prince Adewale Adeyanju, he slammed Jime over what he described as his strange work attitude, accusing him of shunning engagement with stakeholders.
It generated an uproar in the industry which prompted him to pay a quick visit to the Union leader, making no difference of his weak- kneed to meet with stakeholders which has been telling on the Council capabilities.
The face-off between the freight forwarders and the shipping companies has exposed the extent to which the council has lost respect, character and bite within the short period that Jime took over, and these are the vital attributes that the retired Bello has built into the agency.
Recalled that in October this year, angry freight forwarders issued a two-week ultimatum to the predominantly foreign shipping companies in the country over their unbridled and mindless extortion perpetrated through numerous illegal charges.
Their grievances which they wanted to be addressed without which they will ground port operations were listed which are within the sphere of influence of the Council but it was the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practices in Nigeria(CRFFN) that took the initiative to broker peace between the two feuding parties when it convened a peace meeting.
The port economic regulator, was only coopted into the peace meeting when it became glaringly clear that it has lost the initiative to be proactive.
Notwithstanding the presence of the Council which is their regulator, the arrogant shipping companies snubbed the peace meeting when they refused to attend.
Not intimidated, the CRFFN, which has clearly seized the initiative from the laid-back and lacklustre Shippers’ Council, reconvened the peace meeting last week Friday with the Council tagging along with other agencies like a lame duck.
The shipping companies once again didn’t accord much respect to the conveners of the meeting but reluctantly sent representatives.
With annoying arrogance, the service providers partially conceded to one out of the numerous demands of the aggrieved freight forwarders when they agreed to give them six days period of grace for demurrage instead of the 14 days grace the freight forwarders asked for.
Even, the six days grace period was not clearly defined but dumped on them with the ‘ We don’t give a damn attitude’ and neither the Shippers’ Council nor the CRFFN could do anything as the meeting was deadlocked.
The outcome of this issue has clearly defined the present state of the Shippers’ Council. It has clearly exposed the council under the present leadership as one which lacks the capacity to protect the interests of shippers it was created for.
It has shown a council that has lost the initiative to act and one which is not proactive.t has lost the verve, glamour and the springy movement it was known for under the past leadership.
The freight forwarders themselves have expressed their lack of confidence in the ability of the Council to resolve the lingering issues and stave off the impending strike which the customs brokers have vowed to embark on at the expiration of the new ultimatum, given the deadlocked peace meeting.
Although the shipping companies are not better in character and temperament under the past leadership of the council, Bello was still able to rein them in with his high level of interaction, engagement, consultations and high wire diplomacy that made the Council achieve a considerable level of compliance and cooperation among the service providers.
If the shoe Jime inherited is oversized as acknowledged by him when he took over office as the present Executive Secretary about six months ago then he should wake up, deactivate his sleeping mode, while taking up action to restore back the once vibrancy of the Council.