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It will be so difficult to forget the celebration of an ICON who had distinguished himself in his field of service.


Times News Reporter gathered that it was the first time a Freight Forwarding association like the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), one of the biggest in the Maritime Industry with well above 5,000 members would organise such an event for any serving or retired head of government agency in the Industry.


NAGAFF signposted by a fearless and successful business mogul/Freight Forwarder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam is known for its critics, though constructive, not minding whose ox is gored. They say it the way they see it.


On 12th of July, NAGAFF assembled the “timber and caliber” in the Maritime Industry including heads of government Agencies like the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC), Nigeria Customs, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), and several other sister Freight Forwarding Associations such as the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Association of Registered Freight Forwarders in Nigeria(AREFFN), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Amalgamation of Association of Truck Owners(AMATO) and others, NUJ, Lagos State Council, other Maritime journalists, Guild of Editors to celebrate the immediate past Executive Secretary NSC, Barrister Hassan Bello.


However, agencies like the Nigeria Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Food & Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and others were absent.


Time News Reporter observed that the venue for the event ( Rockview Hotels) Apapa which happened to be the biggest, was filled to its brim and had overflow at the Gallery, which according to the celebrant, Barrister Hassan Bello, “this is my first time of seeing an event organised in this auditorium that people attended in this magnitude,”(paraphrased).


Bello’s eight years in office recorded “earth shaking” achievements such as…captured by the National President of NAGAFF, Chief (Dr.) Increase Uche.


In his welcome address, at the occasion contained the abrogation of illegal charges by Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators, Re-enforcement of the Complaint unit of the Council, paying unscheduled visits to operators for on the spot assessment of the goings there, Deployment of staff to Shipping Companies and Terminals for monitoring of operations, collaboration with Shippers’ bodies in other countries.


Others are facilitation of Inland Dry Ports, instrumental to the establishment of Inland Container Deports (ICD) in six states of the federation, facilitated the development of Truck Transit Parks  (TTPs), Port Service Support Portal (PSSP), complaints management platform, harmonised Industry Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).


Also, creation of Border Information Centres (BIC), Development of Indicative Haulage Rates from Lagos and Eastern Ports to Inland Destinations, Handling and Resolution of Complaints, Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Reduction of Customs Road blocks; Traffic management; Benchmarking of freight Rates.


The NAGAFF National President mentioned with particular interest the efforts of the Council under the administration of Bello, during the COVID-19 era in sensitising port users, in compliance with the Pandemic’s protocol while Personal Protective materials were donated to them in addition to providing vehicles that conveyed freight Forwarders and other port users to and from the ports during lockdown.


Time News Reporter’s opinion is that among the list of achievements recorded by this unassuming, astute leader per excellence are his human relations with Organisations, sister agencies’ Heads, journalists, individuals, and others coupled with his open door policy. It is unequalled. It is only in NSC, under his watch that mails to the ES/CEO were not lost on transit unlike other agencies especially, NIMASA.


The occasion witnessed, of course many goodwill messages from agencies, freight forwarding organisations, CRFFN, Shippers Association, NUJ, Media heads and well wishers, all extolling the good leadership style and good virtues of Barr. Hassan Bello, the immediate past Executive Secretary of NSC which indeed had great positive impact in the development of the Maritime Industry.


To Aniebonam, the Chief host, “Hassan Bello is a humble man. The reason why we are celebrating him is because he is for the people and worked for the people.


“We are celebrating Bello for who he is. While people had talked about his humility but I picked him up simply for humility, primarily.


“So, NAGAFF is not in any form a pretender, we are known for being truthful, we are at liberty to make a choice. What I want to advise is that we must take advantage of situations. We have set out to celebrate Barr. Hassan Bello, we are not doing that because of anything or a reward, after all, if he did not help us while he was in Shippers’ Council, is it when he is out of Shippers’ Council? Everything said about Hassan here, nobody can add, nobody can remove.


“I think Hassan must now understand what life is all about, that the real happiness in life is about your relationship with the people. What I want to advise all of us seated here is we must take advantage of situations, let us stop things that we are doing that are not adding value.


“Why should we not celebrate Hassan Bello? Do you know this man (Hassan Bello) was the legal officer of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council when I was the first President and Founder of NAGAFF.


“You are talking about celebrating this man, it is you people, the Shippers’ Council staff that should celebrate this man not us. I want to tell you what many of us do not know. The right people to celebrate this man are the Shippers’ Council staffers because if not this man, I do not know whether Shippers’ Council will be in existence now.


“And we have reasons to celebrate this man because he is for the people, he worked for the people. So, I can simply say that other than innuendos, we still want this man to come back. As how?


“As we are speaking today, government is right inside here even though all of us are government but the real government is inside here. I am now saying that we have all here agreed that Hassan Bello has shown leadership and that Mr. President, we want him to know that we need him back.


“Now, Hassan, what we are saying is that Amaechi Rotimi has provided leadership and that gave rise to your performance. We also know that Amaechi cannot be there for life, between now and election, after 2023, definitely, Amaechi will not be there after that.


“Hassan merited the consideration for Minister of Transport. Hassan Bello, what we are saying is that you merited consideration for Minister of Transportation, it will give you a wide scope of operation because there are lots of things you wanted to do but you couldn’t do that because you had limited power. As a minister, I am sure you will be more strategically positioned and get the attention of Mr. President to do the needful.”


The call for his appointment as Minister for Transport happens to be the mind of the audience at the occasion.


This is a very big lesson for all serving officials to see their positions as a call to serve the people and bring about positive change in their environment and industry not to “Lords” or enrich their pockets for their 10th generation. Neither is it a call for countless unfruitful oversea trips/tours.



Photo caption:

Hassan Bello, former ES/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council

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