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Trade Fair, Booster Of Economic Activities



The 5th Edition of Port Harcourt International Trade Fair, remarkable improvement when compared with previous editions. This is the opinion of some market operators and the organizers of the event, the Port Harcourt Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA).

Though, both the organisers and some of the operators share a common idea, that all sales in the Trade -Fair has over 20 per cent discount compared to the open market prices.

Some exhibitors came from far North, West and some neigbouring states, life Bayelsa, Imo, Abia and others.

In the views of the 2nd Deputy President of PHCCIMA, Dr. Renny Cookey, the 5th Port Harcourt International Trade Fair as organised by his organisation, is getting better and better over the years. The highlight of this year’s edition he said, was the opening ceremony which was formerly launched by the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, who was ably represented by his Commissioner for Commerce, Hon (Chief) Ogbonna Nwuke last week.

Dr. Cookey, hinted that the opening ceremony was followed by a meeting with the Minister of Commerce and Former Governor of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa.

According to him, Udenwa spent about two days at the  Trade Fair. He said the minister’s main campaign during his two day stay was “much noise about the promotion of made in Nigeria goods.”

The PHCCIMA boss admitted  that the patronage of made in Nigeria goods are of a low patronage, saying that they are substandard.

Another reason he gave for the low patronage of made in Nigeria goods was orientation. He argued that people still believe that anything that is imported is of a superior quality to the made in Nigeria goods.

He explained that some of the products exhibited in this year’s Trade Fair are or a better standard but people still do not like or buy them simply because it is branded made in Nigeria but when rebranded made in Japan they buy them.

“Some of the products exhibited this year are of standard. But I can tell you that some of the products are better than foreign qualities. And I can tell you that some shoes made in Aba are branded made in Japan just to gain the market and nobody has disputed the quality, and it has to do with orientation,” he said.

He boasted that he is aware of a lady here in Nigeria, who makes and exports shirts to Marks and Spencer in United Kingdom. Because the quality of the production is very high. He pointed that tht because of the high quality of workshops like Marks and Spencer,  anyone maybe willing to buy.

About the issue of enlightenment campaign for made in Nigeria goods, he said that the Ministry of Commerce has to partner PHCCIMA in the promotion of or in the encouragement of the purchase of Home made goods or getting people aware.

The  Ministry of Commerce, or Government, he said, are, not in business, but the chambers which is the representative of the organised private sector, needs be allowed more participation in the campaign for Home made goods.

He stressed that PHCCIMA has access to all market operators and manufacturers, saying that if given the platform to carry out the campaign, it will achieve a high awareness  range more than the government.

He revealed that by Wednesday December 23, 2009, when the Trade Fair will formally end, almost double of the present exhibitors are expected in the market, adding, that it has become almost a tradition in the Trade Fair where some exhibitors believe  customers patronize them more towards the end of the Trade Fair in the preparation for Christmas celebration.

To this end, he said more products ranging from cars, boats, Generators, plough  moulers and other products will be displayed. He hinted that some big market makers like Dangote, Grevok, Eastern Enamel Ware and others will hit the market.

Concerning security, there are plain and uniformed security operatives. The uniformed men,  he said are organized by Medalion, to mount surveillance and monitoring of the market are noting that, the level of security is high, and exhibitors were happy to bring in expensive products to the market without fear.

Live entertainment was also part of this year’s Trade Fair where operators and buyers relax at the end of the day’s business.

When asked whether some of the Casino stands at the Trade Fair were part of his arrangements, he said no, saying that they (PHCCIMA) are not at the place to promote gambling, adding that such activity was not part of the objectives of the Trade Fair.

Some operators like Engr. Calistus Eziudu of Geopan Nig Ltd., who also spoke with The Tide, said he was there in the market to test-run products for customers before they carry it home.

Engineer Eziudu said since his company deals on generating sets, it was out of place to allow customers bear the risk of returning to the market should their purchased products fail at home.

Comparing this year’s edition of Trade Fair to that of last year, he subscribed  to the fact that there was an improvement  and an upward movement in terms of patronage.

The Geopan Nigeria Limited Engineer, who was full of praises for the organizers of the Trade Fair, explained that some people were not yet aware of the importance of Trade Fair due to lack of proper enlightenment campaign programme.  According to him, some people only came to the market due to some jingles done by some private companies, and therefore, called on PHCCIMA to do more in the areas of publicity.

The sales executive of Medic Company Limited, Joy Awuamba who was of a different view, said the market performance was poor compared to that of last year.

Agwuanba said that  the market, which has lasted about nine days as at Friday last week has little or nothing to show for it.

The sales executive officer of  Medic Company Limited, said though her products (security gadgets) are not a selling, blamed the low patronage on the yet-to be paid workers’ salaries and bonuses for the month.

She pointed out that her company reduced sales to almost 40 per cent discount but all to no avail.

Oku Perkins, who shared this view of low patronage with his colleagues, said  that the economic hardship, has affected negatively on that people’s purchasing power.

Perkins called on the organizers of the Trade Fair not to allow it coincide with any government’s function.  He argued that Friday sales was very low due to the CARNIRIV, saying that people also went there to buy as some exhibitors were reportedly seen at the venue.

In the area of s tall allocation, he regretted that the organizers take a cut-t hroat of about N400-N500 per square metre.  He said that the organizers should reduce it so that more exhibitors can come to the market.

The challenges in the Trade Fair he said, was lack of convenience, accommodation for exhibitors.  He lamented that exhibitors in the market go miles in order to have  themselves “cleaned up” and as well get dressed for the next day’s assignment.

Emiola Naturalist Care Limited, who also occupied about 120 square metres at Isaac Boro Park, venue for the 5th edition of Port Harcourt International Trade Fair, lamented that after paying upto N60,000, (electricity inclusive) for the space he booked for, the trade fair was not provided with light as promised by  the organizers of the trade fair.

Speaking to The Tide,  the company’s Principal Consultant, Mr Ayobami Adejare, noted that the company’s participation in the next year’s exhibition will be determined by a

strong  promise by the organizers to improve on the area of power provision.

Mr Adejare, regretted that after paying such a huge sum, the company still spends over N2,000 on daily basis to fuel the generating set in order to power its space at the trade fair.

He also intimated the organizers on the need  to do more on promo and announcement. He said that lack of enough promo and announcement was part of the setback the trade fair suffered this year, saying that people only started coming to the market after some companies went on air.

The product champion of Oceanic Bank Plc, Mr Sylvester, agree that there is low turn out of customers in this year’s edition of trade fair.  He said over the years,  turn out of customers have been encouraging, but could not say why this year was a different ball game.

He also admitted that customers still patronised the bank and others despite the low performance of the market.

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Usman Challenges  NPA, Staff To Prove Alleged N40bn Fraud



The suspended Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has challenged the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and staff to show proofs of her alleged N40 billion fraud.
Usman also debunked claims that while in office, the agency did not remit N40bn, $921.61m and £289.931.82 into the Federal Government accounts as alleged.
In a statement she personally signed, erstwhile MD claimed that reports of unremitted monies into the federation account by the NPA when she was MD were meant to tarnish her image.
According to her, “Media reports alleging that the Auditor-General of the Federation issued some queries regarding monies being owed the NPA by Terminal Operators have come to my attention.
“Ordinarily, the NPA should clear the air about these allegations, and for this reason, I have refused to make any comments since the news broke.
“However, it is becoming more apparent that tarnishing my image is the primary mission of promoters of the story.
“For instance, several people sent me a social media post with the title: ‘NPA Audit indicts Hadiza Bala Usman for not remitting N40b, $921.61m and £289.931.82 to federal government accounts’.
“I make bold to say that this report is untrue and a fallacy from the imagination of anyone spreading the falsehood.
“I also challenge anyone with proofs of this allegation to present them in public”, she stated.
She further explained that even if there are monies unremitted into the federal government’s accounts, these monies will remain in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) where all revenues generated by the Authority domiciles. In addition, the Authority will have explanations for any audit queries that may arise, whenever they do.
“The report claimed that the imaginary allegations of abuse of office, corrupt enrichment and failure to account for billions of naira led to my purported sack”, she emphasized.
On her sack as the MD, NPA, Usman said she has not received any information or letter of sack from any quarters until this moment.
“I state without any equivocation that I have not received any information about my purported sack from any quarters until this moment.
“I have also not been indicted for any offence as alleged in these increasing lies.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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E-Naira Acceptance Faces Poor Mobile Networks, Other Threats



Poor mobile networks as well as limited spread of Internet-enabled devices, among others, are currently threatening the acceptance of eNaira across the country, according to a report by Omaplex Law.
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in October 2021 introduced its digital currency, called the eNaira, saying it hoped to increase financial inclusion and make cross-border payments easier for enterprises.
The CBN disclosed 400,000 accounts were created and over 12,500 transactions were made within a month of launching eNaira.
The report, titled “Omaplex 365: Nigeria 2022 socio-economic and technological outlook”, stated that the lack of quality mobile networks and the limited spread of Internet-enabled devices have been a significant bottleneck in the acceptance of the eNaira.
“This is so because in most rural regions of Nigeria, network penetration is still heavily dependent on 2G and 3G networks, which spells difficulty for eNaira transactions hinged on the internet.
“Again, owing to the indigent status of a significant fraction of the Nigerian populace, owning Internet-enabled devices may be put on hold in favour of more immediate necessities.
“Accordingly, if the primary stated purpose of the creation and launch of eNaira is to promote financial inclusion, the highlighted issues may pose a threat to achieving that goal”, it stated.
The firm, however, commended the CBN’s efforts to overcome some of the existing obstacles.
“In this circumstance, it is highly commendable that the CBN in a bid to overcome these obstacles has elected to deploy the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data approach in 2022 to reach the most remote parts of the country without relying on network penetration or possessing an internet-enabled device before users can access the numerous benefits that the eNaira provides,” it said.

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E-Call Up System:Truckers Raise Alarm Over Extortion



Experts in the haulage and logistics supply chain of the maritime sub-sector have raised alarm over alleged hike of the e-call up system introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and managed by Truck Transit Park (TTP) Limited.
The experts lamented that the official N10,000 charges collectible  by TTP Limited allegedly goes for N25,000 per truck, adding that multiple taxation and extortions from the various associations may trigger further  hike in charges of container laden trucks  if not properly addressed.
According to them, gladiators in the political arena are allegedly engaging thugs along the corridors of ports to extort truckers ahead of the 2023 elections .
Chief Executive Officer, Nedu Logistics Solutions Limited, Mr. Kelvin Okechukwu, in a chat with our correspondent in Lagos lamented that despite paying huge amount on call up system to evacuate containers , multiple extortions from the thugs under the guise of representing various associations in haulage activities create more problems for genuine operators in the clearance of cargo from the ports.
He alleged that the monies collected for the call up in recent time have been extremely high for the truckers to pay, calling on the relevant authorities to review the charges because the current N25,000  rate will not go down well for genuine operators.
Okechukwu reiterated that the call up charges now attract about N25,000 officially and with a break down of the new collection, he alleged that “They collect the call up in three phases and each phase attract N10,750 while we the truckers are to pay twice with additional N5,000”.
He further alleged that there are about twelve points manned by security agencies and the  touts thus demand and extort N1000 from truckers at every point along the port corridors.
Along the Apapa/Oshodi corridor, he said, every 500 meters attract a N1000 levy or ticket payable to the various touts claiming to be members of haulage associations and security agencies.
Calling on the government to find lasting solutions to end touting along the port corridors, he said, “I’m telling you authoritatively that those touts on the roads are working for politicians.
“We have done so much to push them out but at the end of the day, they are still there on the road because they have the political backing above.
“We go to police, they will say there is nothing they can do, even when we go to the navy, they will even give them protection.
He lamented that the Police, LASTMA and NPA personnel are not left out of frustrating the genuine haulage operators against the backdrop of the objective of the call up system.
While expressing frustration over the bottlenecks and extortions on cargo movement  from the ports in Lagos, the logistics service provider stated that the call up system was aimed to reduce the challenges faced by truckers and not to create setbacks for operators .
He urged the Federal Government to prioritize the port corridors construction to enable smooth vehicular movement of haulage trucks, noting that the call up has potential to enhance  movement of cargoes from the seaports
On his part, a chieftain of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Arthur Igwilo,  lamented that the multiple extortion has led to the hike in the cost of manufactured goods in Nigerian markets.
Igwilo decried the humiliation and molestation of truck drivers and their assistants in  the hands of thugs, even as he appealed  to the government to put motion in place to eliminate the hiccups affecting trade facilitation.
Attempts to contact officials of TTP Limited proved abortive as messages sent was not replied as at the time of filing this report.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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