This is certainly not the best of time for Nigerians especially the business class whose ventures are facing all manner of factors that seem to be in a conspiracy to force them out of business. The ever bubbling Nnewi market comprising of many super sections has suddenly become a shadow of itself no thanks to recession.
The issue of recession has hit the traders so hard that many of them have started contemplating going into agriculture in full scale while they continue to run a skeletal business enterprise until the siege of recession is over.
Recession to traders is like a double edged sword which makes it very difficult if not impossible for them to buy at a reasonable price from the manufacturers and at the same time makes it hard for their customers to come out like before to patronize them because their purchasing power has been reduced drastically.
It is obvious that if radical step is not taken by relevant authorities, the recession being currently experienced by many Nigerians would force a lot of traders into depression which is said to be the climax of recession. The reason for this conclusion is not farfetched as many traders at Nnewi market are closing shop and some have even started attending adult education schools for the purpose of taking up paid employment after graduation.
Well, education is very good but it becomes another thing if education is sought by old men as a means of getting ticket for daily meal, what happens to all the servants and other middlemen who make their livelihood by providing service to the traders who are leaving the market in their droves?
A businessman, Chief Oddyson Onyeje, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Oddyson Petroleum Products Ltd, in a forum described recession as a canker worm that is eating the fabrics of traders and trading activities in the country. He said that business activities have been grounded and that many traders are just whiling away time waiting for their death.
“If nothing is done to stem the tide of recession before Christmas, it will definitely force the nation on her knees. We, the Igbos are the worst hit, it appears everything in Nigeria is targeted at frustrating the thriving businesses.
“Any Igboman who has goods in Wharf has the clearance of such goods delayed by port officials just to attract demurrage and in this hard time, where is the money for that kind of frivolity. This automatically increases the price of such goods and interestingly increase in price does not translate into increase in profit, in this dispensation”, he said.
Chief Onyeje however believed that the challenges confronting the traders are multifaceted.
“As we talk now, a dollar is exchanged for over five hundred Naira, it has never been so bad, the price at which goods are sold have become so inconsistent that one may buy an item for five hundred Naira today and by tomorrow it would be bought for over a thousand Naira. That inconsistency alone is killing businesses.
“Many traders are just lazing around in the market because they don’t have any other place to go. It has gone so bad that you now see traders playing ‘ludo’ games or cards at a time that should be for peak business transaction.”
“Traders are better off when the former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan was in power, there was a level of stability in the economy which is very good for business and I think that is what President Muhammadu Buhari should try to imitate.
“But then, if the traders can no longer access goods from abroad due to high exchange rate, one expects that they make do with the goods that produced locally but then many companies especially in Nnewi are equally laying off their workers and closing up because of a whole lot of factors like poor electricity supply, lack of encouragement from the federal government toward local manufacturers among others”, he said.
It is expected that a town like Nnewi which is acclaimed to be the Japan of Africa would be empowered in such a way that the industrial belt of the nation will have uninterrupted power supply to run the factories many of which are operated on power generating sets with its attendant high cost of production.
The traders in Nnewi main market are of the opinion that federal government must do something fast to address the issue of high exchange rate which they said is crippling their business activities, they urged the government to employ the services of people like Dr Ifeanyi Ubah in the management of the nation’s economy as the present economic team seems to be bereft of ideas to safe Nigeria from economic collapse.
The Anambra state governor, Chief Willie Obiano has suddenly become a darling of the traders as they are extremely happy with the official suspension of all forms of levies and taxes in the market as a way cushioning the effect of recession on them.
“Governor Obiano is indeed a Good Samaritan who feels the pain of the traders, his relief package came at the most auspicious moment when the traders are facing a very harrowing experience due to economic downturn and that is sensitivity and responsibility at work.” Chief Oddyson noted.