From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
At Nyanya Market, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, there is a section of the market popular for the sale of second hand clothing, aka “okrika.”
That part of the market had operated for years without any special notice until recently. That was when two women decided to hold each other by the jugular over who was supposed to buy a pair of second hand brassiere.
One of them had priced the brassiere and left. Later, when she came back to pay for it, she met another woman wanting to pay for the same item. She then grabbed the underwear from the new intended buyer. And a fight ensued.
The first woman claimed she priced the material and told the seller she would be back to pick it. On coming back she saw the other woman about to pay. The second woman said the seller did not tell her that somebody had expressed interest to purchase it.
The seller said the first woman did not make any financial commitment.
So, when the second woman came he was ready to sell it.
The first woman was furious and more offensive. The crowd that gathered intervened to restore sanity. The onlookers pleaded with the second woman to allow the first pay for the item.
A witness said the ugly drama was an indication that “Nigeria’s poverty situation is induced by massive corruption in government.
Otherwise, it is unthinkable for Nigerians to fight over second hand clothes not to talk of disused and discarded underwear.”
Second hand clothes are under ban in Nigeria. President, Consumer Protection Network, Mr Kunle Kola Olubiyo, said the ban was to encourage locally manufactured textiles. He told Daily Sun: “We have been banning things but the poverty situation of Nigerians will determine if they will abide by it.
“When people cannot afford new shoes and clothing, then they will go for the fairly-used ones. The only reason for the ban, apart from the health reason, is to encourage made-in-Nigeria items. But the truth of the matter is that the locally produced goods are not cheap.
“A consumer should have the right to choose while the government makes the prices of locally-produced goods cheap. We should make sure that the industries can grow up and produce at competitive prices.”
A pharmacist, Mrs Peju, said users of such clothing risk some microbial infections such as skin diseases: “These skin diseases include acne, blocked skin follicles that lead to bacteria and dead skin build-up in their pores.
“Others are alopecia areata, losing your hair in small patches; atopic dermatitis (eczema), dry, itchy skin that lead to swelling and cracking. These diseases cannot be avoided in a country like Nigeria where there is endemic poverty because the diseases are poverty-related.”
Mr Chukwuemeka Okeke who deals in second hand clothing. He has been in the business for more than 15 years: “My father made it compulsory that the male children must come to the shop after school. It was from there I picked interest in the business.
“After my OND, I decided to join him in the business from where I decided to establish my own shop. The business is very good. Sometimes they would raid our shops and we still gather money and start again.”
Lucy Ejiaku sources her wares from people who buy in bales: “When they unwrap the bales some of us will select. The clothes are in grades depending on the quality.
“The more quality ones cost higher than the less quality ones. Most boutique operators buy the more quality ones (known as grade one) and sell them as new clothes.
“The business is a good one. My husband and I were doing it together before he died seven years ago. I continue the business. As we speak, two of my children have finished secondary school.
“The downside of this business is the constant raid by officials of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and some local government agents.
“But for some time now they have not raided our shops. We are happy.
This place I am standing (in front of another shop), I am paying N1000 per day, whether I sell or not.
“On the health implications, we wash some of them before we bring them to the market. But, a majority of them are not washed. We get them and bring them to the market for sale.”