Joe Effiong, Uyo
If COVID-19 could make hitherto powerful nations look ordinary and pitiable, if the rich are equally crying because of the yoke the strange pandemic has placed on erstwhile bourgeoisie, then one needs not ponder much about what has happened to the poor and vulnerable whose daily survival depends on what they can manage to eke out each day.
Similarly hit are those who depended on very fragile capital base to run small-scale businesses, but which the COVID-19-induced lockdown in most parts of the nation has since wiped out, leaving them poor and needy.
Realising the plight of such vulnerable people and the need to boost quick recovery of subsistent businesses in Akwa Ibom State, the Ini Ememobong Foundation, in collaboration with its partners, has donated replacement capital to 300 petty traders in the state across different markets in the three senatorial districts.
The donation of the replacement capital, said to be done in honour of the Akwa Ibom First Lady, Dr. Martha Emmanuel, kicked off last Tuesday with Akpan Andem and Itam markets in Uyo, Urua Tour in Ikot Ekpene and Urua Anwa in Oruk Anam, and would get to markets in Oron Federal Constituency and Eket.
Beneficiaries of the Replacement Capital Project were selected carefully by the market unions and screened by the Ini Ememobong Foundation using the benchmark of felt needs of the traders.
Chairman of the Ini Ememobong Foundation, and publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Ini Ememobong, who spoke on behalf other partners, namely, Akan Tommey and Dr. Ikpe Ibanga, said the donation of replacement capital was borne out of the need to help the petty traders who may have depleted their seed capital during the lockdown to have means of getting their businesses back on track.
Ini Ememobong said “We understand the strategic place that traders occupy in the overall economic architecture and the collective wellbeing of any society. And our foundation believes that to help them maintain that strategic position and function optimally, there is need to constantly support them.
“That is why, with the support of our public-spirited partners, we are helping the traders reinvigorate their business through the donation of this replacement capital.”
In his remarks, special assistant to the governor on trade and market matters, Akparawa Idorenyin Raphael, who described the gesture by the Ini Ememobong Foundation and partners as thoughtful and timely, said the donation of the replacement capital would help the petty traders stay in business after the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chairmen of the market association in Akpan Andem, NseAbasi Ndoh and Itam Market, Godwin Ebong, as well as board of trustees chairman, Obong Christopher Usoro, said the donation was a lifeline to the traders and would go a long way in boosting the economic strength of the traders.
One of beneficiaries, a waterleaf seller at Akpan Andem, Mrs. Udeme Ibiom, who was moved to tears on getting the donation, said it appeared the Ini Ememobong Foundation had the capacity to secretly read situations, as the lockdown had dealt a negative blow on her seed capital.
At Itam Market, one of the beneficiaries, a bonga fish seller, Mrs. Grace Ekah, said it was their collective prayers that God would replenish the store of the foundation and its partners, noting that the donation would help boost the economic climate of the state.