“It is now a new dawn for Alaba International Market. We are proud of our traders, they are law abiding.”
The perception of some people concerning Alaba International Market, which is no doubt the biggest electronic market in the whole of Africa, is that it is the haven of fake and substandard products. Thus this is one of the biggest challenges facing the new executive chairman of the Electronics Section of the market, Evang. Paulinus Ugochukwu.
According to him, it was basically to clear the bad image of the market that God inspired him to contest for the chairmanship position of the market.
In this interview, he spoke on the challenges of correcting the age-long negative image of the market, the opportunities, as well as the prospects, not only for the traders, but also their customers and the country at large.
What inspired you to contest for the chairmanship position of the Electronics Section of Alaba International Market?
I didn’t really want to contest for the office of the Executive Chairman of Electronics Section. It is a mandate from God that I should contest. Therefore, I simply obeyed God. A lot of things are wrong in the market. The foundation appears to be faulty. So, God mandated me to go and build a strong foundation so that others could later build on it.
What are the challenges so far?
Well, the battle is of the Lord not mine and if God sends you on a mission, he would give you the tools to accomplish it. So, God is really fighting our battle. The decay is enormous, so it is not what can be solved in a day. Gradually, we are doing our best. The first thing is that we have introduced professionalism in the running of the market. It is no longer the era of one-man-show. There is now division of labour in the administration of the market. Every executive is doing his or her work and this is helping a lot in the smooth running of the market.
What is your administration doing on the issue of fake and substandard products, which Alaba is notorious for?
Well, we are encouraging the traders in the market to try to have their own branded products. The truth is that if you fake another person’s product, you are making the product popular, which means you are not helping yourself or your business. A lot of the traders here now have their own brand names and this has helped immensely in reducing faking in the market. So, it is now a new dawn for Alaba International Market. We are proud of our traders, they are law abiding.
Does this mean that you can open your market for the men of Customs and SON to come and inspect?
The truth is that every container that comes into this market had left the port and there are many agencies there with the responsibility to scrutinize the containers. So, I feel that these agencies should always make sure that they are up and doing with their responsibilities. The war on fake products should be fought in the wharf and not in the market. We are educating our traders on the evil of fake and substandard products and most of them are no more doing that. Customs, SON and other agencies should also try to be living up to their responsibilities by stopping these products in the ports, instead of allowing them to go out, only to come to the market to inconvenience traders and customers.
What message do you have for your teeming customers out there?
I want our customers to know that things are no longer the same. Most of the traders now sell their own brand of products and nobody would fake his own product because it would be killing his own business. In Alaba International Market, we sell genuine products at affordable prices. Trial as they say would convince any doubting Thomas. We have a task force in place that goes about to check whoever is importing or is selling fake product and whoever is caught is severely punished. This has helped to clear our market of such products.