Barely one month after the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), through the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), announced commencement of plans to re-concession the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex on Badagry Expressway, current occupiers who are on different long lease agreements with the Federal Government have reacted, warning that they should be excised from the new concession to avoid trouble.
Addressing a press conference at the complex on Wednesday, Chairman of the consortium of investors under the aegis of Trade Fair Stakeholders’ Forum (TFSF) and President of Association of Progressive Traders (APT), Chief Jude Ringo Okeke, made it clear that,
“whereas we are not against the government plan of re-concessioning the complex, our concern is that just as it was done in the recently cancelled concession to Aulic Nigeria Limited, all our members’ allocations which had been running on long lease agreements of over 50 years since 2000 must be excised because our leases have not expired.
“We cannot watch and allow someone who never toiled with us from the scratch when here was overgrown with forests and reptiles till now we have, through our efforts and several bank loans, changed the face of the complex to world-class shopping centre employing well over 100,000 Nigerians.”
Earlier in his remarks, President of Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers’ Association (ASPMDA), Chief Daniel Offorkansi, decried how government allowed itself to be convinced that Lagos Trade Fair Complex is not yet developed.
While challenging the Minister of Trade, Commerce and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, to visit the complex personally to see the quantum of private sector investments so as to clear the wrong impression that the complex is not well developed, he revealed that, “between year 2000 and now, TFSF members have invested trillions of naira and built hundreds of modern shopping plazas.”
“We have developed all the portions given to us which are about 75 per cent of the entire complex and we are ready to even take up the remaining 25 per cent that is still empty for investments.”
Offorkansi explained that, “we are at peace with our landlord, the Trade Fair Management Board, which is not even aware of the concession plan,” describing the investors as law abiding business enterprises as none of the trading groups owes any ground rent or taxes to the Federal Government till date.
The traders took the media round the entire complex to show the volume of investment so far made. Members of the TFST include APT, ASPMDA, Balogun Business Association, Call Park Ventures, C-tempo Group, Mandilas United, Association of Nigerian Tyre Marketers (ANTM), Lagos Int’l Trade Fair Plaza Owners’ Association, Tools & Hardware Dealers’ Association and Mike Express Company Limited.
In an interview, President of ANTM, Alhaji Isah A. Mohammed, called on government to encourage private sector investors who have shown resilience and determination in doing well than coming up with counter development policies that can cause confusion and frustrate ease of doing business.
He made it clear that TFSF members cannot sit and allow their investments taken over by another person or group that never suffered or toiled with them over the years.