David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
President of Stockfish International Market, Onitsha, Anambra State, Mr Celestine Ezewuru has given an insight why the market is distinct across the state and Nigeria in general.
Mr Ezewuru in an interactive session with Sunday Sun said that the market that has over 1,600 shops was built and run according to international model.
And to ensure that there is no deviation from the set standards, he said officials from European countries where the Stockfish items are imported come for inspection from time to time.
The union leader explained that countries like Island and Norway are major producers of the goods, which the dealers bring in for Nigerian markets.
He said before stockfish was imported from those countries into Nigeria, conditions of relevant authorities, including National Food Drug and Control (NAFDAC), Ministry of Agriculture, State Ministry of Commerce and Industries, health authorities must be satisfied.
He explained that these were the requirements before they could get the items from Europe “and that is why when you come to the market, it is one of the neatest in the whole world not just in Anambra State.”
He mentioned huge revenue to the government as one of the traders’ challenges.
To ensure absolute cleanliness and healthy environment, he said the market has two functional boreholes with about 60 running taps. He explained that each block in the market has 10 taps and 16 toilets constructed according to European standards.
Mr Ezewuru noted that leadership of the market employed a good number of people specifically assigned to handle environmental sanitation “because we deal in consumable item.”
He described Onitsha stockfish market as the biggest in the entire South East, saying that apart from Nigeria, their customers come from other West African countries.
He said that the three major stockfish markets in Nigeria are located in Onitsha, Aba and Lagos, which he declared as the markets that controlled the entire Africa as far as stockfish business is concerned.
On the value of the product, he said: “Stockfish is not like any other fish. It contains high nutritional value and contains a particular natural oil (codliver). If you are a good consumer of stockfish, you won’t have any eye problem. And there is no issue of fake in the product like in some other businesses. It’s a natural food and the preservation is done naturally from the overseas countries where it is imported,” he said.
He said when the market was set up, that there was help from Island and Norway who he noted recognized Nigeria as one their major markets and would like to create an enabling environment for Nigerian buyers, adding that those countries had stockfish as their natural endowment just as oil is to Nigeria.
He also argued that the Osina people in Imo State initiated the importation of stockfish into Nigeria before others from Abia and other parts of Nigeria followed suit.
Mr Ezewuru said the market has sections for importers, wholesalers and retailers for administrative convenience which he noted had been of help to ensure smooth administration of the market.
He explained that the dealers were people that originally did their business activities at Ose and Relief markets Onitsha who decided to get a new site that is now Stockfish International Market, a site they developed through self-help effort and bank assistance.
Campaigns: Alaba traders urges Osinbajo to fulfill promise to market
The President of Alaba Amalgamated Association, Fabian Ezeradi Ezeorjika, has appealed to Vice President Yemi Osibanjo to fulfill his campaign promise to the traders in Alaba International Market.
Speaking during an interview with newsmen, Ezeorjika who is also the chairman of Electrical Dealers Association of Nigeria (EDAN) said that when the vice president came to Alaba on campaigns, he promised to give them an independent power plant.
He pointed out that since the promise was made till now, nothing has been done about it.
According to him, Alaba International Market has a population of more than a million traders, adding that power is one of their biggest challenge.
He said with an independent power plant, the problem of epileptic power supply in the international market would become a thing of the past.
He was of the belief that the vice president has not forgotten the promise, saying that if he had, the press conference would remind him that Alaba traders are still waiting for the fulfillment of the promise.
On how the market is coping with the regulatory agencies like Nigeria Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Customs Service and the rest, he said that they are doing everything to maintain their agreement with SON, which is by bringing in only standard products into the country.
Ezeorjika said that their main concern is to bring in standard goods and distribute them accordingly.
“We have very cordial relationship with SON. We had an agreement with them that all the products that we would be importing would be certified with SONCAP and we are working hard to keep to the agreement. I can confidently tell you that most of the products in Alaba are of very high standard.
“On the issue of the promise that the vice president made to us, I want to use this opportunity to remind him that we are still waiting for the fulfillment of the promise. We believe that he is a gentleman and a pastor. So, we are expecting that he should honour his promise”.
On his stewardship as the chairman of electrical dealers association of Nigeria, he said that when he came on board as the chairman, the association did not have a secretariat that is worthy of the biggest electrical market in Africa.
“I felt that EDAN should be like the other forward-looking market around us. We had no money, so we decided to save and build a befitting structure.
“We decided to save money and build a befitting structure that would be called a secretariat. And not just a hall. The secretariat would have two banking halls on the ground and first floor. Then at the second floor, there would be meeting halls for the generality of the traders. We are praying that God would give us money to complete the structure in good time,” he said.
Hoteliers kick against proposed 7.5% VAT
…Urge NASS to shoot it down
Desmond Mgboh, Kano
The Nigeria Hotel Association (NHA) has appealed to the Federal Government to reconsider its plan to review Value Added Tax (VAT) from five per cent to 7.5 per cent, saying the new tax policy would undermine the hospitality industry in Nigeria. The association also extended a similar appeal to the members of the Federal House of Representatives, asking the lawmakers to pass a resolution for the immediate suspension of the policy.
The association, in a statement by its National President, His Highness, Igwe Patrick C Anyanwu, contested that any further review of VAT in the country would negatively impact on the fortunes of their businesses and generally make life difficult for many Nigerians who rely on the sector to survive.
They lamented that already their industry is threatened by the twin factors of erratic power supply and high energy cost, which is about to wipe them out of business.
The association observed that while many other sectors of the Nigerian economy, like the agricultural sector, have continued to enjoy different forms of government’s incentives and interventions, they have been left to their own uncertain fate, despite the fact that they are a leading sector in employment generation and poverty alleviation in the country.
They alerted the Federal Government to the fact that some of the state governments had imposed a five per cent Consumption Tax on hotels and other hospitality related industries in their respective states, saying that the implications of the new VAT rate is that hoteliers and the hospitality industry would now pay 12.5 per cent in all as VAT.
The association, therefore, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the members of the Federal Executive Council, to shelve the planned increment of VAT, but to consider other forms of increasing the national revenue base for the growth of the economy.
While applauding the Federal Government’s various efforts aimed at revamping the economy, the association declared their total commitment to the restoration and revival of the nation’s economy by the present administration.
Nnewi GSM village begins to boom
David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Nnewi industrial community, Anambra State, like some other big cities across Nigeria, now bubbles with a GSM village.
Marketing manager of the villa, Mr Chidi Chukwuemezie said the GSM village, which opened for business last year was fast attracting patronage from Nnewi residents and those from the neighborhoods.
He said the essence of the GSM village was to have an organized area for GSM and other business activities in Nnewi.
He noted that tenants at the plaza were expected to keep to the standards agreed with them and would not deal in any fake product at all times. According to him, any discovery of fake products at the plaza would attract sanction, “the person will find his or her way out of this place because the standard of this place is you have to make it affordable and it must be the best of the market.”
Mr Chukwuemezie said what made the Nnewi GSM village different from roadside shops was that quality of products was always guaranteed, assuring that the standard would never be compromised.
He noted that there had been continual influx of dealers in GSM, other categories of goods, fashion designers, and lawyers coming up to take office accommodations at the village.
He explained that the plaza had provision for 200 shops, 50 offices with spaces for banking hall, car park, telecommunication companies, computer school, among other things, as well as constant electricity and water supply.
On the level of patronage so far, he said: “You know it’s new and the economy is generally bad. People are sometimes slow in taking up new challenges like expanding. However, people are coming to take up shops and the rest of them. The patronage I must tell you is encouraging, “ he said.