The Federal Government has been urged to re-open the borders in order to facilitate trade and give liquidity to the nation’s economy. Chairman of Fancy and Furniture Dealers Association, FFDA, a section of the Alaba International Market, in Ojo Local Government, Lagos, Mr Mbonu Udochukwu Geoffery, gave the admonition in this interview among other issues.
What are your views on the border closure, especially as it affects markets in the country?
Sincerely speaking, the border closure has been impacting on us negatively. It’s a known fact that most countries in West, Central and other parts of Africa, largely depend on Nigeria for supplies, especially Alaba International Market, markets in Trade Fair complex and others. Therefore, when you consider how long the borders have remained closed, you will understand how many billions of Naira we have lost. Today, if you go to the borders, you will see hundreds of truck loads of goods and products that are stranded since the border closure. Like I said, billions of Naira have been lost as a result of this because customers from the neighbouring countries are no more coming. Really, it’s a difficult time for traders due to lack of business. We therefore appeal to the Lagos State government, as well as the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to have mercy on us and reopen the borders in order not to push us out of business.
What would you say was responsible for your election as the chairman of FFDA?
Simply put, I would say that my election as the new chairman of the Fancy and Furniture Dealers Association, FFDA, section of Ojo Alaba International Market, was honestly divine. It was sincerely by God’s making, and a direct answer to the many years I had patiently waited to take up the mantle of leadership in this market. For years, I had waited to take up a leadership position in the market, to enable me usher in quality development and services that will benefit our traders, thus bringing desired improvement to the market environment.
As a graduate of political science, Lagos State University, LASU, and also, as a social activist, I had followed the politics of this association for some years now. This no doubt has given me the ample time to get myself fully prepared for the leadership of the market.
Again, as the leader of the market, my primary mission is to rectify several issues which has most significantly triggered off crises in the market. I see my election as a divine call to sanitise the market, end the era of criminality and ensure that things are done in the right way within the market.
I’d discovered, during my campaign, that people who had no business here, were the ones speaking and insisting on what must be done in the market. But today, with my emergence as the chairman, the era of criminality and impunity has come to an end in the market. Before now, I had served as a member of the Constitution Review Committee of the market, which successfully mid-wifed the constitution that we are using today. Taking a look at the just concluded elections in the market, I will say that the election was absolutely free and fair, and it was the most credible and transparent election since the inception of the market. At least all the traders and observers had already acknowledged the same thing.
What was responsible for the spate of crises in the market in the past, and how do you intend to end it?
Without mincing words, i strongly believe that power tussle was majorly responsible for that, such that the system was terribly bad and faulty that godfatherism fuelled various kangaroo elections which were held in the past. In the past, godfathers reigned supreme in the market, and this no doubt led to the massive subversion of the will of traders, especially during elections. Then, those who had no interest in the well-being of the market, usually closed down the market and hired large number of thugs in order to intimidate traders and impose their anointed candidates during elections. Some time ago, one of our big boys in the market was shot dead due to power tussle. These people had no business in the market, but genuine traders like us with shops and other investments here, were not allowed to be part of the running of the market. But, with my emergence as an elected chairman of the market, it will no longer be winner takes all.