The commercial nerve centre of Onitsha, Anambra State was agog recently during the inauguration of the 11th President of the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ONICCIMA).
At the event, the new ONICCIMA boss, Uche Apakama, a renowned pharmacist and the managing director of Pax Pharmacy Group, promised to unite all chambers in Anambra State to establish a single state trade-fair.
He said that he was seeing a situation where the three chambers would have one-voice to enlighten and unite traders and manufacturers more.
Apakama said that the state should have a unified trade-fair yearly, which would be tagged “Anambra International Fair,’’ which would not just promote trade and commerce but also enrich the culture of the state
He said that the chamber would vigorously pursue an effective and responsive leadership guided by consistent interventions on issues bothering on the business community in Anambra and the entire South-East.
“I would make it imperative that all industrialists, business operators, service providers, market associations and professional bodies in Onitsha and environs realize and appreciate the need to belong to the chamber so as to speak with a strong and unified voice in matters of common interest,” he said.
The new chamber boss said that he would work for the realization of the “the Four- Point Development Agenda of Governor Willie Obiano-led administration in Anambra State”.
He said that the chamber would relate with relevant ministries, agencies, and departments, as well as development partners to create opportunities and assist in driving Obiano’s dynamic developmental plan.
He said that the chamber would strive to play a leading role in the drafting and fashioning of Anambra economic policies by establishing a formidable team of experts that would advise and complement effort of the government.
“ONICCIMA under my watch is determined to establish cordial working relationship with the Anambra State House of Assembly in her onerous task of giving good legislation to the state, just as it will play an active role in preparation of the state budget.
“ONICCIMA is equally poised to facilitate trade in Onitsha and environs, we shall continue to offer service like letters of reference and processing of travel documents such as visas for members seeking such.
“Our chamber in collaboration with NACCIMA will provide opportunities for members in international trade through trade missions in and outside Nigeria and assist in reaching bilateral trade agreement with interested parties.
“We will aggressively advocate for the development of Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSME) in the state and work towards being the focal point for the development of MSME in terms of access to funds, assistance with feasibility studies and business plans,” he said.
Also speaking, the Director-General and Chief Executive of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr Ike Odumodu, challenged Igbo traders not to compromise quality and desist from importing into the country sub-standard products from China and other countries at cheap prices so as to make enormous profit at the detriment of people’s lives and the local consumers.
Odumodu revealed that when he visited China, he asked them why they dump into Nigeria products they cannot use in their own country, and the Chinese told him that it was some Nigerian businessmen who gave them specifications in order to produce products at cheaper rate for them.
He lamented that Nigeria lost leading multi-national companies like Berec, Michelin, and Dunlop, among many others, due to this massive importation of cheap and substandard products into the country.
He also said that this has made Nigeria to lose opportunities to employ their teeming youths in such businesses and local ones, stressing that no nation can survive and grow to become developed economy by concentrating in imports as Nigeria is currently doing.
He then advised Nigerian businessmen to work hard for their products to meet international standard if they want to gain access to the global market.
In his speech, the Anambra State Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Commerce, Mr Ifeatu Onejeme, said that declining oil revenue has made it imperative for the diversification of the economy, which he said Governor Obiano has started.
He said that with the prevailing situation, members of the chambers who are entrepreneurs should see it as an opportunity to join hands with the state government and the governments in the South-East zone for economic revival and emancipation.
Taking full cognizance of the dwindling fortune of oil revenue in the country and the deflationary effects of economic activities, ONICCIMA called on the governors of the South-East to step up moves toward creating enabling environment for the promotion and growth of export business in the zone.
The chamber in a communiqué issued after the annual lecture series tagged: “The Onitsha Perspective,” pleaded with President Muhamadu Buhari not turn off his eyes on the 2nd Niger Bridge project which was awarded to Julius Berger by his predecessor, asking him to as a matter of urgency complete the project.
The chamber also urged the governments of the South-East states to fast-track the growth and development of non-oil export business in the zone, stressing the need for the state governments to quickly revive, empower and strengthen the committees on export in their various states for more effective actions on export business henceforth.
The communique was signed by the President, Mr Uche Akpakama, the Director General, Mr Dominic Ajibo and other top officials of the chamber.
In a chat with notable transporter and the Chairman of GUO Group, Chief Godwin Okeke, he urged traders to think of diversifying their businesses beyond buying and selling in order to catch up with the global developments in business.
He pointed out that businesses such as farming, fast food, confectioneries and exportation are currently paying off than importation because of inflammation in exchange rate, high level of competition among importers and fakery of imported goods.
He regretted that Onitsha was yet to realize its potential in business because of over dependence on buying, selling and importation.
Okeke, however, noted that the security challenge, which hampered and jeopardized the potential and growth of Onitsha over the years, had been resolved by Governor Obiano.
“The major challenge facing Onitsha is lack of steady power; if not, the commercial city has enough potential to catch up with Lagos and other major commercial cities in the world. We appeal to President Muhamadu Buhari to put more effort on power generation and distribution,’’ he said.
Okeke thanked ONICCIMA for organizing the lecture, adding that the lecture was not just thought provoking but also an eye-opener.
Culled from: Vanguard